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North Carolina US House primaries: 2 GOP races headed for May runoff

2024 Primary Election Day in North Carolina
Matt Ramey
A voter casts his ballot at The Church at Clayton Crossings during the primary election on March 5, 2024.

Two Republican candidates for Congress in North Carolina have indicated that they intend to call for runoffs in their respective races following close finishes on Super Tuesday.

Brad Knott finished second to Kelly Daughtry in the GOP primary for the 13th Congressional District, while Mark Walker also finished second in his race in the 6th District to Addison McDowell. Since neither first-place finisher won more than 30% of the vote, the runner-up can call for a second primary.

Taking to social media, both Knott and Walker stated that they intend to do so. The two-person runoffs will take place on May 14.

The newly-drawn 13th District now includes parts of eight counties: Johnston, Wake, Harnett, Franklin, Lee, Granville, Person and Caswell. The district is currently represented in Congress by Democrat Wiley Nickel, but he decided not to seek reelection after the district was redrawn to heavily favor a Republican candidate. Some 14 candidates sought the GOP nomination. Fred Von Canon finished third behind Daughtry and Knott with 17% of the vote.

A former federal prosecutor, Knott’s campaign had backing from a super PAC spending big on TV ads. Daughtry, a Smithfield attorney – and the daughter of longtime Rep. Leo Daughtry, a former House Majority Leader who served in Congress from 1993 to 2017 – spent nearly $3 million of her own money running for the same seat in 2022.

Frank Pierce is the Democratic nominee for the 13th District race as the lone candidate in the field.

Like fellow Democrat Nickel, Rep. Kathy Manning thought it was futile to seek reelection in the redrawn 6th District that also now heavily leans Republican. The district stretches across the Triad from Greensboro to Concord. The race was closer here than in the 13th District with McDowell getting 26% of the vote, Walker with 24%, and Christian Castelli with 21%. Former N.C. State football player Bo Hines — who lost to Nickel in the 13th District in 2022 — placed fourth in this primary race.

Former President Donald Trump publicly endorsed McDowell, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield lobbyist, in the race. Walker previously represented the 6th District from 2015 to 2021. He placed third in the 2022 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

No Democrat has filed to run in the 13th District.

Elsewhere in congressional races in the Tar Heel State, the Associated Press officially called the Republican primary in the 8th District for Mark Harris on Wednesday afternoon. It's a political comeback of sorts for the longtime pastor after his 2018 campaign for the 9th District seat was the subject of a ballot fraud scandal.

Harris won the 8th District primary with 30% of the vote according to a New York Times projection, avoiding a runoff with second-place finisher Allan Baucom, a political newcomer at the state level and Union County farmer. In November, Harris will face Democrat Justin Dues in another district that is drawn to heavily lean Republican.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.