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Recount begins for contested state House seat

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(The Center Square) – Three North Carolina county boards said no to formal protests from state Rep. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, and his next option is a recount.

The narrow defeat – 35 votes of 11,939 counted – in District 27 would deny him an 11th term if it holds. The recount process is expected to begin immediately. Rodney Pierce, a schoolteacher from Roanoke Rapids, is the unofficial winner and with no Republican on the November ballot is awaiting confirmation to punch his ticket to the Statehouse.

Gaston’s Wray was first elected in the 2004 election.

Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, respective election boards in Warren, Northampton and Gaston counties met. Pierce, since the March 5 Democratic primary, and his supporters have repeatedly called for Wray to concede defeat and not use the lawful processes available.

Just prior to last week’s canvass, Wray said in a statement, “We appreciate the county boards of elections looking at the questions we have raised. We are not challenging any votes that were cast and counted. We are simply asking the county boards to ensure that they did not improperly reject any ballots. Our campaign has never asked for rules to be changed and we are following the procedure set forth in North Carolina law. We simply want to ensure that all valid ballots are counted.”

Election denials and bristling rebuttals by unofficial winners are not uncommon on either side of aisle. Local challenges don’t get the attention like those nationally, such as the critics and mainstream media haranguing former Republican President Donald Trump for questioning the 2020 election in multiple states. Four years earlier, it was Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton doing the same thing her party did in losses from 2000 and 2004.

According to the state Board of Elections website, there are recount requests by Wray in all three counties, plus by other candidates twice in the counties of Rockingham, Northampton, Cumberland, Duplin and Person for a total of 10.

In response to where the situation stood through Tuesday, Pierce was confident he’s remained ahead, and Wray was disappointed but moving forward to the recount’s result.

Other House members to lose were Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, and Rep. Kevin Crutchfield, R-Cabarrus. Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, was the lone victim in his chamber.

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