SARAH LOWERY and FRANK TAYLOR
Lincoln Times-News staff
Denver eye doctor Dr. David Curtis rode a swell of Lincoln County support in Tuesday’s second primary to an easy victory in his bid for the N.C. Senate District 44 Republican nomination over Sen. Chris Carney of Mooresville.
The newly redrawn district includes all of Lincoln County, along with the more densely populated southern half of Iredell County and two precincts in Gaston County. Curtis won more than 80 percent of the vote in Lincoln County to build an edge of more than 1,500 votes.
Carney won both of the other counties, but not by the margins necessary to fend off Curtis’ challenge. According to the state’s unofficial tally, Curtis received 4,531 votes overall, with Carney getting 3,126.
The result ensures Lincoln County representation from a resident of the county for the first time in several years since Curtis’ Democratic opponent in November, security expert Ross Bulla, is also from Denver.
The county was previously part of District 41, to which the late Sen. David Forrester of Mount Holly in Gaston County had been elected over several terms. Carney was appointed upon Forrester’s death last fall to fill out his term.
Speaking to the Times-News on Tuesday, Curtis was highly complementary of his opponent’s service, saying he “did a great job in short session” and indicating agreement with Carney’s voting record in the Senate.
Curtis told the Times-News that he believes three determining factors allowed him to win the race. Those factors, he said, were that he “worked very hard” making calls and visiting houses during the campaign, that he had the support of Karen Ray and many of those who had voted for her in May’s primary and, lastly, Carney’s involvement with MI-Connection cable company in Mooresville.
During the May 8 primary, Iredell voters were split between former N.C. Rep. Karen Ray and Carney, both residents of that county, with a few votes also going to Curtis. Once she was eliminated, Ray publicly urged her supporters to back Curtis.
Carney upset some in his party with his action while a member of the Mooresville city council, supporting the city’s venture into the cable-TV business, widely criticized as an expensive boondoggle.
Regarding his upcoming race against Bulla, Curtis said he doesn’t expect he will have to work as hard for votes in November.
“I don’t think it will be a very competitive race,” he said. He noted that this is a “conservative, Republican district,” adding that his opponent is a “not-very conservative Democrat.”
Curtis said he thinks Bulla’s opposition to Amendment One, the same-sex marriage ban passed by North Carolina voters in May, will work against the Democrat’s favor in November.
Bulla has said he thought the amendment was unnecessary because state law already prohibits gay marriage.
Overall election turnout in Lincoln County was fairly light at about 6 percent, though that was nearly double the statewide turnout.
Lincoln County voters also participated in several statewide races, with results generally mirroring those across North Carolina.
Dan Forest won both the county and the state Republican contest for lieutenant governor over Tony Gurley.
Mike Causey narrowly won Lincoln County in the Republican race for commissioner of insurance with Richard Morgan, former co-speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives, but Causey won by a wider margin statewide, with many Republican leaders critical of Morgan’s cooperation with Democrats, including those like former House Speaker Jim Black and former Gov. Mike Easley, who have been convicted of felonies related to their conduct in office.
In two other Republican races, the state went a different direction than Lincoln County, with Richard Alexander capturing roughly two-thirds of the Lincoln vote but falling to John Tedesco in the statewide contest for superintendent of public instruction, and Ken Gardner enjoying a slight Lincoln County edge over Ed Goodwin for secretary of state, but North Carolina voters going with Goodwin.
On the Democratic side, Lincoln voters were in synch with those across the state in backing commissioner of labor candidate John C. Brooks, who carried nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Lincoln County was among the first in the state to report results with only minor difficulties in communication between the precincts and the county elections office in Lincolnton. A faulty phone cord attached to the voting machine modem in Buffalo Shoals caused about a 10-minute delay, but complete results were tabulated before 8 p.m., less than half an hour after the polls closed.
Most other counties saw results trickle in throughout the night over a number of hours.