Elections Teaser

Voters who have not already cast ballots early will head to the polls Tuesday for primary elections to choose their political party’s candidates for local, state and national races in November.

The Republican primary for district attorney in a newly created prosecutorial district that includes Moore and Hoke counties will essentially determine the winner, since no Democrat filed for the post.

In the case of two races for the nonpartisan Board of Education, one of the three candidates in each will be eliminated, with the top two advancing to November.

And voters in the Sheffield Township will decide on referendums that would allow the “off-premises” sale of beer and wine.

Early voting, which began Feb. 13 at the Moore County Agricultural Center on Pinehurst Avenue in Carthage and the Pinehurst Fire Department on Magnolia Road, ended at 3 p.m. Saturday. As of Wednesday, 4,637 voters had cast ballots — 2,337 in Pinehurst and 2,149 in Carthage — according to Elections Director Glenda Clendenin.

The Pinehurst Fire Department, which served as an early voting site in the November 2016 presidential election, offered Sunday hours on Feb. 23 for the first time ever. Clendenin said 170 voters turned out that day.

Of those who have voted early as of Wednesday, 2,874 were Republican, 1,749 were Democrat, and 11 were unaffiliated. Counting mail-in absentee and overseas ballots, 5,114 have voted early — 3,103 Republicans, 1,964 Democrats, and 40 unaffiliated.

Moore County had 68,957 registered voters as of Feb. 1 — 28,314 Republicans, 24,263 unaffiliated, 15,899 Democrats, 434 Libertarians, 15 Green Party and 32 Constitution Party.

Clendenin said early voting has been slower than it was for the primaries in 2016 but that it did pick up during the last week. She said early voting totaled 6,515 for the March primaries four years ago.

Four years ago, the March primary ballots did not include congressional races, which were delayed until June while the General Assembly redrew maps after federal courts declared two districts unconstitutional.

The county was moved from the 2nd District to the 8th District in 2016. Under the latest plan, which is also facing legal challenges, Moore County is split between the 8th and 9th Districts.

That has added to the number of different ballot styles needed for this election.

There are five presidential preference primaries. The county is also in two state House districts: 52 and 78.

All that adds up to 15 ballots: four Republican, three Democrat and two each for the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties, and two for non-partisan only. One nonpartisan ballot includes two school board primaries that every voter will get and another one for the ABC referendum for voters living in the Sheffield Township.

Clendenin said voters will not be required to show a photo ID for this election. A federal judge issued an order Dec. 31 blocking implementation of the state’s new constitutional requirement.

Despite all the different ballot styles, Clendenin said Thursday that early voting has gone smoothly so far. She said the turnout will likely be much higher in November, as it was in the previous three presidential elections.

The primary ballots featured some crowded fields for some races for both Democrats and Republicans. The Democratic ballot includes 15 candidates in the presidential preference primary as well as one for no preference, compared with only three on the Republican side, including President Trump, who faces minimal intra-party opposition. But the Republican race for lieutenant governor, for example, has attracted a field of nine candidates

Closer to home, Republicans have four local primaries on the ballot. Two of those races — district attorney and state House 52nd District — have been heated.

Both Arthur Donadio and Mike Hardin have been aggressively campaigning to prove their conservative credentials to voters in Moore County in running for district attorney. Nearly 73 percent of the county’s electorate is made up of Republican or unaffiliated voters, who can choose to cast a Republican ballot in the primary election.

Hoke County has fewer Republicans than Democrats, and about 38,000 fewer voters overall. With that in mind, the two candidates have been focused on courting voters in Moore County, where they both live.

Donadio currently serves as a senior assistant district attorney in Moore County. Hardin is the chief assistant district attorney for Hoke and Scotland counties.

In the state House race, incumbent Rep. Jamie Boles, who is seeking re-election to a seventh term, is being challenged by current Southern Pines Police Chief Bob Temme. The winner will face Democrat Lowell Simon in the November general election.

The 52nd includes all but the Carthage and DHR precincts, and parts of the Robbins and Westmoore precincts. Those are in the 78th District along with all of Randolph County and represented by Republican Allen McNeill. He faces a challenge by Democrat James Meredith in November.

County Commissioner Louis Gregory, who sailed through his first election season in 2016 unopposed, is facing a Republican primary challenge this year from homebuilder Ron Jackson.

The winner of the March 3 primary will move on to face Democrat Candice Morrison of Pinehurst in the November general election for the District 2 seat. She does not face a primary opponent.

County Commissioner Frank Quis, currently the board chairman, faces no opposition in seeking re-election to a second term for the District 4 seat.

In one judicial race, Steve Bibey and Marissa Curry are running for District Court judge in District 19D.

While there are no Democratic primaries for local offices, those living in the newly redrawn 9th Congressional District can choose from four candidates — Harry Southerland of Raeford, Clayton Brooks III of Laurinburg, Cynthia Wallace of Charlotte, and Marcus Williams of Lumberton — who are seeking to oppose Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop of Charlotte.

Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson will face Democrat Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville in November in the 8th District.

The new state map approved by the General Assembly last year carves out the more populous southern part of the county and moves it into the 9th District. That includes all of the precincts in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen, Pinebluff, Taylortown, West End and Seven Lakes. It splits the Eureka (Whispering Pines) and Eastwood precincts between the two congressional districts.

The Carthage, Cameron, Vass, Bensalem, DHR (Deep River-Ritter-High Falls), Little River, Robbins and Westmoore precincts would remain in the 8th District.

The districts will likely change again as a result of the 2020 Census.

In addition to the partisan contests, all voters in the county — regardless of party affiliation or where they live — can vote in the two nonpartisan school board races. These candidates do not run under political party labels. Incumbent Helena Wallin-Miller and challengers Robert Levy and Crystal Williams are running for the District 2 seat representing Pinehurst, Taylortown, Foxfire and the Seven Lakes area.

Three candidates are also running for the District 5 seat that had been held by the late Bruce Cunningham: John Weaver, who was appointed by the board to fill the seat until the next election, Phillip Holmes and Edward Spence. The district includes Aberdeen, Pinebluff and part of Southern Pines.

The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election in the fall.

The nonpartisan ballot will also include the ABC question for those living in Sheffield Township. Separate referendums permitting the “off-premises” sale of malt beverages and fortified wine were added to the ballot after county commissioners approved a request in October from Shirley Kennedy, longtime owner of Tommy’s Grocery and Service Station in Sheffield.

Polls on Tuesday will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters must go to the voting place in the precinct where they live to cast ballots.

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

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