Dr. David Curtis of Denver isn’t halting his campaign for a state Senate seat after narrowly finishing second in a three-way Republican primary on Tuesday.
“Yes, I plan to seek a run off,” he told the Times-News in an email on Thursday.
Curtis finished with about 34 percent of the vote, behind Sen. Chris Carney of Mooresville who had about 35 percent. Karen Ray of Statesville finished third with about 30 percent. With no candidate getting at least 40 percent and only one seat in question, state election rules allow Curtis to demand a second primary, which would be July 17.
Sen. Carney is currently serving out the remainder of the term of the late Sen. James Forrester of Mount Holly in District 41, after beating out Curtis for an appointment by Republican Party Executive Committee members from the three counties affected, Lincoln, Gaston and Iredell.
However, due to redistricting this year, the district that now includes many of the same areas as the old 41 is District 44, the seat for which Carney, Curtis, Ray and Democrat Ross Bulla of Denver have been competing.
That shift in district makeup also reshaped the map in subtle but potentially significant ways. Very little from Gaston County remains in new District 44. Party officials there backed Carney’s appointment last year.
While all of Lincoln is in the new District 44, just as it was in the old District 41, the Iredell portion now in District 44 is considerably greater than was the portion previously in the old District 41. The old district included mostly areas near Carney’s Mooresville base, but the new one contains more precincts in central Iredell, near Statesville.
Curtis told the Times-News that he thinks he can win and pointed to the shifting loyalties on the new map as a reason why.
“I have been endorsed by Karen Ray,” he announced, suggesting he could pull much of her support from Iredell and areas of Gaston.
Curtis suspects his very strong showing in Lincoln County could be even greater in a second primary.
“I will get more support in this county,” he wrote. “There were some Republicans in this county who worked for Mr. Carney because they felt that I was not a viable candidate. Since I won Lincoln County by more than 2,300 votes, I hope that they will now support me.”
Whoever wins on July 17 will face Bulla in November. The changing district map could also make that race more competitive, with more Democratic areas of Iredell being added to what has typically been a safe Republican seat.
Also on the July 17 Republican second-primary ballot will be contests for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state superintendent of public instruction, state insurance commissioner, and state auditor.