On Tuesday night, Val Applewhite won the Democrat primary for North Carolina’s 19th state Senate District with 56.3% of the vote. Incumbent state Sen. Kirk deViere came in second with 36.8% of the vote. Applewhite will go on to face Republican Wesley Meredith in the November election.
“The voters have spoken and I fully respect their decision but I am disappointed. I called Val early tonight and offered my congratulations,” says deViere in his concession statement released on Twitter, “I intended to do my best in this upcoming short session to represent the people of my community, as I always have, and continue my work as a Senator. Campaigns too often are about people viewed as winners and losers but when that happens, what gets lost is ideas and values. There is too much at stake in our community, state and nation to let that happen here.”
In a video on her social media after the victory, Applewhite said she “wanted to thank Sen. deViere for all the work he’s done in our community, all the work he’s done in the legislature.” She went on to say that Democrats now needed to unite “because the real race is in November and Democrats are going to win that thing.”
DeViere faced uncertainty during this primary election campaign due to Gov. Cooper’s endorsement of deViere’s opponent, Val Applewhite, on March 8.
Cooper’s endorsement came with a statement saying he preferred Applewhite because, “I need legislators who will help me expand Medicaid” and “a tireless advocate who isn’t afraid to stand up to Right Wing Republicans.”
This statement referenced deViere’s history of sometimes siding with the GOP on issues. DeViere’s moderate voting is something that he takes pride in.
“I have established myself as someone who is respected on both sides of the aisle, a reasonable voice, and one that upholds our democratic values ” said deViere on his campaign site.
Cooper’s successful targeting and removal of a Democratic incumbent was not universally accepted though.
“The governor’s actions are very divisive and frankly selfish to require a state senator to toe the line or else.” retiring Dem Rep. Billy Richardson of Cumberland County, another moderate from the Fayetteville area, told the News & Observer.
In the 2018 state Senate District 19 election, DeViere won with 50.4% of the vote against Republican Wesley Meredith. In 2020, a presidential election year, deViere ran against Meredith again and won with 51.5% of the vote. After redistricting earlier this year, analysts are interested to see how the loss of an incumbency advantage affects the November election and if it gives Wesley Meredith enough of an edge that he can return to the General Assembly.