After several weeks with little election news, two House primaries are being held today, one in Alabama and one in North Carolina. In both races, the leading candidates failed to reach the necessary vote threshold to avoid a runoff. In Alabama, both State Representative Paul DeMarco and Gary Peters are vying for a seat, while in North Carolina Phil Berger Jr. and Mark Walker are in contention. Both seats are open as both incumbents retired.
In Alabama, both DeMarco and Peters have long histories in politics. DeMarco has been in the state house for the past nine years. Peters is the founder of the conservative think tank Alabama Policy Institute. Running to replace retiring Congressman Spencer Bachus, both men are making last-second pushes for votes. DeMarco came in the heavy favorite after the primary with 32.7 percent to Palmer’s 19.7 percent. While DeMarco seems to have the advantage, Palmer is trying to consolidate support from his primary opponents’ voters.
Still, despite DeMarco's advantage, an independent poll released by Cygnal told a different story:
The poll by the firm Cygnal found DeMarco to have support from 29.3 percent of respondents, and Palmer with support from 59.6 percent – a 30.3 percent difference in Palmer's favor. DeMarco had 19.1 percent "definite" support to Palmer's 46.8 percent "definite."
Despite the large majority for Palmer in the poll, DeMarco waved off the numbers:
"That's a laughable poll," DeMarco campaign manager Rick Journey told AL.com. "If Gary's supporters really believe that poll, they should take the day off and not show up for the runoff. I have always said this would be a close race. We take nothing for granted."
Journey is probably right. While it looks like things are heating up in Alabama, expect a DeMarco victory.
The race to replace long-time Republican Congressman Howard Coble is heating up as well. Both Phil Berger and Mark Walker are throwing punches and not holding back. According to the High Point Enterprise:
An already nasty runoff campaign in the Sixth Congressional District turned more volatile Wednesday when Republican candidate Mark Walker filed an ethics complaint against opponent Phil Berger Jr., including pointed accusations against Berger’s father who’s one of the most powerful men in state government.
Berger’s father is the president pro-tem of the Senate. The article continues:
"It is clear that Phil Berger Sr. has leveraged his position and influence to steer political contributions to the super PAC supporting his son. This is likely a violation of state or federal law,” Walker said during a press conference at the Guilford County Republican Party headquarters.
Berger and Walker have described each other as “desperate," "unsound," and “unfit” on several occasions. The Berger campaign responded to these latest accusations:
Phil Berger Jr. told The High Point Enterprise Wednesday afternoon that Walker’s accusations against his campaign are “ridiculous” and “baseless.” He said that Walker “has no credibility” and is a “fatally flawed candidate who can’t be trusted and is in the last legs of a floundering political career.”
“Mark Walker’s well-documented problems with honesty first became clear as he was exposed for touting his leadership on the Greensboro War Memorial Commission, then downplaying his role when he learned his record was a political liability. Next, Walker’s dishonesty surfaced regarding his campaign website – which he said was created by someone else after he admitted it was his – that called for citizenship for illegals,” the Berger campaign said in a statement.
The jabs back and forth have led to a lot of division among the district's voters. Expect a tight race and a Berger win.
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