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North Carolina Picks Primary Winners

Updated: 11:37 p.m. | North Carolina voters went to the polls Tuesday to select candidates in a series of primary elections, but the results may have broader implications. The winners of a number of competitive Republican contests are likely to be elected to Congress this November.

An extreme gerrymander by the GOP-controlled statehouse means Republicans could net as many as four seats from the Tar Heel State this cycle.

Voting ended at 7:30 p.m. and here are some of the top results by district, updated as they come in from the Associated Press. In primaries where no candidate got more than 40 percent, the top two finishers will battle in a runoff on July 17.

Statewide, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and gay civil unions passed overwhelmingly, as expected. The Tar Heel State becomes the 30th one in the union to embrace such a ban, according to the AP.

Updated: 11:22 p.m.

In the 7th district, a seat currently held by Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), Iraq War veteran and former investment banker Ilario Pantano lost a squeaker of a race to state Sen. David Rouzer, who had more establishment backing and more money. Rouzer’s victory means McIntyre, made significantly more vulnerable by redistricting, faces a tough climb this November.

McIntyre would have had an easier time beating Pantano, the 2010 GOP nominee, who was widely seen as an undisciplined candidate. Rouzer, despite suffering from a rather severe charisma deficit, should be able to raise the money and support necessary to run a very serious campaign. Roll Call rates the race as Leans Republican.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Rouzer had 49 percent and Pantano had 44 percent.

Updated: 11:37 p.m.

In the 8th district, where five serious candidates fought for the opportunity to take on vulnerable Rep. Larry Kissell (D), former Capitol Hill aide Richard Hudson and dentist Scott Keadle will battle it out in a runoff.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Hudson led with 32 percent to Keadle’s 22 percent. The powerful pro-free market Club for Growth had spent heavily in the district in support Keadle, but it wasn’t enough to make him the winner outright. The club and its affiliated groups spent more than $300,000 in independent expenditures for Keadle.

But that wasn’t the only third-party money in the race. YG Action Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), spent about $70,000 backing Hudson. Hudson would appear to have a significant edge in the runoff, but if the club puts more money in the race, that could change. Both candidates are considered to be strong enough candidates to unseat Kissell, one of the most vulnerable Democratic Members in the country, in the Republican-tilting district.

In the open 9th district, currently represented by retiring Rep. Sue Myrick (R), a huge field of 11 Republicans vied for nomination. Former state Sen. Robert Pittenger and Myrick-endorsed Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph were the top two finishers and are headed for a runoff.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Pittenger led Pendergraph 32 percent to 25 percent. Given the GOP lean of the district, the winner of the runoff is likely to be 9th’s new Congressman. Pittenger has the edge in the primary, GOP insiders said.

In the 11th district in western North Carolina, currently represented by retiring Rep. Heath Shuler (D), former Shuler chief of staff Hayden Rogers (D), endorsed by the conservative Democratic Blue Dog PAC, easily dispatched two more liberal primary opponents. He’ll face the winner from a GOP runoff between real estate investor Mark Meadows and businessman Vance Patterson in November. Meadows had 38 percent to Patterson’s 24 percent, with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Meadows, a political novice, is considered the prohibitive favorite to win the runoff. If he is the GOP nominee, as expected, he’ll have a significant advantage over Rogers in the 11th, the most Republican district in the state.

In the 13th district, open because of the retirement of Rep. Brad Miller (D), former U.S. Attorney George Holding easily beat Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble (who is not related to the North Carolina Congressman with the same last name). With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Holding had 44 percent to Coble’s 34 percent. Holding spent heavily on the race, and a super PAC supporting him put more than a half-million dollars into the race. Given the safely Republican makeup of the reconfigured district, Holding is almost certain to be the Congressman for this seat.

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