The Race of the House

Battle for Congress could hinge on North Carolina district

The two parties vying for the battleground North Carolina district that Newt Gingrich won in 2010, and where President Obama won in 2012, face each other in this year’s congressional primary, a twist to the political world since the redistricting process began in 2002.

Democrats are trying to win the three seats they need to wrest control of the House from Republicans, although they now have two fewer Democrats to go after than in 2010. Republicans are hoping to capture the three seats they need to seize control of the Senate from Democrats, although they now have one fewer man they can’t. Republicans have also picked up a seat from a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

A primary usually has no effect on the outcome of the general election, but Republican Rob Bradley’s primary defeat of tea party activist Rick Jackson could become a key contest if the results here are a foreshadowing of the general election.

How it works

Bradley’s victory in August was a stunning upset, coming despite the fact that he was backed by his own party (the GOP) and that much of the Republican ballot in the district was composed of Republicans who were supporting Gingrich. He won with 61% of the vote.

Bradley’s victory was not a foregone conclusion. In addition to the Gingrich factor, Bradley’s opponent, Jackson, was the head of a group that sought to unseat Rep. Joe Wilson in the North Carolina district. As a result, the race was never really about which candidate had the best message for voters, and what they would make of the divisive, racially charged issue of race in the 2012 election.

Jackson’s opponent, Democrat Mike McIntyre, lost badly to Bradley, winning just 14% of the vote, although Bradley’s performance did make him the first candidate to win a congressional primary in the state in 18 years. Republicans have now picked up one district from Democrats, and one from a member of the Senate.


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