© 2024 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Recounts possible for NC Senate leader's son, House Democrat

Election workers prepare and package absentee ballot requests at the Wake County Board of Elections office in Raleigh on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.
Jonathon Gruenke
Election workers prepare and package absentee ballot requests at the Wake County Board of Elections office in Raleigh on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

At least one of last week's primaries for the state legislature could be headed to a recount, and several county-level primaries are also close enough for recounts.

As the final ballots are being counted this week, social studies teacher Rodney Pierce has a 42-vote lead over incumbent Rep. Michael Wray, D-Northampton. Pierce challenged the Roanoke Rapids-area lawmaker over concerns that Wray votes with Republicans more than any other House Democrat.

The latest vote tally is well within the margin for a recount. Wray hasn't yet said if he'll call for one; he did not respond to an inquiry from WUNC on Monday.

The left-leaning League of Conservation Voters is calling on Wray to concede. It issued a news release saying voters chose "Pierce to finally provide the representation they deserve in Raleigh."

Two other close House races could end up close to or within recount territory. In Davidson County, Rep. Sam Watford leads former Sen. Eddie Gallimore by 93 votes in the Republican primary for Watford's House seat. And in High Point, incumbent Rep. Cecil Brockman leads his challenger in the Democratic primary by 83 votes.

Berger's son behind in Rockingham

Incumbents on the Rockingham County Commission faced strong challenges this year from opponents of a proposed casino near Stokesdale.

County Commissioner Kevin Berger was one of the leaders who voted to rezone property for the project. His father is Senate leader Phil Berger, who pushed for casino legislation at the state level.

Casino opponent Craig Travis finished seven votes ahead of Kevin Berger in the Republican primary, which means Berger can call for a recount. An incumbent commissioner, Don Powell, lost to a casino opponent as well. The group "NC Conservatives Fund," funded by the national organization GOPAC — where Phil Berger serves on an advisory board — spent about $20,000 on mailers opposing Travis, a former county commissioner.

"Like many people, we are tired of the established good ol' boy network that only do things to benefit themselves," Travis wrote in a Facebook post during the campaign.

Recounts are also possible in close county commission primaries in Cabarrus, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Gaston, Mitchell, Person and Robeson counties. And there are close school board primaries in potential recount territory in Moore, Northampton and Watauga counties.

A spokesman for the State Board of Elections said the agency hasn't received formal recount requests yet in any of the close races, noting that the vote tallies "could change as the relevant counties count provisional ballots, UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) ballots, and absentee ballots that arrived on Election Day."

Other close primaries won't be decided until a May 14 runoff election. Those include the GOP contests for lieutenant governor, state auditor and two congressional races in the Triangle and Triad.

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.