Politics & Government
7:37 am
Wed May 7, 2014

A Nominee And A Runoff: Open Congressional Races

 Voters narrowed the crowded field of candidates in two open congressional races last night. They chose a Democratic nominee in the 12th and narrowed a group of Republicans in the 6th to two.  

Candidates in local, state and federal races were chasing the number 40 last night. Republicans in the conservative tilting 6th and Democrats in the liberal leaning 12th needed 40-percent of the vote in order to avoid a potential run-off and receive the nomination. 

Long-time state House member Alma Adams of Greensboro was able to do what some didn’t expect.  

"Together we did what they said couldn’t be done. We got over 40-percent in the primary vote. I am so proud of you," she told a small crowd in Greensboro, on Tuesday night. 

Adams received more than 43- percent of the vote and moves on to the general election in the 12th. The second place finisher was State Senator Malcolm Graham of Charlotte – he captured about 22- percent of the vote. This is one of two minority-majority districts in the state and the 12th meanders from Greensboro down to Charlotte. 

Adams is expected to beat Republican Vince Coakley – a former TV anchor who received almost 80- percent of the Republican vote last night. 

Eric Herberlig is a Political Science professor at UNC-Charlotte. 

"What I think has really helped her is a... Being the only female in the race, also having endorsements from education groups, labor groups, national women’s groups." 

Alma Adams (third from left) beat all of her Democratic Primary Challengers on Tuesday night.
Alma Adams (third from left) beat all of her Democratic Primary Challengers on Tuesday night.
Credit Jeff Tiberii
 

The 12th is one of two Congressional races without an incumbent. Meanwhile that 40- percent mark proved to be elusive for Republicans in the 6th. 

Phil Berger, Jr. is an elected District Attorney in Rockingham County. He has Tea Party support and speaks frequently about repealing Obamacare. He spoke to crowd of supporters at a Greensboro restaurant at about 10:30. At that point returns showed him with about 38- percent of the vote. 

"Well you know we’re not going to predict – we don’t have a crystal ball; but certainly where we are at the current stage with the numbers. We feel very confident and very pleased with the number we were able to post, thus far." 

Berger, Jr. is the son of Phil Berger Senior, the leader of the State Senate. As the night went on Berger Jr's overall percentage of the vote and his advantage, decreased. Closing in was Mark Walker a Greensboro Pastor who joined this race a year ago, planning to take on the now headed-for-retirement 83-year-old Coble. 

"Our goal all along was to look at this race in three phases – taking on a state-wide name recognition like Berger – we knew it would be a little bit of a tough road ahead of us. But we wanted to get through what we feel like maybe the toughest, which was phase 1. Will you ask for a run-off? Yes we will ask for a run-off in the next 24-to-48 hours." 

Walker spoke to his supporters at an airport hotel in Greensboro. By the time all of his supporters departed he was within 10 percentage points of Berger, Jr.  Walker says he expects the support from all seven of the other republicans in this primary. Berger, Jr. picked up the endorsement of Newt Gingrich earlier this week. 

John Dinan is professor of politics at Wake Forest University. He says second primaries, or run-offs, can be quirky and unpredictable.  

"Often time in primaries of this kind where there aren’t a whole lot of distinguishing features in terms of policy stances it comes down to geography – who polls better in certain areas of the district, who can pull out there core supporters to vote in a run-off, where run-offs where inherently low turnout affairs." 

Awaiting the Republican nominee is Laura Fjeld who received better than 56-percent of the Democratic vote last night. She will be considered the underdog in the general election. As for the battle between Walker and Berger Junior - Less than five-percent of registered voters are expected to turn out for that run-off on July 15th.