Career prosecutor Mike Hardin was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary race for District Attorney, receiving 61 percent of the vote in mostly complete but unofficial results from the Moore County Board of Elections.
With no Democratic challenger to fend off in November, Hardin is all but guaranteed to oversee a new prosecutorial district combining Moore and Hoke counties. He currently serves as the chief assistant district attorney for Hoke and Scotland counties.
“I started running this race for the right reasons,” Hardin said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I’ve been a public servant now for 23 years, and I ran because I care about this job, I care about the people that I work with and I care about the victims of crime. For me, it was a natural thing for me to run for this job.”
Hardin easily defeated opponent Arthur Donadio, a senior assistant district attorney for Moore County. Donadio, who announced his candidacy months after Hardin, received only 13 percent of the vote in Hoke County and 36 percent in Moore County.
Both men had campaigned aggressively in recent months to prove their conservative bonafides to voters in Moore County, where only 23 percent of the county’s 68,957 registered voters identify as Democrat.
Hoke County has fewer Republicans than Democrats, and about 38,000 fewer voters overall. With that in mind, the two candidates focused on courting voters in Moore County, where they both live.
Hardin’s campaign outspent Donadio by more than $72,700, according to first-quarter finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections, with Hardin investing heavily in billboards, social media ads and videos touting the candidate as a “Donald Trump conservative.”
Hardin said he’s glad to have the hard-fought campaign behind him.
“Obviously, I’m excited about winning and I’m excited about getting back to work,” he said. “I’m really ready to go back to work.”
A graduate of the University of Akron’s School of Law, Hardin has won guilty verdicts in several jury trials for murder and other felonies. He lives with his wife and son in Southern Pines.
This was Hardin’s second experience running for office. In 2016, he unsuccessfully ran against Tiffany Whitfield for a district court judge seat in Cumberland County.
Hardin said he’s “looking forward to serving this new district of Hoke and Moore counties.”
“I look forward to helping the victims of crime and working with law enforcement to build strong cases,” he said. “I hope to make the people who elected me proud of the person they elected.”
Hardin will succeed Maureen Krueger, who has served as Moore County’s top prosecutor since 2007. Krueger said last March that she planned to seek a fourth term, but she decided to withdraw her bid.
Donadio was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.