LAURINBURG — U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger squeaked by in the race for the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 9th congressional race.
But his challenger Mark Harris is asking for a recount in Tuesday’s primary.
“We kind of owe it to the district to do a recount,” Harris’ campaign manager Mark Knoop told the Charlotte Observer. “Sixty-five percent of the district voted against the incumbent. That’s a hell of a number.”
Pittenger won 9,268 votes, or 34.96 percent, of ballots cast in the primary. Harris was just 142 votes behind, with 9,126 votes, and late Tuesday night announced he would be asking for a recount. Todd Johnson earned 8,118 votes.
Candidates in the special primary are not entitled to a runoff, but one can request a recount if the vote margin is within 1 percent of the ballots cast in the race.
Dell Parker, director of Scotland County Board of Elections said the State Board of Elections has yet to make a formal announcement about a recount.
“I’ve gotten lots of phone calls and I have heard it everywhere, but nothing official,” she said.
Johnson was the unofficial winner in five of the district’s eight counties, including Scotland County. According to unofficial results, Johnson received 147 votes in Scotland County; while Harris had 135 votes and Pittinger, with 105 votes, came in last local Republicans.
Pittenger was leading in Mecklenburg County, but last in all of the other counties. Harris was ahead in two counties: Robeson and Cumberland.
GOP voters in the 9th had to decide whether Washington experience was a positive or a negative. Pittenger, who was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014, stressed his membership on the House Financial Services Committee that oversees banks, and his leadership role on a congressional task force focused on fighting terrorism. But his opponents tried to tap into Republican anger at Washington. They said the incumbent congressman was part of a GOP establishment that has not done enough to cut spending, repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood.
Mark Schenck, chairman of Scotland County Republican Party said Pittinger and Harris each had strong support among the GOP voters who cast ballots. He said he plans to get behind the eventual Republican nominee, who will face Democratic newcomer Christian Cano in November.
“We are going to pick up and go from here and support whoever wins,” Schenck said. “We’re looking for a real good turn out in the fall.”
Schenck added that he was disappointed by the low local turnout. Only 768 out of 22,236 registered voters went to the polls in Scotland County.
“It’s just a matter of getting people informed. I would run into people that didn’t even know there was an election.”