Early returns Tuesday evening have incumbent Steve Troxler ahead in the Republican primary for state agriculture commissioner, outpacing a challenger whose main issue was gun rights.
Troxler is seeking a fourth term. The primary winner will face Democrat Walter Smith, a Yadkin County farmer and former U.S. Department of Agriculture employee. Troxler defeated Smith in 2012 with 53 percent of the vote.
Andy Stevens, the Republican who is challenging Troxler, is active in the gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina. That organization protested Troxler’s decision in 2014 to continue to ban concealed guns at the State Fair. Stevens made Second Amendment rights a top issue, and pledged to lift the ban on concealed weapons at the fair.
Stevens ran a low-key race and had only raised about $6,000 by the end of February. Troxler had raised nearly $200,000 by that time.
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Troxler said he wanted another term to build on the department’s successes.
Andy Stevens 30.31%
Steve Troxler (i) 69.69%
379 of 2709 precincts reporting