The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

May 16, 2014

Campaigns turn to November

Thursday, May 15, 2014 — RALEIGH – The polls closed, the votes were counted and the May 6 primary is officially in the books. There will be some runoff elections across the state following the primary, but for the most part ballots are now set for the general election.

The marquee primary was the Republican competition in the U.S. Senate race. Eight candidates were vying for the chance to take on first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, and all eyes – in North Carolina and across the country – were on N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis and his ability to secure the nomination without a runoff.

As the results were tallied it soon became clear that Tillis would eclipse the 40 percent threshold and secure the nomination outright. When all ballots were counted, Tillis ended up with around 90,000 more votes than his next closest competitor, physician Greg Brannon.

Tillis and Hagan will now square off in what is sure to be a costly, competitive and, most likely, nasty campaign. Hagan faced a couple of lesser-known candidates in a Democratic primary herself, and, perhaps surprisingly, she only garnered 77 percent of the vote in that three-way race. Despite that, her winning the primary was never in question and she was able to amass a fairly significant war chest heading into the general election.

The other statewide primary was for the N.C. Supreme Court. In the past, these judicial campaigns had been relatively quiet affairs, but not this time. Incumbent Justice Robin Hudson was being challenged by two opponents – Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson and attorney Jeanette Doran. Outside interests spent over $1 million in this race trying to beat Hudson, which included airing an extremely negative ad accusing her of siding with child molesters.

Despite the deluge of outside money targeting her, Hudson advanced to the general election with relative ease, securing more than 42 percent of the vote. Levinson finished second with 37 percent, leaving Doran in a distant third with 21 percent. Hudson and Levinson will now face each other in the general election, which, unfortunately, is sure to feature more outside spending and negative attacks.

The congressional primaries didn’t bring many surprises. All of the incumbents survived their primary challenges and, as of this writing, Clay Aiken was clinging to a narrow lead in the District 2 Democratic primary. But with the sudden death of opponent Keith Crisco, there’s uncertainity as to what will happen next.

Finally, in the General Assembly, four incumbents had their hopes of reelection dashed by losing their party’s primary, while another handful were reelected outright on May 6 since they face no opposition in the general election.

Unfortunately, all of these races were decided by only a fraction of the voters in the state. While voter turnout improved over the 2010 numbers, the last non-presidential primary year, it still fell just shy of 16 percent. That’s less than one in five North Carolina voters participating in what was a very important election.

We are bound to see higher voter participation in November, but if history is our guide, it will still hover around only 50 percent of all registered voters.

With the primary in the books, voters may get a summer reprieve from the onslaught of television ads before the general election heats up this fall. Then again, with the outside money we’ve already seen spent in 2014, and the competitive U.S. Senate and N.C. Supreme Court races, we might be in for a long year.

Brent Laurenz is executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education and a contributor to He can be contacted at


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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

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