and FRANK TAYLOR
Lincoln Times-News staff
With two appointed incumbents seeking election in their own right to seats in the North Carolina General Assembly, Lincoln County Republican primary voters strongly backed Rep. Jason Saine of Denver but opposed Sen. Chris Carney of Mooresville.
While the results in the N.C. House race are final, the outcome of the Senate race is anything but certain, as Carney gained enough support in his native Iredell County to edge ahead of Lincoln County favorite son Dr. David Curtis, but can’t prevent a second primary if Curtis seeks a runoff.
Regardless, waiting for the winner of the Senate contest in November is Democratic candidate Ross Bulla of Denver, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.
Curtis was dominant in Lincoln County with 47.57 percent of the vote in the three-way contest, but Carney proved strong on his home turf near Mooresville, as well as in the small portion of Gaston County that is included in the 44th District.
Curtis appeared to lead the race for much of the night Tuesday, but correctly foresaw Carney gaining on him as the final precincts to report were clearly in his South Iredell base.
Before the night’s final results were known, Curtis told supporters at Lincoln County Republican headquarters in Lincolnton that he didn’t expect to win Iredell but hoped to at least “lose it small.”
Overall, Carney had about 35 percent of the vote to roughly 34 percent for Curtis, with third-place finisher Karen Ray of Statesville getting about 30 percent.
With none of them getting at least 40 percent, the top two finishers have the right to a second primary. However, the going may be tougher for Curtis in any next round, without anyone to split Carney’s backing in Iredell County.
Meanwhile, Saine coasted to a nearly 52 percent majority in his race against Lincoln County Commissioner Jim Klein of Denver and Charles Newman of Lincolnton. Saine performed well in most of Lincoln County, with Klein leading in his home turf in parts of Denver and finishing with about 34 percent of the vote.
Saine told the crowd at Republican headquarters that he had prevailed in a hard fight because he “fought a little harder.”
He said his victory shows that Lincoln County voters are for less government, lower taxes and more freedom.
However, he credited his support for Amendment One in the Legislature with bolstering his support.
Saying he was running on just two hours of sleep, Saine said he expected to sleep fine Tuesday night and hoped his detractors would as well.
With no opponent in November, Saine can now focus on the business of the Legislature, and promised to take his fight to Raleigh.
“We have a huge deficit hole to fill,” he told the Times-News. Saying there was much more to do, he added, “Tonight is just a small part of it.”