Council of State: Morrow poised to upset Superintendent Truitt



(The Center Square) – Five changes were already coming to North Carolina’s 10-member Cabinet, and challenger Michele Morrow is on the way to another Tuesday with the state’s biggest primary upset.

Painting herself as more conservative, Morrow is poised to defeat incumbent Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt in unofficial returns. It would mark the only loss by a Cabinet incumbent as voters this year choose who is in the Council of State alongside the governor.

The other offices are lieutenant governor, attorney general, commissioners of agriculture and insurance, secretaries of state and labor, auditor and treasurer.

In unofficial vote totals with more than 77% of the precincts reporting, Morrow leads Truitt 52.1%-47.9%. The Democrats’ primary was won by Mo Green (66.2%) over Katie Eddings (24.7%) and Kenon Crumble (9%).

Elsewhere, two congressman are set for an expected fall showdown in the attorney general’s race. U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson won the primary for Democrats, collecting 54.7% of the votes. Trailing by a distant margin were Satana Deberry (32.9%) and Tim Dunn (12.3%).

Jackson faces U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, who had no Republican challenger and is among the most outspoken of the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives.

The threshold to clear and avoid a runoff, or second primary in 10 weeks on May 14, is 30% plus one vote. Two Council of State primaries could have them – Republican lieutenant governor and Republican auditor.

All terms are four years.

Lieutenant governor: Rachel Hunt, daughter of former two-time four-term Gov. Jim Hunt, won the primary for Democrats. Hunt (70.1%) bested Ben Clark (16.7%) and Mark H. Robinson (13.2%), the latter from Sampson County and not to be confused with the state’s lieutenant governor.

Republicans were bunched, with Hal Weatherman (19.7%) in front of Jim O’Neill (16.1%), Deanna Ballard (14.6%), Seth Woodall (10.9%), Sam Page (10.4%), Jeffrey Elmore (8.9%), Allen Mashburn (8.9%), Peter Boykin (3.4%), Rivera Douthit (2.5%), Ernest Reeves (2.5%) and Marlenis Hernandez Novoa (2.2%).

Libertarian Dee Watson is on the November ballot.

• Agriculture commissioner: Steve Troxler, the incumbent since first winning in November 2004, easily denied Colby Hammonds 68.9%-31.1% in the Republican primary. Democrat Sarah Taber and Libertarian Sean Haugh await in the fall.

• Insurance commissioner: The closely watched Republican primary was won by incumbent Mike Causey with 59.8% of the votes. Challengers Andrew Marcus and Robert Brawley received 22.1% and 18.1%, respectively. In the Democrats’ primary, Natasha Marcus defeated David Wheeler 77.5%-22.6%.

• Secretary of state: The Republican primary was won by Chad Brown (44.1%) over Christine Villaverde (29.2%) and Jesse Thomas (26.7%). In November, Brown challenges incumbent Democrat Elaine Marshall, who didn’t face a primary and has been the face of the office since 1996. She’s vying for her eighth term alongside a sixth different governor.

Secretary of labor: A close Republican primary was won by Luke Farley (36.6%) over state Rep. Jon Hardister (27.6%), Chuck Stanley (22.1%) and Travis Wilson (13.8%).

Democrat Braxton Winston awaits in the general election.

Auditor: Leading a competitive Republican field with thousands of votes possible to go was Jack Clark (23.5%) followed by Dave Boliek (21.6%), Charles Dingee (18.3%), Jeff Tarte (15.2%), Tony Street (11.4%) and Jim Kee (9.9%).

Democrat Jessica Holmes, appointed in December upon the exit of Beth Wood, and Libertarian Bob Drach did not have primaries and await in November.

• Treasurer: Republicans had the tighter primary, with Brad Briner (39.6%) leading Rachel Johnson (35%) and A.J. Daoud (25.5%). In the Democrats’ primary, Wesley Harris (67.3%) defeated Gabe Esparza (32.7%).

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