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Good Night for GOP in Close NC Races

Ballots are cast Tuesday at East Carteret High School’s Piner Auditorium in Beaufort. Photo: Dylan Ray

Republicans appeared close to sweeping the top of the ticket in North Carolina late Tuesday night, with President Donald Trump leading Joe Biden and incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis ahead of his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.

The races went back and forth throughout the evening, but unofficial results showed both Republicans ahead with only a few precincts left.

If they are close enough, the races could go to a recount, but the full vote won’t be certified until later this month when all mail-in and provisional ballots are recorded.

Gov. Roy Cooper won another term in his race against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, but it’s likely he’ll serve alongside another Republican in the role, with Mark Robinson well ahead of Democrat Yvonne Holley.

“Tonight’s decisive victory sends the message loud and clear — North Carolinians trust Roy Cooper to put them first. These results show that North Carolinians want to expand Medicaid, boost public education and keep health and safety first during this pandemic. North Carolinians rejected Dan Forest’s campaign of fear and division and dangerous lies and opted instead for steady, decisive, and compassionate leadership,” Cooper’s campaign communications director Liz Doherty said in a statement.

Republicans held their majorities in the state House and Senate picking up at least three seats in the House and taking a Senate seat lost in 2018’s closest races.

With all precincts reporting, former Sen. Michael Lee reclaimed his seat from incumbent Sen. Harper Peterson in District 9 in New Hanover County.

Lee, who lost by 231 votes to two years ago, was 1,468 votes ahead Tuesday night.

In another heavily contested coastal Senate race, Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, held off a challenge from Democrat Tess Judge, winning by roughly 1,000 votes.

In House races, Democrats picked up a House seat near Greenville, one of two they gained in the chamber due to court-ordered redistricting. Brian Farkas defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Perrin Jones by a margin of 800 votes.

All other incumbents in the coastal delegation held their seats and in the only open seat Republican Charlie Miller of Southport handily defeated New Hanover Democrat Marcia Morgan in District 19.

But Democrats, who won 10 seats in the House in 2018, likely lost ground this election with at least four incumbents defeated by GOP challengers.

Carteret County Elections Specialist II Brenda Smith fields Election Day calls at the Board of Elections office in Beaufort. Photo: Dylan Ray

No major technical issues with voting were apparent late Tuesday.

“We’re doing well considering there’s a pandemic and it’s a presidential election,” said Carteret County Board of Elections Director Caitlin Sabadish.

She said all county precincts ran smoothly Tuesday with no waiting and “courteous electioneers.”

“We had a line of ten people at six-thirty morning ready to vote.” “We have had constant voters all day,” said Hillary Schultz, a Carteret County precinct judge in Merrimon.

The county did have a minor issue just after polls closed, when the board of elections staff hit a temporary snag and had to call state elections officials to troubleshoot an error related to  one-stop early voting results. More than 66% of Carteret County’s registered voters cast their ballots early.

Susan Fetzer, the chief judge at the Beaufort No. 1 polling precinct at the Boys and Girls Club of Coastal Carolina in Carteret County, said the precinct had 32 pages of early voters to process.

“We have had no issues, mechanical or otherwise,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “My staff has been great.”

Unofficial results

The following are North Carolina State Board of Elections unofficial results as of 12:40 a.m. Wednesday:


U.S. President

  • Donald J. Trump (R) Ballot Count: 2,732,084; Percent 49.8%
  • Joseph R. Biden (D) Ballot Count: 2,655,383; Percent 48.57%

U.S. Senate

  • Thom Tillis (R) Ballot Count: 2,640,379; Percent 48.73%
  • Cal Cunningham (D) 2,543,672; Percent 46.94%

U.S. House Of Representatives 1st District (Bertie, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Pitt, Vance, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Wilson)

  • G.K. Butterfield (D) Ballot Count: 187,125; Percent 54.14%
  • Sandy Smith (R) Ballot Count: 158,530; Percent 45.86%

U.S. House Of Representatives 3rd District (Beaufort, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell)

  • Greg Murphy (R) Ballot Count: 227,462; Percent: 63.45%
  • Daryl Farrow (D) Ballot Count: 131,011; Percent: 36.55%

U.S. House of Representatives 7th District  (Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Harnett, Johnston, New Hanover, Pender, Sampson)

  • David Rouzer (R) Ballot Count: 269,847; Percent 60.35%
  • Christopher M. Ward (D) Ballot Count: 176,610; Percent: 39.50%



  • Roy Cooper (D) Ballot Count: 2,803,782; Percent: 51.48%
  • Dan Forest (R) Ballot Count: 2,563,258; Percent: 47.06%

Lt. Governor

  • Mark Robinson (R) Ballot Count: 2,773,751; Percent: 51.66%
  • Yvonne Lewis Holley (D) Ballot Count: 2,595,868; Percent: 48.34%

Attorney General

  • Josh Stein (D) Ballot Count: 2,684,854; Percent: 50.10%
  • Jim O’Neill (R) Ballot Count: 2,674,085; Percent 49.90%


  • Beth A. Wood (D) Ballot Count: 2,701,357; Percent 50.85%
  • Anthony Wayne “Tony” Street (R) Ballot Count: 2,611,323; Percent 49.1%

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Steve Troxler (R) Ballot Count: 2,874,607; Percent 53.89%
  • Jenna Wadsworth (D) Ballot Count: 2,459,049; Percent 46.11%

Commissioner of Insurance

  • Mike Causey (R) Ballot Count: 2,749,145; Percent: 51.78%
  • Wayne Goodwin (D) Ballot Count: 2,559,696; Percent 48.22%

Commissioner of Labor

  • Josh Dobson (R) Ballot Count: 2,701,336 Percent: 50.86%
  • Jessica Holmes (D) Ballot Count: 2,609,502; Percent: 49.14%

Secretary of State

  • Elaine Marshall (D) Ballot Count: 2,726,837; Percent 51.14%
  • E.C. Sykes (R) Ballot Count: 2,605,730; Percent 48.86%

Superintendent of Public Instruction

  • Catherine Truitt (R) Ballot Count: 2,726,948; Percent 51.40%
  • Jen Mangrum (D) Ballot Count: 2,578,238; Percent 48.60%


  • Dale R. Folwell (R) Ballot Count: 2,786,254; Percent: 52.60%
  • Ronnie Chatterji (D) Ballot Count: 2,510,557: Percent 47.40%

N.C. Senate 1st District (Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, Washington)

  • Bob Steinburg (R) Ballot Count: 57,913; Percent: 55.27%
  • Tess Judge (D) Ballot Count: 46,862; Percent: 44.73%

N.C. Senate 2nd District (Carteret, Craven, Pamlico)

  • Norman W. Sanderson (R) Ballot Count: 62,670; Percent: 63.22%
  • Libbie Griffin (D) Ballot Count: 32,634; Percent: 32.92%

N.C. Senate 3rd District (Beaufort, Bertie, Martin, Northampton, Vance, Warren)

  • Ernestine (Byrd) Bazemore (D) Ballot Count: 45,246; Percent: 51.99%
  • Thomas S. Hester, Jr. (R) Ballot Count: 41,775; Percent: 48.01%

N.C. Senate 6th District (Jones, Onslow)

  • Michael A. Lazzara (R) Ballot Count: 47,945; Percent: 65.66%
  • Ike Johnson (D) Ballot Count: 25,078; Percent: 34.34%

N.C.  Senate 8th District (Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender)

  • Bill Rabon (R) Ballot Count: 84,862; Percent: 62.03%
  • David Sink (D) Ballot Count: 47,689; Percent: 34.86%

N.C.  Senate 9th District (New Hanover)

  • Michael Lee (R) Ballot Count: 62,343; Percent: 50.60%
  • Harper Peterson (D) Ballot Count: 60,875; Percent: 49.40%

N.C. House of Representatives 1st District (Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Perquimans, Tyrrell, Washington)

  • Edward C. Goodwin (R) Ballot Count: 20,598; Percent: 54.55%
  • Emily Bunch Nicholson (D) Ballot Count: 17,160; Percent: 45.45%

N.C. House of Representatives 3rd District (Craven)

  • Steve Tyson (R) Ballot Count: 22,443; Percent: 60.81%
  • Dorothea Downing White (D) Ballot Count: 14,461; Percent: 39.19%

N.C. House of Representatives 4th District (Duplin, Onslow)

  • Jimmy Dixon (R) Ballot Count: 21,066; Percent: 65.85%
  • Christopher Schulte (D) Ballot Count: 10,924; Percent: 34.15%

N.C. House of Representatives 5th District (Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank)

  • Howard J. Hunter III (D) Ballot Count: 19,862; Percent: 56.72%
  • Donald Kirkland (R) Ballot Count: 15,155; Percent: 43.28%

N.C. House of Representatives 6th District (Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico)

  • Bobby Hanig (R) Ballot Count: 30,843; Percent: 64.37%
  • Tommy Fulcher (D) Ballot Count: 17,071; Percent: 35.63%

N.C. House of Representatives 13th District (Jones, Carteret)

  • Patricia “Pat” McElraft, (R) Ballot Count: 33,316; Percent: 71.70%
  • Buck Bayliff (D) Ballot Count: 13,148; Percent: 28.30%

N.C. House of Representatives 14th District (Onslow)

  • George G. Cleveland (R) Ballot Count: 19,217; Percent 60.18%
  • Marcy Wofford (D) Ballot Count: 12,716; Percent 39.82%

N.C. House of Representatives 15th District (Onslow)

  • Phillip Shepard (R) Ballot Count: 17,382; Percent: 69.68%
  • Carolyn F. Gomaa (D) Ballot Count: 7,564; Percent: 30.32%

N.C. House of Representatives 16th District (Columbus, Pender)

  • Carson Smith (R) Ballot Count: 29,990; Percent: 64.40%
  • Debbi Fintak (D) Ballot Count: 16,576; Percent: 35.60%

N.C. House of Representatives 17th District (Brunswick)

  • Frank Iler (R) Ballot Count: 36,560; Percent:62.50%
  • Tom Simmons (D) Ballot Count: 21,939; Percent: 37.50%

N.C. House Of Representatives 18th District (New Hanover)

  • Deb Butler (D) Ballot Count: 25,352; Percent 59.75%
  • Warren Kennedy (R) Ballot Count: 17,078; Percent 40.25%

N.C. House of Representatives 19th District (Brunswick, New Hanover)

  • Charlie Miller (R) Ballot Count: 33,904; Percent 58.06%
  • Marcia Morgan (D) Ballot Count: 24,491 Percent: 41.94%

N.C. House of Representatives 20th District (New Hanover)

  • Ted Davis Jr. (R) Ballot Count: 27,764; Percent: 55.41%
  • Adam Ericson (D) Ballot Count: 22,344; Percent: 44.59%

N.C. House of Representatives 79th District (Beaufort, Craven)

  • Mitchell Smith Setzer (R) Ballot Count: 30,861; Percent 74.42%
  • Greg Cranford (D) Ballot Count: 10,610; Percent 25.58%


Mark Hibbs, Jennifer Allen and Dylan Ray contributed to this report.

About the Author

Kirk Ross

Kirk Ross is a longtime North Carolina journalist based in the Triangle. In addition to Coastal Review Online, he covers the legislature and state government for Carolina Public Press and The Washington Post. He can be reached at