Democrat Hunt extends lead in House race; Brawley asks for recount

Republican Rep. Bill Brawley and Democrat Rachel Hunt
Republican Rep. Bill Brawley and Democrat Rachel Hunt

Democrat Rachel Hunt declared victory Thursday night after she extended her narrow lead over Republican Rep. Bill Brawley, bringing Mecklenburg County’s last undecided legislative race closer to an apparent end.

After meeting Friday to complete its canvass and certify the results, Hunt held a lead of 70 votes in House District 103.

Brawley asked for a recount before the board met, according to Elections Director Michel Dickerson. That recount is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

“The updated election results released by the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections tonight show why it is so important to wait for all votes to be counted,” Hunt’s campaign said in a statement. “We are confident that as the remaining ballots are counted Rachel’s lead will continue to grow.”

Brawley led by 52 votes on election night, but Hunt jumped to the lead when absentee ballots were counted last week. Her lead widened by six votes after election officials counted provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots.

As of Friday, Hunt led Brawley 19,134 to 19,064.

If the results stand, Brawley, who chairs the influential House Finance Committee, would be the county’s fifth Republican lawmaker to fall in this year’s election. His loss would leave GOP Sen. Dan Bishop as the only Republican in the county’s 17-member legislative delegation.

Hunt, a first-time candidate, is the daughter of four-term Gov. Jim Hunt.

The race was one of North Carolina’s most expensive legislative contests. Hunt raised over $1.2 million and got about $900,000 in support from the state Democratic Party. Brawley raised over $410,000.

Hunt’s father, Jim Hunt, gave the party $325,000 this year, according to reports filed with the state board of elections. The state party spent over $16 million on elections.

After the final ballots were counted, Democrat Christy Clark saw her lead grow over Republican Rep. John Bradford. Clark, who led by 333 votes on election night, increased her margin to 415 votes. The total appeared to put the race outside the 1 percent margin for a recount, with Clark leading by 50.52 percent of votes cast vs. 49.48 percent for Bradford.

“Now that all the votes have been counted, I would like to thank John Bradford for his commitment to public service and his work on behalf of this district and the state of North Carolina,” Clark said in a statement.

Brawley and Bradford couldn’t be reached Friday.

Jim Morrill, 703-358-5059; @JimMorrill