Clinton Wins Big, Trump Gets by Cruz, and Other NC Primary Results
Let’s start at the top of the ticket. The first called race of the evening was for Hillary Clinton. There were plenty of cheers and "Hillary!" chants at Jackalope Jacks near uptown, where about 50 Hillary Clinton supporters gathered to watch the results come in.
Pamela Morton of Charlotte wasn’t sure what to expect. She was relieved Clinton did so well.
"As much as I appreciate him, I don’t think Bernie Sanders has a chance in hell of beating Donald Trump, so I’m very pleased."
Over at Hattie's on The Plaza, Aisha Dew agreed in part. "What we don’t want is a President Trump." But Dew was disappointed. She is the North Carolina director of the Sanders Campaign. And Dew was conciliatory. "After the nominee is selected we’ll get together and work together to support that person so they become the next president of the United States."
Clinton defeated Sanders in North Carolina by 14 points. That’s less than polls had predicted. And exit polls show late deciders were breaking Sanders' way. But exit polls show Clinton won 81 percent of the African-American vote here, easily taking her to victory.
As for the Republicans, Donald Trump won North Carolina, but it was a very close race.
He beat Ted Cruz by less than four points. Exit polls in that race identified 'Shares my values' as the single biggest reason North Carolinians voted for a candidate. For Scott Gentry of Salisbury, that meant a vote for Senator Ted Cruz. "I like his stance on religion. I like his stance on the Constitution especially." Gentry added, "I like his stance on most everything he stands for."
Where Trump dominated was with those who saw the billionaire as a man who 'Tells it like it is' and who can 'Bring change.' Mary Beth Mosko is a Trump supporter from Catawba County. "I’m so tired of the political establishment," she said, "I don’t think it was meant to be a career, I think it was meant to be public service. And I’m excited and energized to see someone new who comes from a business background, instead of a political background, become involved."
When it came to nominees for governor, statewide there were no surprises. Democrat Roy Cooper easily won his party’s nod, and will face Governor Pat McCory come November. Statewide, McCrory won the Republican nomination by about 70 points. But along a certain corridor of interstate where toll lanes are now being built, it was a different story.
I-77 Toll Anger And Votes
Voter anger over NCDOT’s plans for toll lanes on I-77 from Charlotte to Mooresville brought a primary challenge for McCrory. Former state representative Robert Brawley of Mooresville jumped into the race late - only in December. And he gave McCrory a battle near Lake Norman, where anti-toll sentiment runs high.
Brawley beat the governor in six precincts in south Iredell County and four in north Mecklenburg County. While his support was only 10.5 percent statewide, he won nearly 40 percent of the vote in Iredell and nearly 16 percent in Mecklenburg.
Kurt Naas of the anti-toll group Widen I-77 and Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips both felt a sense of accomplishment. Naas said the results "means we sent a message to the governor about his continued support for the unpopular toll project." Phillips added,"I think he's going to have to take a look because his governor's race could be in jeopardy."
Phillips thinks many Brawley voters could vote against McCrory and for Democratic nominee Roy Cooper in the November election. Or they may not vote at all. Either way, that only helps Cooper.
The Lake Norman area is a Republican stronghold and traditionally a pot of gold for the party. That could be different this year if anti-toll voters in the area decide to stick it to McCrory.
Brawley himself won’t be joining them. When the results became clear, he sent a text to congratulate the governor and offered his support. "I have been a Republican all my life," Brawley said, "and I don't plan on changing now."
But Brawley thinks the DOT’s plans for tolls elsewhere around the state will bring more trouble the governor. "I think if they don’t pay attention to what happened in the Lake Norman area, and they try to toll all of the state of North Carolina, they’re going to find a revolt in North Carolina."
Meanwhile, anti-toll voters also gave incumbent state Representative Charles Jeter a scare in the 92nd District. Unofficial results from early and Election day voting had him ahead of I-77 toll lane opponent Tom Davis by just 28 votes – close enough for a recount.
[Update: Davis said Wednesday if Jeter holds his lead after absentee and provisional ballots are counted, he'll ask for a recount.]
FEW SURPRISES FARTHER DOWN THE BALLOT
U.S. Senator Richard Burr easily won the Republican primary for that seat. Defeating Greg Brannon by more than 350,000 votes. Burr did not give a speech or release a statement on his win.
He will face Democrat Deborah Ross, who told her supporters late Tuesday that "We need a senator who works for all the people, and the wealthy and well-connected have to play by the same rules as everyone else."
Ross is the former head of the North Carolina Chapter of the ACLU. And she served as a State Representative for 10 years before leaving in 2013.
Democrat Josh Stein and Republican Buck Newton, both North Carolina State Senators will face off for Attorney General in the General Election
And Democrat Dan Blue III will face Republican Dale Folwell for state Treasurer.
Sitting at the bottom of the ballot was the $2 billion bond referendum, which would largely be used to fund new buildings on the campuses of UNC schools. It passed by a wide margin.
One of the big wildcards Tuesday night ended up not being as much of a problem as feared. It was the first election with North Carolina’s Voter ID law in effect. A hotline set up by Democracy North Carolina was reportedly overwhelmed with calls seeking help in navigating the new rules. But overall, no major issues were reported. You can find full North Carolina election results here.