Michael Wray, D-Northampton, announced Monday that he is ending his decades of service in the state legislature after being defeated by primary opponent Rodney Pierce from his party’s progressive left wing. A Democrat who occasionally voted with the Republican majority, Wray drew heat from party leadership and activists who supported his ouster. Wray ended his appeal for a recount of the primary in which he lost by fewer than 35 votes.

Wray’s initial challenge alleged that seven voters were given incorrect ballots, four provisional ballots were erroneously not counted by election officials, one ballot was wrongly rejected, and one ballot may not have been tabulated. 

Last week Wray’s home county of Northampton dismissed Wray’s appeal, as did two other counties he represents, Halifax and Warren counties. The announcement comes as the North Carolina State Board of Elections prepares to officially certify the results of the March 5 primary on Tuesday morning.

“I have served the citizens of House District 27 for 20 years,” Wray wrote in a statement. “I have done my best to represent their interests.”

Wray’s defeat was one of two for moderate Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly. Durham Sen. Mike Woodard lost his primary to challenger Sophia Chitlik, who is originally from California and worked for the Obama campaign as a field organizer. She was later appointed by the Obama White House to the federal Department of Labor. Woodard was endorsed by heavy-hitters in the Democrat ecosystem, but came up with 42% of the vote to Chitlik’s 57%. On the campaign trail through Durham she criticized the three-term senator for voting to override three of Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.

Another moderate Democrat targeted by the party’s progressive wing was Cecil Brockman, but he squeezed out a victory in his primary, 50% to 49%.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections will meet virtually to review the county canvass and to approve an early voting plan for the May 14, 2024 runoffs elections. That meeting can be viewed here.