Editor's note: This story has been updated from the print edition with election data available after the NT went to press Tuesday night. This article was last updated with results from the NC-09 race Sept. 11 at 10:52 a.m.
BEAUFORT — After weathering a long election season and a hurricane, North Carolina’s 3rd District voters selected Republican Dr. Greg Murphy as their next congressman Tuesday.
The special election is the culmination of a long race that began after the death of longtime Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. in February.
“The ‘We the People Campaign’ was a huge success, but it ended when the polls closed at 7:30 tonight. Tomorrow, I start on the journey to become the ‘We the People Congressman,’” Dr. Murphy said in a release Tuesday night. “This campaign has been about the people, this win was about the people and my service in Congress will always be about the people.”
With 61.74% of the districtwide vote, Dr. Murphy clinched the seat, while Democrat Allen Thomas finished with 37.47%.
Dr. Murphy’s lead was stronger in Carteret County, where he won 67.5% of the vote, or 10,571 ballots.
Results will not be final until canvass day.
The race was one of two in the state Tuesday. In N.C. District 9, in and near Charlotte, voters went to the ballot boxes after election fraud tainted November congressional results there.
In that race, Republican Dan Bishop narrowly won the seat with 50.74% of the vote. His opponent, Dan McCready, took 48.66%.
The 3rd District race resolved relatively quickly Tuesday night, with multiple outlets calling the race for Dr. Murphy around 8:30 p.m., an hour after polls closed.
Also on the ballot for the eastern district race were Constitution Party candidate Greg Holt, who won 0.38% of the overall vote, and Libertarian Tim Harris, who snagged 0.35%.
Dr. Murphy, a state representative and urologist, advanced this spring from a packed field of Republicans to a July runoff from which he emerged the Republican victor. During the campaign, Dr. Murphy touted his plans to support President Donald Trump’s agenda once elected to Congress.
Mr. Thomas, a former mayor of Greenville, ran on a platform focused on a message of economic growth and reaching across party lines.
Neither could be immediately reached for comment.
Early voting in the 3rd District race was interrupted last week as residents prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, which brushed up the East Coast, making landfall Friday at Cape Hatteras.
Several counties closed early voting locations in advance of the storm, including Carteret County, though the one-stop period was set to run through Friday.
Late Friday, the State Board of Elections announced polls would reopen Saturday. Carteret County officials said the extended hours allowed more than 130 voters to cast an early ballot.
Turnout was fairly low, with 31.04% of Carteret County’s roughly 50,500 registered voters casting a ballot.
“Given the fact that we had a hurricane last week, I’m quite pleased,” County Board of Elections Chairman Rick Heal said, as the board and staff inputted the last of Tuesday’s results.
Unlike last year after Hurricane Florence, many residents were able to recover quickly over the weekend and get back to a normal routine, including voting, he said.
It seemed normal Tuesday afternoon, as voters steadily arrived at precinct locations to cast their ballots.
“To me, it’s been busier this race” than the runoff, Morehead No. 1 Chief Judge Tom Outlaw noted. By 1 p.m., 282 residents had voted there.
Other precinct officials also reported a steady stream to the the polls throughout the day.
At Beaufort No. 2, at the Carteret County Schools administration building, officials said their site had been busy.
“It’s been busy at times, we’ve had a line,” Chief Judge Partha Howell noted.
Emerald Isle, meanwhile, had seen more than 600 voters by 4 p.m., according to the BOE, and ended the day with more than 800 voters visiting the polling place, leading Carteret County’s 28 precincts.
“We could have used one more computer and another person,” Chief Judge John Sharp said late Tuesday as he delivered results to the elections office.
Meanwhile, in Greenville at an election party, Dr. Murphy reportedly took a call from President Donald Trump congratulating him on his victory.
“It’s rather humbling,” he told the crowd, according to release.
In a press release Tuesday night, N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin praised Mr. Thomas.
“Allen Thomas ran a strong campaign focused on the issues important to eastern North Carolina families, like strengthening the local economy, protecting our environment and ensuring access to affordable health care,” he said. “Allen has served his community for years and we look forward to him continuing to advocate for the people of eastern North Carolina in the years to come.”
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.