CORNELIUS – Attendees of an election party for John Bradford cheered as primary numbers for N.C. House District 98 rolled in, but Bradford remained reserved until the last votes were counted.
Vying against fellow Cornelius resident Lynette Rinker and Sharon Hudson, of Huntersville, in one of the most contentious races this election cycle, Bradford wanted to be sure. Unofficial election results show Bradford earned 59 percent of the vote to Rinker’s nearly 27 percent and Hudson’s 14 percent.
“I think what it shows is District 98 really responded well to a positive message with an election of our own record and merit,” Bradford said.
Bradford, a Cornelius commissioner, was up against Rinker, a former Cornelius mayor, and admitted he didn’t expect the competition to be quite as heated as it was. The campaign included negative mailers about Bradford, plus a record-setting fundraising amount by Bradford.
Though Bradford said that they could celebrate election night, the next day they needed to look on to November.
“We need to work to reunite the Republican Party,” he said. “Everyone has to check their egos at the door. We need to get together and push in the same direction. We may not agree on everything, but we are Republicans and there are undecided independents and Democrats that need to get on board with us.”
In a phone interview, Rinker said she wished Bradford all of the best and offered her "heartiest congratulations” as she looks on for new opportunities. To her supporters, Rinker said, “Thank you for everything you have done, your confidence in me and your faith in me in this election and in prior elections.”
Shortly after Bradford was declared the victor, challenger Natasha Marcus, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the primaries, issued her own statement calling the result “predictable.”
“Despite the hard-fought campaigns of two women who sought to upset the will of the Raleigh political machine, the hand-picked candidate of insiders and special interests has prevailed,” she wrote, later adding “Mr. Bradford is running to protect the status quo of a broken system. I am running to help clean up the mess in Raleigh, restore balance and moderation to state government, and fight for public schools, working families and small businesses, all of whom have been hurt by the failed policies of recent years.”
The pair will campaign for Thom Tillis’ seat to represent most of Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius and the northern part of Charlotte.
Tillis, formerly of Cornelius and now a Huntersville resident, also had a good night, celebrating a win as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. He beat out his seven other opponents with nearly 46 percent of the statewide vote. His closest opponent was Greg Brannon, garnering 27 percent.
In his statement, Tillis continued his charge against Democratic challenger and incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, who won her primary with 77 percent of the state vote.
“Senator Hagan has supported President (Barack) Obama’s failed agenda every step of the way, and her liberal voting record is simply out of touch with North Carolina,” he wrote. “Unlike Senator Hagan, I will work across party lines to pass an agenda focused on generating growth and opportunities for middle-class families and small businesses, just as I've done here in North Carolina.”
Joining the pair on the ballot is Libertarian Sean Haugh.
Statewide, 15.7 percent of registered voters went to the polls either through early voting or on primary election day. In Mecklenburg County, that number dropped to 9.6 percent.
Vilma D. Leake won for the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioner District 2 Democratic seat. The top three Democratic candidates for the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners At-Large positions were Ella B. Scarborough, Patricia “Pat” Cotham and Trevor Fuller. Martha Efird, of Huntersville, will represent Republicans for Clerk of Superior Court.
Meeting each other on the November ballot for the sheriff’s race are Huntersville Republican Chris Hailey and Democrat Irwin Carmichael.
Other statewide winners of the night were Republican Robert Pittenger for U.S House of Representatives District 9, Republican Robert “Bob” Rucho for N.C. Senate District 39 and Democrat Joyce Waddell for N.C. Senate District 40.
U.S House of Representatives District 12 Republican primary winner Vince Coakley will face U.S. House District 12 Democratic primary winner Alma Adams. Robin Hudson will go on for Supreme Court Associate Justice.
Challenger John A. Fraley edged out nearby N.C. Representative of District 95 Robert Brawley, of Mooresville, with nearly 51 percent to Brawley’s 49 percent.