State Rep. Greg Murphy will face Joan Perry July 9 in a runoff for the Republican nomination in the 3rd U.S. Congressional District. Former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas won the Democratic nomination outright against five challengers.
The special election, set for Sept. 10, will let voters choose a successor for longtime U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. The Republican died in January.
The second primary features two physicians who survived a 17-candidate primary featuring six elected officials, including two other state lawmakers. Murphy, of Greenville, got 22.5 percent of the vote. Perry, of Kinston, received 15.4 percent. A candidate needed to get at least 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
State Rep. Phil Shepard of Jacksonville was the only other Republican to reach double-digit support, with 12 percent of the vote. Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern finished fourth with 9.5 percent.
The district is considered Republican-leaning. But Jones was an iconoclast, strongly supporting the region’s major military presence while opposing recent overseas interventions by U.S. armed forces. He also decried rising federal deficits and debt, breaking ranks with fellow President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans, voting against tax cuts and increases in the debt limit.
Murphy has touted his ability to pass legislation by working with politicians of both parties. Perry said she will continue seeking support from across the district, backing Trump and fighting Democrats.
Tim Harris defeated Shannon Bray in the Libertarian primary, 75 votes to 57.
The GOP winner, Thomas, and Harris, will face Constitution Party candidate Greg Holt in September.