By Jim EllisMay 1, 2019 — Almost 69,000 eastern North Carolina voters cast ballots in the special Republican and Democratic primaries yesterday to choose a successor to the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) who passed away in February.
Since Republicans featured a field of 17 candidates, it appeared obvious that no one would reach the 30 percent threshold necessary to nominate. That proved to be true, and second-place finisher, Joan Perry, confirmed last night that she will petition the NC Board of Elections for a run-off election. Perry, a Kinston area physician in Lenoir County, will face state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), another physician and first-place finisher, in a secondary Republican nomination election to be scheduled for July 9.
The Democrats, on the other hand, chose their nominee last night. Former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas easily captured the party nod garnering just over 50 percent of the vote, 20 percentage points more than he needed. He defeated retired Marine Corps Colonel Richard Bew (25.2 percent), New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw (12.6 percent), and three minor candidates. none of whom reached double-digit support. Thomas now directly advances to the Sept. 10 special general election.
Rep. Murphy took advantage of his Greenville base, the largest population center in the 3rd District that encompasses most of coastal North Carolina, including the Outer Banks region. Dr. Murphy scored 22.5 percent of the vote, or 9,507 votes. Dr. Perry, with support from outside national and state pro-life organizations, drew 15.4 percent translating into 6,515 votes.