Primary winners, losers discuss outcome

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 5:09 pm

With the results back from all six counties, Ralph Hise will remain as the state senator for the 47th District.

Incumbent Hise defeated challenger Michael Lavender in the Republican primary for the N.C. Senate District 47, which includes McDowell, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford and Yancey counties. The Republican primary became the real race for the N.C. Senate’s 47th District since no Democrat filed to run for the seat.

The McDowell News attempted to contact Hise on Wednesday but was told by an intern that he was not available.

A resident of Mitchell County and former mayor of Spruce Pine, Hise did post a statement to his supporters on Facebook after the results from Tuesday’s primary came in.

“With all 73 precincts reporting, we have won this race 8,342 to 5,116 (62% to 38%) Winning all 6 counties in the District,” read Hise’s post on Facebook. “Thank everyone for your tremendous support!!! This has been a difficult race, but I am overwhelmed by the amount of prayers and encouragement we have received from so many of our friends over the past few weeks.”

The McDowell News spoke to Lavender the day after the primary. He will remain a McDowell County commissioner until his term expires in December. He said it was too early to speculate about whether it will run again for elected office.

“I think it’s too early to speculate on that right now,” he said Wednesday. “I certainly want to have a voice on things that are affecting our area. Whether that will be through elected office or other avenues, it’s too soon to speculate.”

Lavender said he wanted to thank the people from across the 47th District who supported him.

“I know I had a few people who told me they had changed parties because they wanted to support me,” he said. “I really appreciate that genuine level of enthusiasm and support. I think the folks who supported me feel strongly that the issues affecting education in the lower and middle classes in our district are very important and I hope Sen. Hise will carry that message to Raleigh. I do still want to be active and make our community and our district a better place for our residents.”

Lavender added he also appreciates the support and help from the state employees association who mounted an aggressive campaign and did independent advertising on his behalf.

Lavender did not carry his home county of McDowell, losing to Hise by a 1,113 to 1,045 margin with all 17 precincts reporting, according to the McDowell County Board of Elections. Hise got 51.58 percent of the Republican vote in McDowell while Lavender got 48.42 percent of the vote.

“The mailer on the marriage amendment, that’s what did it,” said Lavender. “I am convinced that’s what did it.”

A few days before the election, the Hise campaign mailed out a card referring to Lavender’s vote in March 2012 against a resolution by the McDowell County Commission in support of Amendment One.

During that discussion in March 2012, Lavender said he had a problem with the resolution because it encouraged people to vote a certain way. Lavender added at the time he was not against the proposed amendment that would define marriage in North Carolina as being between one man and one woman. He only objected to the commissioners telling folks how they should vote on the issue. He said this was a state issue and county commissioners should not take an official position.

The mailer that was sent out by the Hise campaign implied that Lavender was in support of gay marriage.

“It is what it is at this point and with the lower voter turnout, I accept that he is our senator and we will move on,” said Lavender on Wednesday.

As for the McDowell County Commission primaries, the top three Republican vote-getters will face the top three Democratic vote-getters.

In the GOP commission contest, incumbent David Walker led the ticket with 1,312 votes, or 22.71 percent.

“I want to thank every registered Republican voter who went out and cast a vote for me and every independent voter who cast a vote for me on Election Day,” said Walker. “My goal is to represent all the citizens of McDowell County in a fair, honest and professional manner. I am excited about the November elections and will work real hard to bring jobs to McDowell County and support our school system and promote recreational activities and programs for all citizens of McDowell County.”

Walker was followed by Tony Brown who came in with 1,179 votes, or 20.40 percent. This is Brown’s second attempt at running for county commissioner. “I am just really happy with the way it turned out,” said Brown. “I have worked really hard over the past couple of years. I look forward to the November run. I feel confident I will be successful.”

Matthew Crawford came in third with 984 votes, or 17.03 percent. But that was enough for him to earn a place on the November ballot.

“I am very humbled with the position I am in right now,” said Crawford. “I appreciate all those who came out and voted and those who helped me during this election process.”

Lynn Greene came in fourth with 960 votes, or 16.61 percent. Chris Allison came in fifth with 521 votes, or 9.02 percent while Jake Asta came in sixth with 482 votes, or 8.34 percent. Tom Fleming came in at seventh place with 340 votes, or 5.88 percent.

On the Democratic side, Virginia Williams was the top vote-getter in the primary for County Commission. She led with 663 votes, or 27.64 percent. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Williams was followed by Dean Henline, who came in second with 587 votes, or 24.47 percent. Henline could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

In the Democratic primary, only one vote separated the third-place from the fourth-place winner. With all precincts reporting, Gary Loudermilk came in third with 575 votes, or 23.97 percent, compared to Michelle Price's 574 votes, or 23.93 percent.

“I am disappointed in the number of Democrats who voted compared to the Republicans,” said Loudermilk. “I would like to have had more.”

Loudermilk thanked all those who supported and helped him in his campaign. He added he got support from Republicans too.

Elections Director Kim Welborn said Price can call for a recount since there is a difference of only one vote. That would take place after the canvass, which will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday. On that day, the McDowell Board of Elections will hold the canvass of the results. Until then, the results are unofficial.

The McDowell News attempted to contact Price about the results of the primary and whether she will ask for a recount. She could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The voter turnout was very low for the primary elections. Welborn said the turnout was only 11.5 percent. That includes the early voting period too.

On Friday morning, the Board of Elections will look at the provisional ballots. When there is a question about whether or not a person is eligible to vote, then poll workers give that person a provisional ballot so he or she can vote. The provisional ballots will be looked at more closely by the Board of Elections to determine if those votes should be counted in the final result.