Democrat David Hoyle won a narrow victory Tuesday night in a race to keep his N.C. Senate District 43 seat.
Unofficial results showed Hoyle had 51 percent of the vote, or 35,677 votes, to 49 percent, or 33,623, for Republican challenger Kathy Harrington.
A 16-year veteran of the N.C. Senate, Hoyle, 69, is considered one of its most powerful members. Harrington, 49, was a first-time candidate for political office.
In 2002, Hoyle narrowly defeated Harrington's husband, Michael, for the seat. District 43 covers all of Gaston County except for six precincts in the northeast part of the county.
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The hottest issue in this year's contest was the Garden Parkway, a proposed highway running from Charlotte to Gaston County. Two years ago, Hoyle invested in 327 acres near a proposed exit for the expressway. He then cast at least three votes in the General Assembly to advance the road and lobbied colleagues to fund it.
A legislative attorney said Hoyle, who is a developer, didn't violate state ethics laws when he voted for the funding.
But Harrington called Hoyle's action unethical and said it was an example of his poor judgment.
Hoyle said he knew the GOP had made him the No. 1 target. As senior chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hoyle has considerable power and influence.
Hoyle said the campaign was the “worst thing I've ever been through in my life.”
“This proves one thing – that a positive campaign can win,” said Hoyle. “She (Harrington) ran the dirtiest campaign in North Carolina history, and I've been on the receiving end.”
Harrington, who is a Realtor, said Hoyle was ineffective and out of touch with voters.
In the 88th N.C. House District race, Democrat Ray Warren narrowly defeated Republican challenger Mark Hollo.
The result was so close, though, that Hollo can request a recount. He said he'll wait to decide until election officials count provisional ballots later this week. The district includes Hickory and Alexander County.
Both men won 50 percent of votes, Warren edging Hollo by 209 votes, according to unofficial results. Warren had 15,681 votes to Hollo's 15,472.
The opponents spent the campaign season portraying each other as bad for the district. The incumbent, helped by the state Democratic Party, spent more than $200,000 on fliers, TV ads and other methods, while Hollo spent about $120,000.
Two years ago, Warren defeated Hollo to win the seat.