Politics & Government

Strength of Tea Party to be tested in Charlotte runoff

Republican Tim D'Annunzio Wednesday called his 8th District runoff with Harold Johnson "an opportunity to contrast the candidates." And it didn't take long for the contrasts to begin.

They came from the candidates themselves, from a pair of former rivals and even from the national Republican Party.

D'Annunzio, a Raeford businessman, won 37 percent of the vote Tuesday after spending $1million of his own money. Johnson, a retired longtime Charlotte sportscaster, finished with 33 percent, fewer than 1,000 votes behind.

"I'm going to challenge him at every opportunity," said D'Annunzio, 52. "Let's debate. He's the guy who's got 30 years on TV. He should be challenging me."

Johnson, 68, said he'll consider that as he continues "selling ourselves and the message."

In the district that stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville, the two face off in a June 22 runoff that could test the strength of tea party voters pushing for major change in Washington. The winner faces Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell in November.

More so than in most elections, the runoff will be decided by who gets supporters to the polls. Fewer than 2 percent of voters turned out for North Carolina's most recent June runoff, a 2008 race for state Labor commissioner.

Read the complete story at charlotteobserver.com