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Dalton, McCrory to Face Off in N.C. Gov Race, Marriage Amendment Passes
By Bryan Warner
Published: May 9, 2012
RALEIGH - Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton emerged as the Democratic nominee for governor Tuesday night, beating out ex-congressman Bob Etheridge for the chance to take on former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who decisively won the Republican nomination.
Meanwhile, North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.
2012 N.C. Primary Election Results
U.S. President (Rep)
Mitt Romney (66%)
Ron Paul (11%)
Rick Santorum (10%)
Newt Gingrich (8%)
no preference (5%)
N.C. Governor (Dem)
Walter Dalton (46%)
Bob Etheridge (38%)
Bill Faison (6%)
Gardenia Henley (5%)
Gary Dunn (3%)
Bruce Blackmon (2%)
N.C. Governor (Rep)
Pat McCrory (83%)
Paul Wright (5%)
Scott Jones (3%)
Jim Mahan (3%)
Jim Harney (3%)
Charles Moss (2%)
Source: N.C. State Board of Elections
After more than 500,000 voters cast a ballot during the state’s early voting period – a record high since early voting was instituted in 2000 – another 2.6 million went to the polls for Tuesday’s primary election. That tally brought the total turnout to 34 percent, slightly trailing the 37 percent turnout seen in the 2008 contest when the state had a pivotal role in deciding the Democratic presidential nomination.
North Carolina played no such part in this year’s presidential contest, with Democratic President Barack Obama running without primary opposition and the Republican nomination virtually settled. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney carried North Carolina on Tuesday with 66 percent of the vote.
In the absence of a closely contested presidential race, the marriage amendment issue seemed a key force in bringing voters to the polls. The controversial proposal attracted national attention and saw former president Bill Clinton record a robo-call against the proposal.
The amendment was ultimately approved by a 61-39 percent margin, making North Carolina the last southern state to place a same-sex marriage ban in its constitution.
Another other top issue facing voters Tuesday was the gubernatorial primary. On the Republican side of the ledger, McCrory – the party’s 2008 nominee for governor – easily won with 83 percent of the vote.
Democrats saw a more tightly contested fight for their party’s nomination. In January, incumbent Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue stunned the state’s political observers by announcing she would not seek re-election. That news led to intense speculation about which high-profile Democrats might enter the race, with perhaps the most notable name being former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles.
Ultimately Bowles and several other Democrats opted against a run, leaving a field of six led by Etheridge, Dalton and state House member Bill Faison. Etheridge began the race with an early lead, but Dalton soon closed the gap, while Faison struggled to find traction.
As votes were tallied Tuesday, Dalton was the clear winner, defeating Etheridge 46-38 percent and avoiding a runoff.
Several other contests look headed to a July 17 runoff, including the Republican race for lieutenant governor, where Tony Gurley appeared to narrowly beat out Dale Folwell for second place and the chance to take on top finisher Dan Forest.
Debra Goldman seems headed to a primary runoff against Greg Dority in the GOP contest for state auditor, as do Richard Morgan and Mike Causey for state insurance commissioner. In the Republican primary for secretary of state, Ed Goodwin and Kenn Gardner appear positioned for a runoff, along with John Tedesco and Richard Alexander in the primary for state superintendent of public instruction.
The only statewide Democratic primary race that appears headed to a runoff is for state labor commissioner, where John Brooks would take on Marlowe Foster.
Several Republican congressional primaries could also move to a runoff, including the 8th, 9th and 11th districts.
Former U.S. attorney George Holding, a key figure in the prosecution of former U.S. senator John Edwards, defeated Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble in a hotly contested Republican primary in the 13th congressional district.