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Holding wins landslide victory in 2nd District

House 2016 North Carolina

U.S. Rep. George Holding makes remarks to supporters as his wife Lucy, left, applauds his victory at an event following the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday in Raleigh.

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By Lindell John Kay
Staff writer

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nash County Republicans joined in the landslide victory of U.S. Rep. George Holding in Tuesday’s 2nd Congressional District primary.

Holding trounced U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers with 53.38 percent of the vote across the district and 65 percent in Nash County.

Raleigh lawyer John McNeil enjoyed his own lopsided victory in a five-candidate race in the 2nd District Democratic primary, capturing 46.13 percent of the vote district wide and 34.11 percent in Nash County.

Holding’s 13th District was changed by a court-ordered redrawing of the lines earlier this year so he chose to run against Ellmers in an attempt to continue to represent the Wake County area in the 2nd District, which now includes most of Nash County.

The final weeks of the race became a feud on the airwaves over conservative credentials, with heavy spending by the two candidates and more than $1 million from outside groups attacking Ellmers.

Across the 2nd District, which includes Wake County and portions of the surrounding area, Holding received 16,999 votes to Ellmers’ 7,527 votes, or 23.64 percent. In a close third, tea party candidate Greg Brannon received 7,320 votes, or 22.99 percent, all according to unofficial election results, which will be finalized during next week’s canvass.

In Nash County, Holding received 2,191 votes, or 65 percent; Ellmers received 730 votes, or 22.66 percent; and Brannon received 450 votes, or 13.35 percent.

Holding’s primary victory shows conservative voters were paying attention to his track record, Holding told reporters Tuesday night. He said he is happy voters rewarded his efforts to do the right thing in Washington.

“This primary gave me the opportunity to learn that people do notice,” he told reporters.

Holding is expected to have a strong chance of winning the Republican-leaning district in November, when he’ll face McNeil.

Holding, a former federal prosecutor, was first elected in 2012.

Ellmers, first elected in 2010, lamented the spending by outside groups in a statement issued Tuesday night.

“I have sought to be an effective legislator, providing common sense conservative solutions to everyday problems. Unfortunately, today the special interest groups, super PACs and their deep pockets won,” she said.

In the Democratic primary across the district, McNeil received 7,564 votes or 46.13 percent; Watson received 3,847 votes or 23.46 percent; Hight received 1,856 votes or 11.32 percent; Sanyal received 1,749 votes or 10.67 percent; and Brewington received 1,380 votes or 8.42 percent.

In Nash County, McNeil received 676 votes, or 34.11 percent; Watson received 469 votes or 23.66 percent; Brewington received 424 votes, or 21.39 percent; Hight received 207 or 10.44 percent; and Ssanyal received 206 votes or 10.39 percent.

Nash County voter turnout dipped to 8.45 percent with 5,473 out of a registered 64,806 voters casting a ballot, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Polls were slow, but steady Tuesday, said Nash County Elections Director John Kearney.

Once the primary votes have been finalized, election workers will begin gearing up for November’s General Election, Kearney said.

With more than 99 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, unofficial results from the N.C. State Board of Elections showed that more 500,000 people had cast ballots, or less than 8 percent of the nearly 6.6 million registered voters. More absentee and provisional ballots will be added to the totals over the next several days.

Although this is a presidential election year, the initial turnout rate is lower than midterm primary elections in recent history.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

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