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Three questions North Carolina primaries may answer

Redistricting, retirements create GOP openings as one Democrat faces Toss-up race

Two Republicans are vying for the nomination to face Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., in a November race rated a Toss-up.
Two Republicans are vying for the nomination to face Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., in a November race rated a Toss-up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Between redistricting and retirements, North Carolina is set to have at least five new members of Congress next year. Because of how the congressional map is drawn, those new members from the Tar Heel State next year are likely to be Republicans. 

Democratic Reps. Kathy Manning, Wiley Nickel and Jeff Jackson all decided not to run for reelection because their districts were redrawn to favor Republicans. The races for all three seats are now rated Likely Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Jackson is on the ballot running for attorney general, while Nickel said he would run for Senate in 2026. 

Republican Rep. Dan Bishop is also running for state attorney general, opening up the 8th District. Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, a close ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is also retiring. Republicans should easily hold both seats in November. The races to fill those seats are all rated Solid Republican.

A candidate needs to win more than 30 percent of the vote to secure the nomination. If not, the top two vote-getters compete in a May 14 runoff. Below are three questions voters may answer on Tuesday.

Who fills newly drawn red seats?

6th District: Democrats don’t have a candidate running in this district, so whichever Republican wins the primary will be headed to Congress next year. First they must come out on top of a six-way primary. Former Rep. Mark Walker, who lost a Senate primary two years ago, is seeking a comeback to the House. Bo Hines, who lost a close 2022 race to Nickel in the 13th District, is also running here, as is lobbyist Addison McDowell, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Christian Castelli, a retired Green Beret who was the GOP nominee in the 6th District in 2022, is running again. Jay Wagner and Mary Ann Contogiannis round out the field.

Castelli had the most cash on hand for the final two weeks of the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures through Feb. 14. Hines had spent the most, having self-funded 55 percent of his campaign’s $1.1 million in receipts through then and he put $255,000 more of his own money in in recent days. 

Outside groups have also spent more than $2.4 million on the race, mostly aimed at Hines or Walker. The Club for Growth Action, which is supporting Hines, has dropped $995,000 opposing Walker, a former chair of the Republican Study Committee. A group called Awake Carolina has spent $408,000 supporting Walker and another $27,000 opposing Hines. Conservatives for American Excellence, meanwhile, spent $877,000 against Hines. 

13th District: 14 Republicans are vying for the nomination in this district, which wraps around Raleigh. Two candidates, DeVan Barbour and Kelly Daughtry, previously ran for the Republican nomination in the district in 2022, placing second and third, respectively, behind Hines. Daughtry, an attorney, leads the field in fundraising, having loaned her campaign more than $2 million. Another candidate, businessman Fred Von Canon loaned himself $1.9 million. 

A super PAC supporting Brad Knott, a former federal prosecutor, has spent $1.2 million supporting Knott and opposing Daughtry and Von Canon. Knott himself has trailed those two in fundraising, loaning himself $100,000, but that outside spending could be beneficial to boosting his name ID. 

Another outside group, Conservative Voters Alliance, spent $542,000 combined to support Daughtry and oppose Knott and Von Canon. Integrity Leadership Fund, spent $23,000 supporting Matt Shoemaker, a former U.S. intelligence officer. 

Small-business owner Frank Pierce is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. 

14th District: Tim Moore, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, is the front-runner in a three-way Republican primary. Moore succeeded Sen. Thom Tillis as state House speaker in 2015. 

Two outside groups have spent $671,000 supporting Moore. GOPAC Election Fund, which supports state legislators, and Defend American Jobs, a super PAC with ties to the cryptocurrency industry, are supporting Moore. He also has an endorsement from Trump. 

Who steps in to replace Bishop and McHenry?

8th District: Republican Mark Harris, whose 2018 win in the 9th District was never certified after a political operative ran a ballot harvesting scheme and led to the state ordering a new election that Harris did not run in, hopes to finally make it to the House. He and five other Republicans are running to replace Bishop, who is running for state attorney general. The contenders also include state Rep. John Bradford, former congressional aide Chris Maples, farmer and businessman Allan Baucom, realtor and author Leigh Brown and attorney Don Brown (the two Browns are not related). 

An outside group, America Leads Action Inc., has spent $1.8 million and Conservatives for American Excellence spent another $153,000 to oppose Harris, while Defend American Jobs spent $531,000 supporting Bradford. As of Feb. 14, Bradford, who loaned his campaign $1.25 million, had spent the most so far, but Baucom had the most cash on hand for the final weeks with $569,000. 

Democrat Justin Dues is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, but will face an uphill battle to win in November in the district. 

10th District: The race to succeed McHenry, the Financial Services Committee chair and one-time speaker pro tempore, is a five-way contest, but two candidates, Army veteran Pat Harrigan and state Rep. Grey Mills, have received the bulk of the attention. Like in other races, immigration has been a focal point. Mills and his allies have criticized Harrigan, who ran in the then-more Democratic 14th District in 2022, for comments he made during that campaign about giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. 

GOPAC Election Fund, which supports state legislators running for Congress, is backing Mills and spent $1.5 million supporting him and opposing Harrigan. Three groups, including Americans for Prosperity Action Inc., have spent $605,000 supporting Harrigan. 

Ralph Scott is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. 

Who will take on Davis?

1st District: Freshman Democratic Rep. Don Davis will find out Tuesday whether he’ll have a November rematch with Republican Sandy Smith or face a challenge from political newcomer Laurie Buckhout. The 1st District is expected to be the state’s only competitive House race in November, and is rated a Toss-up by Inside Elections.

Buckhout, who has loaned her campaign $1.1 million, has also gotten support from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to House GOP leadership. Smith contributed $457,000 to her campaign and has had outside support from a group called Fed Up Taxpayers Against Wokeness. 

Smith lost to Davis by 5 points in 2022.

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