May 18, 2022 - News

8 N.C. races we couldn't stop watching

Dozens of campaign signs outside a Raleigh polling place

Dozens of campaign signs outside a downtown Raleigh polling site. Photo: Lucille Sherman/Axios

Dozens of races across North Carolina were worth keeping an eye on Tuesday night, with control of Congress and the state legislature at stake.

Here are a few we watched.

Wake County Sheriff

Willie Rowe squeaked out a win over incumbent Gerald Baker in the Democratic primary, but it could still go to a runoff.

  • Why it matters: The election was a report card, of sorts, of Baker’s management of a 900-employee department that has an operating budget of more than $100 million.
    • Voters didn’t give a ringing endorsement.
Wake District Attorney

Powerful incumbent Lorrin Freeman held off a considerable challenge from Damon Chetson in the Democratic primary.

  • Why it matters: Freeman survived despite criticism from progressive groups that want her to be more aggressive with criminal justice reform, as The Assembly reported.
Fourth Congressional District

State Sen. Valerie Foushee emerged from an eight-candidate Democratic field that included Bernie Sanders-backed progressive Nida Allam and former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken.

13th congressional district

Wiley Nickel, a Democratic state senator and former Obama White House staffer, defeated Sam Searcy by 29 points.

  • Why it matters: It sets up what’s sure to be a fiery general election against Hines in a district that’s nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
State House District 66

This Democratic primary was a nail-biter, with state Sen. Sarah Crawford, who opted not to run for House this time instead, prevailing by only 133 votes.

State Senate District 13

Raleigh city council member Patrick Buffkin lost to political newcomer and civil rights attorney Lisa Grafstein by 33 points in this north and northwest Raleigh district's Democratic primary.

First Congressional District (northeastern N.C.)

This historically significant district has been represented by civil rights icon G.K. Butterfield since 2004. State Sen. Don Davis, a U.S. Air Force veteran who grew up cropping tobacco, rode an endorsement from Butterfield to a convincing victory over state Sen. Erica Smith in the Democratic primary.

State Senate District 19 (Fayetteville)

Gov. Roy Cooper’s campaign against incumbent Democrat state Sen. Kirk deViere, who he believes repeatedly undermined him, succeeded.

  • Val Applewhite’s win here reiterates that Democrats in the state need the governor’s support — and fundraising network — to win.
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