The Latest: North Carolina Congress race still very close
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the general election in North Carolina (all times local):
A North Carolina congressional race remains too close to call even after all precincts reported their totals.
Election numbers show Republican Mark Harris narrowly ahead of Democrat Dan McCready in the south-central 9th District. The unofficial results have Harris with a lead of about 1,850 votes from almost 280,000 ballots cast in the race. Absentee ballots will continue to trickle in this week.
The current margin between Harris and McCready means McCready could seek a recount.
Republicans have held the 9th District seat since the early 1960s. Harris is a Baptist minister who upset Rep. Robert Pittenger in the May GOP primary. McCready is an Iraq War veteran and solar energy investment firm owner whose campaign outraised Harris.
North Carolina Democrats have won enough state House seats to end the Republicans’ veto-proof control, handing Gov. Roy Cooper more leverage to fight right-leaning policies and press his agenda.
Democrats won at least 49 of 120 House seats on Tuesday — one more than was needed to end the GOP’s supermajority in the chamber. The supermajority had allowed Republicans to override Cooper vetoes at will.
Democrats needed to pick up at least four House seats to help the Democratic governor, who’s been hamstrung by the General Assembly since he was elected in 2016. Republican lawmakers have eroded his powers and avoided his proposals on teacher pay, expanding Medicaid and blocking recent tax cuts.
Democrats could strengthen their hand further if they pick up enough Senate seats to end the GOP’s supermajority there.
U.S. Rep. George Holding has won a fourth term, defeating a former Democratic state lawmaker in North Carolina’s 2nd District.
Holding defeated Linda Coleman in the district that includes all or parts of six counties in central and eastern North Carolina.
During an October debate, Holding emphasized his support of tax cuts, while Coleman stressed the importance of keeping drug costs low and making sure people with pre-existing conditions can find health insurance.
The 50-year-old Holding is a former U.S. attorney whose website lists his successful prosecutions of several politicians.
The 69-year-old Coleman previously had lost two races for lieutenant governor. Her website listed health care, education, jobs, the environment, gun safety and fair elections as her priorities.
North Carolina voters have approved constitutional amendments that will lock in recent state income tax cuts, expand crime victims’ rights and affirm so-called “traditional” methods of hunting and fishing.
An amendment to the state constitution approved on Tuesday caps the maximum state income tax at 7 percent, down from 10 percent. Critics said the result could mean that a recession could lead legislators to raise sales or property taxes or impose cutbacks on education, safety and other government services.
A constitutional change that would expand guarantees to crime victims was approved in exchange for a predicted cost of about $11 million per year.
North Carolinians also approved enshrining hunting and fishing with undefined “traditional methods,” but also limited those rights to take wildlife to laws the General Assembly adopts.
A new constitutional amendment will require North Carolina voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to cast ballots, but legislators will decide later what will count as valid and what won’t.
A change to North Carolina’s constitution approved Tuesday adds the state to the handful in the country that strictly require showing a photo ID to a poll worker when voting.
Some of the states allow exceptions to the law if people have religious objections to being photographed, are poor, or are granted special confidentiality as domestic abuse or stalking victims. North Carolina lawmakers aren’t required to make any exceptions.
Legislators haven’t detailed how voters could get the photo ID needed to vote or how much it would cost the state.
One-term Republican Congressman Ted Budd of North Carolina has retained his seat, defeating the Democratic challenger in a close race that drew President Donald Trump’s attention.
The 47-year-old gun store owner defeated Democrat Kathy Manning Tuesday in the 13th District, which stretches from Greensboro to the northern suburbs of Charlotte.
Budd had won comfortably in 2016, but found himself in a tight race against the lawyer and community fundraiser.
Trump came to Budd’s aid in a district the president won in 2016 by a margin of 9.2 points.
Budd appeared in late October at a Charlotte rally where Trump praised him for his stance on protecting the border and gun rights. It was part of the president’s rally blitz to help vulnerable Republicans. Trump also appeared at a fundraiser for Budd and another congressional candidate in August.
Democrat Anita Earls has unseated an incumbent to join the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The longtime civil rights lawyer from Durham defeated Associate Justice Barbara Jackson and Raleigh lawyer Chris Anglin on Tuesday.
Earls’ victory means Democrats now hold five of the seven seats on the state’s highest court. In 2016, Republicans held a 4-3 advantage.
Earls led the Southern Coalition for Social Justice when she helped sue over legislative and congressional districts and challenged a voter ID law.
Jackson and Anglin both ran as Republicans in the officially partisan election, but legislators cancelled party primaries this year, leading to multiple candidates.
Anglin was a registered Democrat but switched parties just before filing. Unhappy GOP lawmakers passed a last-minute law to keep Anglin’s Republican label off ballots, but courts threw it out.
North Carolina has rejected a constitutional amendment that would have permanently given state lawmakers more power over the makeup of a state board that decides election and ethics disputes.
The amendment rejected Tuesday by voters was designed by Republican legislators to create an eight-member Board of Elections and Ethics divided along party lines. Appointments to the board were traditionally overseen by the state’s governors before lawmakers began taking steps in the past two years to reduce the governor’s role in the process.
The amendment was opposed by all living governors, both Republican and Democrat.
Tuesday’s vote came after a legal battle between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over the board. The state Supreme Court struck down a 2017 law establishing a politically divided eight-member board because it took executive authority from governors.
A Republican congressman has won his fourth term in office as voters selected him over a Democratic challenger and small business owner to represent North Carolina’s 8th District.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson won re-election Tuesday over Frank McNeill to represent the district that stretches southeast from Concord to Fayetteville.
The 47-year-old Hudson stressed his opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act that became law under the Obama administration and his support of gun rights. His campaign website said he was invited to speak at this year’s National Rifle Association convention, along with President Donald Trump.
On his campaign website, McNeill stressed his support of affordable health care, along with public schools and the environment. The 62-year-old McNeill owns his family’s business, McNeill Oil and Propane, and is the former mayor of Aberdeen.
Voters have punched tickets for several North Carolina congressional incumbents to return to Washington in January.
All three Democrats in the delegation won re-election Tuesday. That includes G.K. Butterfield in the 1st District, David Price in the 4th and Alma Adams in the 12th. Price was first elected to Congress in 1986. Butterfield is the former Congressional Black Caucus chairman.
Republican members in favorable GOP districts also are getting additional two-year terms. They include Virginia Foxx in the 5th District, Mark Walker in the 6th, David Rouzer in the 7th, Patrick McHenry in the 10th and Mark Meadows in the 11th. Meadows leads the House Freedom Caucus. McHenry is the Republicans’ chief deputy whip.
Third District GOP Rep. Walter Jones faced no ballot opposition Tuesday.
North Carolina voters are dumping a drive by state legislators to gain the dominant role in picking judges when seats are vacant, a move that would have undercut a governor’s powers.
Voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to change the state constitution in ways that would have diminished the governor’s authority to fill judicial vacancies.
The amendment was opposed by all living governors, both Republican and Democrat.
The amendment also would have allowed replacement judges to stay in their appointed jobs for four years and get established. Judges who fill vacant seats now can serve only until the next election, meaning two years or less.
The change also could have weakened gubernatorial powers because governors wouldn’t be able to veto legislation filling a judicial vacancy, giving lawmakers a way to push through new issues.
North Carolina polls have closed across the state.
People waiting in line at the 2,700 precincts statewide at the 7:30 p.m. closing time are still able to vote.
Two voting locations will remain open a little longer after some delays earlier in the day.
The state elections board voted to keep a Tabor City precinct site open until after 9 p.m. It opened Tuesday morning lacking one of three ballot styles that precinct voters can cast there. And a Gastonia precinct will accept voters 20 minutes longer after it was evacuated when a fire alarm sounded at the polling site.
North Carolina voters are choosing all 170 members of the General Assembly and members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation. There are also four statewide appellate court seats and six constitutional referendums on the ballot.
Irish Beckett said she voted straight Democratic because she wants the country “to get back together.”
Beckett, a 56-year-old black woman who is a dialysis technician, said the country has had its differences, “but nothing like what we have now.”
Voting in Raleigh, Beckett said she’s disturbed by President Donald Trump’s comments that criticize people of certain ethnic backgrounds. She said there are bad people in every ethnic background, not just in people of color. With more Democrats elected, she said, “We can have our voices heard.”
Beckett said she doesn’t feel like she has a voice in the country’s direction right now because everything Trump says or does, “everybody goes along with it, and it shouldn’t be that way.”
Bob Jenkins says there are some instances where he will go against his Democratic leaning and vote for Republicans, but the Raleigh attorney says when it comes to legislative and congressional races, he’s sticking with his allegiance in the 2018 elections.
“But when it comes to the state House, state Senate, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, there aren’t any Republicans now who voice any type of approach that I find appropriate or even what would be beneficial to us,” said Jenkins, 56.
He grew up in a Democratic home. His mother was a two-term clerk of court in Rutherford County when he was a teenager.
“So I’ve been around politics all my life and grew up in an era where, of course when I was a kid, the Democratic Party ruled,” Jenkins said. “Things have changed, but I haven’t. I’m a stronger Democrat now than I used to be, given what’s going on in the broader picture.”
Jenkins said he was also troubled by the six constitutional amendments up for a vote in North Carolina on Tuesday, specifically the amendments lowering a cap on income tax rates and the right to hunt and fish.
“But a constitutional amendment protecting hunting and fishing . . . to me, that’s just ridiculous,” Jenkins said. “Hunting and fishing are not in danger. I find that troublesome, but that’s all coming out of the Republican-led General Assembly.”
Dora and Stuart Alexander are registered independents who used to be Democrats, but they didn’t waver in their support for Republicans in the 2018 elections.
Stuart Alexander, 63 and a sales manager for a computer company, said Democratic policies have failed and they have no real policies except to raise taxes. He also accused Democrats of touting divisiveness and accusing Republicans of things that they’re not doing.
Also, he said President Donald Trump is “heading down the right path.
“I like the path he’s on,” Alexander said. “I want to see him have all the help he needs in Congress.”
Asked why she voted straight Republican, Dora Alexander said, “How much time do you got?” adding, “Because the Democrats aren’t working.”
A supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service said he did something he doesn’t normally do and voted a straight Democratic ticket in North Carolina.
“It’s so far out of hand now, that was my best play,” said Calvin Lockhart, 37, of Raleigh.
Lockhart said he voted for all Democrats “to try to reverse the tables. I would prefer that it be primarily bipartisan. It should be even so they have to get the other side. Since it doesn’t work that way, you have to play within the system. . . . To me, it shouldn’t tilt left or right, it should be teamwork.”
He said he wasn’t voting on any particular issues but mainly on the issue that no Republicans will stand up to Trump “even though he’s not going right.” He said with Trump in office, “the Republicans are scared to speak up on issues they were vocal about before. And now they’re silent.”
North Carolina officials say high humidity is to blame after receiving reports that ballots in some precincts can’t be fed through tabulators, but they stress that all ballots will be counted.
The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement said in a news release Tuesday that it received reports that ballots can’t be fed through tabulators in some precincts in Wake County and elsewhere. Officials say such ballots are stored securely in “emergency bins” and will be tabulated as soon as possible.
Officials also announced the state board will meet Tuesday afternoon to consider the Columbus County Board of Elections’ request to extend voting hours at a precinct where workers didn’t have the correct ballot when polls opened.
North Carolina voters are deciding whether Gov. Roy Cooper and his Democratic colleagues will gain influence in the current Republican-dominated legislature, and if GOP policy proposals should be etched in the state constitution.
All 170 General Assembly seats are up for election Tuesday. Democrats needed to win four additional House seats or six more Senate seats to end the Republicans’ veto-proof control. That’s allowed Republicans to pass legislation at will, in particular those eroding Cooper’s powers the past two years.
Voters also are choosing seats for the U.S. House, county offices and for state courts, including one on the state Supreme Court. There are six constitutional amendments on the ballot.
A record number of voters cast early in-person ballots for a midterm, despite there being no major statewide race.