Turnout slight for 2nd primary


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

More than 600 voters cast one-stop ballots Wednesday on the first day of early voting in the second Republican primary for the vacant 3rd Congressional District seat.

The July 9 primary will decide whether state Rep. Greg Murphy, a doctor from Greenville, or Dr. Joan Perry, a doctor from Kinston, is the GOP nominee for this fall’s special election to replace the late Walter Jones, the longtime congressman who died in February.

No Democratic contest is being held because former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas decisively won the party’s primary in April.

Data from the State Board of Elections show 631 votes were cast in the second primary as Wednesday afternoon, with a few of the 3rd District’s 17 counties yet to report any numbers.

As of midday on Wednesday, 105 voters had cast ballots in five area counties. Chowan led the way with 36. Pasquotank was second with 34. Camden, meanwhile, saw 16 voters cast early ballots; Perquimans saw 12; and Currituck saw seven.

Voting in the second primary is open to Republicans, or unaffiliated voters who didn’t vote in another party’s primary in April. That’s due to North Carolina’s semi-closed primary system.

Murphy was the top-place finisher in the April first primary, but claimed too small a share of the vote to avoid a runoff. Second place went to Perry, and a majority of the vote was scattered among 15 other candidates.

Murphy is likely counting on running up votes in his home county, Pitt, which generated a lot of votes for him in April. Pitt generated so many votes for Murphy that it far offset Perry carrying slightly more counties: five to Murphy’s four.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Pitt had generated 221 votes, or about a third of the total vote. That’s compared to fewer than 100 ballots cast so far in Lenoir, Perry’s home county.

With eight counties going to other candidates in the last primary, Murphy and Perry have continued crisscrossing the district to try to consolidate support.

Each is touting their conservative credentials to likely Republican voters, as well as their support for Republican President Donald Trump.

Notably, Murphy also led in fundraising during April, raising more than $300,000. An updated campaign finance report is due to the Federal Elections Commission next week.

Early voting for the second GOP primary continues through Friday, July 5. In northeastern North Carolina, voting is offered during normal business hours at county boards of elections. July 4 is the exception, when election offices will be closed for the holiday.