WASHINGTON — Two North Carolina Republican members of Congress won their renomination battles on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick glided to victory Tuesday in the 9th congressional district and in November will likely face a man best known for telling President Bush he ought to be ashamed of himself in a confrontation that drew national media attention.
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, whose videos from Baghdad's Green Zone became a big issue, won soundly and will defend his seat in November against a Democratic nominee best-known for heroics in the Navy.
With 93 percent of precincts reporting in the GOP primary, Myrick, a Republican from Charlotte, led challenger Jack Stratton of Gastonia with 92 percent of the vote.
“I always just breathe a sigh of relief just seeing the absentee votes,” said Myrick, a former Charlotte mayor who has represented the 9th congressional district since 1994, with early returns in. “If the numbers hold up and I do win the primary, we look forward to the race in the fall…”
About 67 percent of the Republican voters in the 10th congressional district cast their ballots for McHenry, a lawmaker from Cherryville, over attorney Lance Sigmon of Newton, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
“Decency and civility matter,” McHenry said after declaring victory. “A campaign on issues and ideas is what the voters want. Winning by such a large margin is a statement to issues and results speaking louder than wild accusations.”
In the 9th district Democratic primary, Charlotte real estate broker Harry Taylor was leading semi-retired engineer Ross Overby of Union County. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Taylor had 58 percent and Overby had 42 percent.
“We’re pleased with it right now, and it’s looking really good,” Taylor said.
Taylor gained notoriety in 2006 when he publicly scolded Bush after a speech at Central Piedmont Community College, a rebuke that was repeatedly broadcast nationally.
“I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened, by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency,” Taylor told Bush during an audience question period. “And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself.”
If the past is any judge, Taylor would have an uphill climb in part because only 32 percent of the district’s voters are registered as Democrats. More than 60 percent voted for Bush in both of his elections.
In the 10th, the Republican primary was particularly contentious. His opponent, Lance Sigmon, accused McHenry of putting American lives at risk by posting video online of himself in Baghdad talking about how close enemy fire had come to visiting lawmakers.
In the Democratic primary, Hickory attorney and former sailor Daniel Johnson led retired engineer Steve Ivester, also of Hickory, with 60 percent of the vote and 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Looking to the fall, McHenry said he would show that he reflected the conservative values of his district. On Tuesday, he jabbed at his Democratic opponent Johnson, calling him “the trial lawyer (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi recruited.”
Johnson has said McHenry contributes to the breakdown of the legislative process by being combative in Congress, and he thinks the public is ready for new leadership.
Johnson gained notoriety in 1999 when he ran to help a fellow sailor who got trapped by a dangerous tow line on a Navy ship. They survived, but both were badly injured, and Johnson lost his lower legs in the accident.