Republican Robert Pittenger edged out Democrat Jennifer Roberts in the 9th Congressional District race to preserve his partys 60-year hold on the House seat.
Pittenger, who outspent Roberts 6-to-1, captured about 52 percent of the vote to Roberts 45.7 percent. The Associated Press called the race for Pittenger just before 10:30 p.m.
The policies of the past have produced despair, depression and dependency, Pittenger said in a victory speech to about 200 supporters who gathered at the Marriot SouthPark to watch the results. He went on to say he would help return the country to the Judeo-Christian values it was founded on.
My pledge to you, with all the commitment I have, as God enabled me, I will do everything I can to preserve that legacy for future generations.
Roberts called Pittenger to concede the race, but said she was very pleased with how she finished in the conservative-leaning district.
I feel tremendous that we came as close as we did, she said. We know we got crossover votes. We know we got support from all over. I am tremendously happy and honored and humbled by all the support.
Roberts has served as a Mecklenburg County commissioner for eight years. She said her next move is to write thank-you notes to the hundreds of people she said helped her with her campaign.
But longer term, she said she will continue to serve the community in some way.
Im young, energetic, and theres a lot more for me to do, Roberts said. I plan to find some way to continue to serve to the best of my abilities.
Pittenger will take over for U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, who served 18 years. Tuesdays results mark the end of the most expensive U.S. House campaign in the state.
Pittenger previously had been elected to three terms in the state Senate, beginning in 2002. He resigned his seat in May 2008 to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor, which he ultimately lost to Democrat Walter Dalton.
The district includes south, west and north Mecklenburg County, western Union County and half of Iredell County. Forty percent of registered voters are Republicans, and 32 percent are Democrats. Republicans have held the seat since 1952.
Pittenger ran up large margins in Iredell and Union counties, preliminary results showed. Roberts won narrowly in Mecklenburg County.
Thats a difficult district, U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a fellow Democrat, said Tuesday evening. I knew that Jennifer was going to do a lot better than people thought.
Myrick, a former Charlotte mayor, won 69 percent of the vote in 2010.
Pittenger emerged as the Republican candidate after a bitter primary battle that drew 10 entrants. He took 33 percent of the initial vote, and squared off against long-time Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph in a run-off in July.
Pendergraph, a Mecklenburg commissioner, accused Pittenger of being another millionaire politician and of using his 7-to-1 spending advantage in that race to spread lies about him.
Pittenger ran a radio ad calling Pendergraph a human chameleon who claimed to be conservative but acted like a liberal Democrat.
Pittenger ended up taking 53 percent of the vote in the run-off, largely on the strength of returns from Iredell and Union counties.
Roberts jumped into the 9th District race in February, a week after Myrick said she wouldnt pursue another term. She didnt draw a challenger, nor did Libertarian candidate Curtis Campbell.
The sniping from the primary race also carried over into the general election.
Roberts accused Pittenger of being in favor of Medicare cuts, a claim he denied. Former Republican N.C. Gov. Jim Martin recorded automated phone calls saying Democrats were using scare tactics on the issue.
Pittenger said Roberts would be a rubber stamp for a partisan agenda pushed by Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.
The two candidates also split along party lines on a number of policy issues.
Roberts wanted to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts on people making more than $500,000 per year, while Pittenger wanted to extend them all. Pittenger is against abortion, while Roberts doesnt believe the government should be involved in the decision.
Pittenger was in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Roberts said only that changes should be made to both pieces of legislation.
Hes the kind of conservative, good man of integrity that we need to represent us in Congress, supporter Linda Jones of south Charlotte said at Pittengers event Tuesday night.
The two candidates sparred at several debates, but also had significant advertising presences through a combined $3.6 million in spending making it the most expensive congressional race in North Carolina.
Staff writer Elizabeth Arriero contributed.