State Representative Greg Murphy (R – Pitt) easily won a runoff (second primary) for the Republican nomination to replace the late Rep. Walter Jones, getting nearly sixty percent of the vote.
Physician Joan Perry, who faced Murphy in the runoff, was gracious in defeat (Neuse News):
I thank Dr. Murphy for his willingness to run and for what he has done for this state in the past, and what we pray he will continue to do as he represents us, we pray, in Washington in the future.
Perry’s well-wishes for Murphy came after a divisive runoff struggle that became a broader contest between various Republican and conservative factions. Had the results of the runoff bean closer, lingering resentment towards outside group involvement and a belief by Perry’s supporters that she might have won without that involvement may have made rebuilding party unity more difficult.
Murphy had finished first in a seventeen-candidate primary on April 30 but failed to get the thirty percent needed to preclude a runoff. As early voting began, I noted evidence indicating that Murphy’s campaign had an organizational advantage. That advantage helped Murphy get his supporters in Pitt County (were he won over eighty percent of the vote) out to vote and reach out to voters across the sprawling district.
Murphy will face Democratic nominee Allen Thomas in the September 10 general election, along with Libertarian Tim Harris and Constitution Party nominee Greg Holt. Thomas is the former major of Greenville, and the Executive Director of the Global Transpark, an industrial park near Kinston. He weathered attacks over his management of the park during the Democratic primary and comfortably won the Democratic nomination on April 30. Part of that victory came from his willingness to self-finance his campaign. Almost 80% of the $255,390.10 in receipts his campaign reported came in the form of a $200,000 loan from him in March. I noted on May 1 that Thomas “could make things interesting to the extent that he is willing and able to self-finance his general election campaign as well.”
But self-financing is not enough; most self-financed candidates lose. To win in this generally safe Republican district, Thomas must both win over Republican voters and excite the Democratic grassroots. While the divisiveness of the Republican runoff had given Thomas an opening on the first front, getting North Carolina Democrats excited about his campaign is complicated by the 9th Congressional District race, also scheduled for September 10. Dan McCready’s do-over election against Dan Bishop (a Republican the left reviles) will likely take most of the attention, funding, and outside support that Thomas desperately needs for his own campaign. Murphy’s solid win will likely further sap enthusiasm among Democrats for Thomas even as it promotes greater unity among Republicans.
Despite the struggles in the runoff, Murphy will likely win in the general election on September 10.