Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd won reelection over Democratic challenger Kathy Manning in the contest for North Carolina’s 13th District, holding off a well-funded opening in a closely watched race.
The district, which runs north of Charlotte through Mooresville and Statesville and east to Greensboro, was widely seen as one of the three most competitive in the state. Manning raised more money than Budd, a first-term congressman.
With early votes reported and all but a handful of precincts counted, Budd held a lead of almost 52 percent to Manning’s 45 percent. Democrats were hoping to flip the 13th District in their attempt to take back control of the U.S. House, and both parties poured millions of dollars into the campaign.
At a watch party in a Bermuda Run barn, Budd was introduced to cheering supporters as “your newly re-elected congressman” at about 11 p.m., and thanked his family and supporters.
“This is NASCAR country, and it is not time to take our foot off the gas,” he said.
Manning told a crowd of supporters gathered in Greensboro that she was proud of what they accomplished.
“We must keep in mind that our effort took this gerrymandered district from a likely Republican win to a toss up in a matter of months,” she said. “People who have never been politically active before got deeply involved, and allowed us to start a conversation.”
Voters and volunteers in Iredell County said they had seen heavy turnout. A volunteer at the War Memorial polling site in Mooresville handing out Democratic literature said a supply of fliers that was supposed to last all day ran out at 11 a.m. At the Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Department, parking spilled into the church lot next door.
“There was a line before 6:30 a.m.,” said Maureen Purcell, wearing a Ted Budd sticker and handing out fliers.
Voters largely said they were motivated by national issues such as President Trump’s performance, the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, and healthcare.
“The Kavanaugh thing, and the insanity and embarrassment of that,” said Steve Paxton, explaining in downtown Mooresville why he decided to vote a straight Republican ticket.
A few miles away, Diane Sheehan was handing out Democratic campaign literature outside the War Memorial building in Mooresville. She was pleased by the steady turnout, as voters jockeyed for parking spaces in the full lot.
“Seeing this many people engaged is giving hope back to me,” she said.
In 2016, Budd won the district with 56 percent of the vote, while Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by more than 9 percentage points.
Tuesday night, Green Party candidate Robert Corriher and Libertarian candidate Tom Bailey together had about 3 percent of votes cast.
In a measure of how close the race was seen as being, Trump visited Charlotte twice to stump for Budd and his fellow Republican candidate, Mark Harris in the 9th District.
The candidates presented voters with sharply different views on many key issues. Budd, a gun store owner from Davie County, has been a reliably conservative voter in Congress, supporting Trump’s tax cut plan, deregulation and plans to repeal Obamacare. He also tried to link Manning to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a reviled figure for many Republicans, though Manning said she would not vote for Pelosi as speaker.
Manning, a Greensboro lawyer and community organizer, ran largely on expanding access to and lowering prices for health care, a popular issue for Democrats this midterm election. She also supported expanded background checks for gun purchases and immigration reform that includes protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, the so-called “Dreamers.”
The race attracted big money on both sides, though Manning outraised Budd. She pulled in $3.6 million to Budd’s $2.1 million, federal campaign finance records show.
Outside groups spent a further $5.6 million, data compiled by the nonpartisan group OpenSecrets.org show. More was spent on Budd’s behalf than Manning’s ($2.8 million vs. $1.8 million). The biggest spenders included the America First Action PAC, which supports candidates who back Trump, and the House Majority PAC, aligned with Pelosi.
US House District 8
- Richard Hudson 55.4%
- Frank McNeill 44.6%
(206 of 206 precincts reporting)
US House District 10
David Wilson Brown 40.65%
- Patrick McHenry 59.35%
(197 of 197 precincts reporting)
US House District 13
- Tom Bailey 1.92%
- Ted Budd 51.8%
- Robert Corriher 0.98%
- Kathy Manning 45.3%
(216 of 220 precincts reporting)