In just over 2 weeks the voters of North Carolina journey to the polls and pick their respective nominees for the general election. A lot has happened but in many races the status quo seems destined to prevail. For your digestion I give you the current goings on in North Carolina's primary. (feel free to pass this on to family & friends)
Governor -- For the GOP it seems that Pat McCrory is indeed the annointed candidate. Despite having 4 other challengers McCrory is gliding along to an overwhelming victory that sets him up strongly for the fall. McCrory has amassed a war chest of over $2 million which he had hardly spent any of. This will be the most quiet GOP gubernatorial primary since 1992.
The Democrat's primary was upended when Bev Perdue opted against running for reelection. The majority of potential candidates decided against a run viewing the odds against taking on a united GOP when the NC Democratic Party is in such disarray. While the establishment quickly locked in for Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, it seems that Bob Etheridge has the momentum going into the final two weeks after a poised debate performance. Whether it will be enough to avoid a costly July runoff remains to be seen given that Bill Faisson has been spending freely but going nowhere. Etheridge's nomination will ensure a feisty governor's contest in the fall, but one where McCrory still has the advantage.
Lt. Governor -- On the Republican side there are 5 candidates but only 3 that are viable. Dan Forest is the son of Congresswoman Sue Myrick and has been going around the State appealing to Tea Party conservatives for their support. Unfortunately he is being outspent on TV by current NC House Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell. Both are conservative in the traditional GOP sense, with Folwell actually having a proven political record. The 3rd candidate is current Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley. Gurley started early, but lacks the charisma of Forest and the connections of Folwell. Given it's down ballot nature this race is highly fluid and will be unpredictable going into election day.
On the Democrat side we have the unique situation of both candidates being black. Former director of State personnel Linda Coleman and Fayetteville State Senator Eric Mansfield have jockeyed for name recognition and sought to be identified as the most liberal/progressive in the field. Consider Coleman to have the advantage as she has the backing of the SEIU and other unions from around the country who seek to gain a firm toehold in North Carolina.
Congress NC 7 -- This southeastern district that stretches from Johnston County to Southport has seen a barnburner GOP primary between Tea Party favorite Ilario Pantano and establishment favorite David Rouser. This has been a contest between Pantano's biography and grassroots support against Rouser's money. Polls had shown Pantano in the lead, but Rouser has advertised extensively to narrow the gap. This will be a dragout fight to the finish for the chance to face embattled Rep. Mike McIntyre.
Congress NC 8 -- Larry Kissell is probably the most endangered Democratic congressman thanks to the handy gerrymandering the GOP legislature did to his district. It is also why there are multiple GOP challengers jockeying for the right to take on Kissell in November. Most of the GOP establishment has rallied to Richard Hudson, former district director for State GOP Chairman Robin Hayes. Tea Party firebrand Vernon Robinson is the main challenger to Hudson in the primary and is making lots of noise as he is known to do in every race he has run. Hudson can be considered the favorite in this race.
Congress NC 9 -- The retirement of Sue Myrick brought out a bevy of GOP aspirants in this Charlotte-based district. Myrick decided early to give her blessing to current Mecklenburg Commissioner and former sheriff Jim Pendergraph. Pendergraph is known for being the first sheriff east of the Mississippi to bring the 287g program targeting illegal aliens to his county. Other notable GOP figures have endorsed Robert Pittenger, a former State senator and real estate developer. The sheer number of candidates guarantees a runoff in July, most likely between Pendergraph and Pittenger.
Congress NC 11 -- The retirement of Heath Shuler has made this mountain district race hotter than a NYC Rolex. 7 Republicans are in the primary, with Jesse Helms conservative Mark Meadows battling Tea Party candidate Vance Patterson and Transylvania DA Jeff Hunt for the lead in the race. While Meadows has the advantage in terms of grassroots it will be a battle to the finish on May 8 to see if he can win the nomination outright without a runoff.
NC LS Legislative Analyst