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Top Primary Takeaways > What You Need to Know

After much anticipation, North Carolina’s primary election was held on Tuesday. After the polls closed, there were several notable results that raised eyebrows across the state. Following is the NC Chamber’s primary recap from NC Chamber Political Director Kirk O’Steen.

U.S. Senate
There were no surprises in the primaries for U.S. Senate. Democrat Cheri Beasley, who previously served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, won easily with 81 percent of votes.

Congressman Ted Budd also enjoyed a convincing victory with 58 percent of the vote in the Republican Senate Primary. Budd’s victory caps off a remarkable surge into first place over the last 10 weeks of the election. His victory is in line with the NC Chamber’s findings when we polled likely GOP Primary voters in late April and found Budd to have a commanding lead.

Congressman Budd and Chief Justice Beasley will face off this November in one of the most high-profile Senate races in the country, with control of the Senate hanging in the balance.

The biggest story coming out of North Carolina congressional primaries was the defeat of Congressman Madison Cawthorn. The young congressman, who has wrapped himself in controversy during his short tenure in office, narrowly lost to State Senator Chuck Edwards. Edwards is a small business owner, NC Chamber alumni, and recognized NC Chamber Jobs Champion based on his voting record while serving in the N.C. Senate.

Also notable were the victories of Wiley Nickel (D) and Bo Hines (R) in N.C. Congressional District 13. The district, which includes southern Wake County, Johnston County, and parts of Harnett and Greene County, is rated as one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country. Nickel, a state senator, won comfortably against his former colleague Sam Searcy.

Bo Hines, a political newcomer, won victory and avoided a run-off election, in large part due to the endorsement of President Donald Trump and the support of the conservative Club for Growth organization. This race could be one to keep an eye on this fall as a bellwether for Republicans’ prospects as they look to gain control of Congress for the first time since 2018.

N.C. Senate
There were a few notable victories across the N.C. Senate races.

Senator Norm Sanderson rode a huge margin of victory in his home county of Carteret to beat fellow State Senator, Bob Steinburg.

Senator Ralph Hise narrowly defeated Senator Deanna Ballard after the two were double bunked in Senate District 47.

Senator Vickie Sawyer, a key part of the NC Chamber’s transportation initiative, won more than 82 percent of the vote against her primary challenger, Tom Fyler.

N.C. House
Jarrod Lowery, of NC Chamber Cornerstone member Mountaire Farms, defeated Mickey Biggs in the Republican primary for House District 47. Lowery hopes to become the first Republican to win the district in November.

Freshman legislator Representative Ben Moss narrowly defeated House Deputy Whip Jamie Boles in the House District 52 Republican primary.

Former State Representative Tricia Cotham won the Democratic Primary in House District 112 and will likely have an easy campaign in the general election to return to the N.C. House.

In the N.C. Supreme Court races, Trey Allen defeated April Wood and Victoria Prince on Tuesday night and will face longtime N.C. Supreme Court Justice Sam Irvin IV in November. There are two state supreme court seats on the ballot this November with control of the state’s highest court up for grabs. The other high court match-up will be between Lucy Allen and Richard Dietz, neither of who were opposed in their party primaries.

Key Takeaways

Former President Trump’s endorsement continues to be influential in Republican primaries, as evidenced by the victory of a previously unknown Bo Hines. Rep. Cawthorn’s defeat, however, proves that an endorsement isn’t enough to overcome a candidate who has been mired in controversy.

Moderate, consensus candidates performed poorly among primary voters as evidenced by the losses of Patrick Buffkin and Kirk deViere in the Democratic primaries for N.C. Senate District 13 and N.C. Sente District 19, and the narrow victory of former Representative Steve Ross in N.C. House District 63. Now more than ever, primary voters in hotly contested races seem to be more interested in ideological warriors over candidates more likely to work across the aisle with the opposition party.

NC Chamber Jobs Champions were overwhelmingly popular with primary voters. With inflation and supply-chain issues at the forefront of North Carolinians’ minds, a proven record for supporting education and workforce development, investing in infrastructure, and creating a healthy business environment matters to voters when selecting their preferred candidates.

To learn more or to get engaged with the NC Chamber’s Political Program, contact Kirk O’Steen.