Christian Castelli has won the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 6th U.S. Congressional District with 36% of the vote. Lee Haywood — the nominee from the 2020 contest — came in second with 34% of the vote. The two were separated by just 1,049 votes. Castelli will now go on to face Democrat incumbent Rep. Kathy Manning in the general election in November. The Triad-area seat leans Democratic overall. Even with a strong Republican wave year expected, it is still considered a longshot possibility for Republicans. 

“Thank you for your support! I am honored to be the Republican nominee!” Castelli said on his social media after the victory. “I am committed to fighting for the people of North Carolina in Congress. We need leaders in Congress who will cut spending to stop inflation, open the Keystone pipeline to lower gas prices, and stand with law enforcement to keep our streets safe. As your Congressman, I will do just that. I’m ready to win back this seat for the people of North Carolina. Let’s get to work!”

His main opponent, Haywood, had a lot of key endorsements, not only from Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, but also from local law enforcement, including from Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, former Guilford County sheriff and Summerfield Mayor B.J. Barnes, and Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter.

But Castelli had a strong advantage monetarily, having raised $221,537, almost four times more funding than Lee Haywood ($58,578). Neither were able to match the $1,517,055 Manning has raised though, or her 1.2 million on hand. 

Castelli is an Army Special Forces veteran with two Bronze Stars who went on to get a masters degree at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Castelli was then promoted to lieutenant colonel and served as the inspector general for the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, a high-level position at the Pentagon.

After his retirement in 2012, he relocated to Asheboro, North Carolina, where he started two small businesses focused on logistics.

In 2020, Democrat Kathy Manning won the congressional district with 62.3% of the votes. The latest congressional map now has the district with a more more competitive D+5 advantage. This places NC-6 among the three more competitive Democrat-leaning districts, along with NC-1 and NC-14.

“2022 is similarly shaping up to be a red wave election, with the generic congressional ballot favoring Republicans by 10%,” Andy Jackson, director of the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity, told CJ. “There are three Democratic-leaning districts where Republicans could take advantage: the 1st, the 6th, and the 14th. Our analysis found that each of those districts is normally five or six percentage points favorable to Democrats. The 6th has a Democratic incumbent, Kathy Manning, which makes it tougher, but not impossible.”

The deck of Republican candidates for this seat has been shuffled a few times before landing on Castelli and the other Republican contenders. 

Earlier this year, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker was considering running for House in the district. He ultimately ran instead for the U.S. Senate seat Republican primary, which U.S. Rep. Ted Budd won handily.

Bo Hines also considered running in the district but decided ultimately to run in the new 13th District in the southeastern Triangle area. Hines won this Republican primary by leaning on an early endorsement from former President Donald Trump and a lot of outside spending by the Club for Growth,