North Carolina will serve us a political doubleheader this year, with the 2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election being among its two key races.
The two North Carolina special elections, the 9th District being the other, will not however take place on the same day. NC-03 comes first, with an April 30 primary and a July 9 primary runoff. The general election is scheduled for September 10.
This district became vacant upon the death of longtime Republican congressman Walter Jones. He represented this district since 1995, and was one of the remaining “Class of 1994” Republicans still serving in the House until his passing. Since his initial election in 1994, Jones never had a close general election, taking at least 60 percent of the vote in his subsequent runs.
Read all about the coming race and which party we expect to win.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: The District
North Carolina’s 3rd District is the easternmost in the state. Some famous vacation vistas are included within its boundaries, as the entire Outer Banks region is there, from Corolla to Ocracoke and down to Cape Lookout. The 3rd District also takes in much of the “Inner Banks” and cities such as New Bern, Jacksonville, Elizabeth City, and Washington. It stretches the Atlantic coast from the border with Virginia Beach to the north and just short of Wilmington to the south. Part of Greenville is within its boundaries, however much of it lies in the 1st District.
Jacksonville is home to Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corp base and training facility. As such, there is a large military population in this part of the district.
The Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index (PVI) for North Carolina-03 is R+12. This means the district is 12 points more Republican than the average American district on a federal level.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: Last Time
Jones was re-elected unopposed in 2018. Most of his 13 congressional election wins were comfortable, and it does not get more comfortable than one-hundred percent.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: July 9 Republican Runoff Results
Greg Murphy won the Republican runoff over Joan Perry by nearly a 3-to-2 margin. He will advance to the special general election on September 10 against Allen Thomas (D).
Murphy carried all but five counties in the district, which includes much of coastal North Carolina. His biggest win was in his home base of Pitt County, where Murphy claimed 82 percent of the vote.
Lenoir County came through for Perry with 75 percent, but she won her other four counties by much narrower margins. However, she lost Onslow County (Jacksonville) by only four votes. Meanwhile, she won Pasquotank County by just 17 votes.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: April 30 Primary Results
Allen Thomas won the Democratic primary with a majority vote over five challengers. He will advance to the September general election against an as-yet unknown Republican. Thomas carried 13 out of the 17 counties in the district, while Richard Bew got three and Ike Johnson won Onslow. Dana Outlaw, the mayor of New Bern in Craven County, came in second but lost to Thomas there by about 600 votes.
In a field of 17 Republicans, there are only two left: Greg Murphy and Joan Perry. Murphy finished first but failed to reach the required 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. His first-place finish was due in large part to a massive vote in Pitt County, the area he represents in the North Carolina House of Representatives. In total, he carried four counties within the 3rd District.
His second-place challenger, Joan Perry, won six counties with much smaller vote totals. Her best county by far was Lenoir, her home area. Phil Shepard owes approximately four out of every five votes he received to Onslow County, home to Jacksonville.
Michael Speciale carried two counties, as did Eric Rouse, while Mike Payment and Paul Beaumont took one each.
Greg Murphy won both the election day vote and the early vote, though it was election day voters which saved a runoff for Perry. Murphy netted close to 29 percent of early votes but got just 20 percent of election day votes, while Perry got over 15 percent.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: Candidates
With the filing deadline closed on March 8, we know the field will be very wide. A total of 26 registered candidates are running, including 17 Republicans, six Democrats, two Libertarians, and a Constitution Party candidate. We are not going to name all 26, but among the Republicans currently in elected office are three state representatives (Greg Murphy, Phil Shepard, and Michael Speciale) and three county commissioners (Paul Beaumont, Mike Payment, and Eric Rouse). The Democratic candidates include New Bern’s mayor, Dana Outlaw, and Greenville’s former mayor, Allen Thomas.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: Current Prediction
This is a predicted Republican hold (3* – safe) as of August 7, 2019. This uses our Electionarium no-tossup scale of race ratings from 1* (weak lean) to 4* (very safe).
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: Analysis, August 7, 2019
No change here: the Republicans are in firm control in this seat. Allen Thomas, a former mayor of a large settlement in the district, is about the best Democrats could have done here, but this is not a seat ripe for their picking. Nobody will be paying attention to this race as the one further west outside of Charlotte is much more competitive.
2019 North Carolina 3rd District Special Election: Analysis, March 30, 2019
You can see why so many Republicans jumped into this race. Being as safe a GOP seat as it is, whomever emerges from the primary will have the office as long as they want it, 2022 redistricting aside.
As far as who will get to the GOP runoff (and let’s be honest, there will be one), your guess is as good as ours.