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Originally published: 2014-04-19 13:49:35
Last modified: 2014-04-19 13:50:20

U.S. Senate, House candidates crowd ballot

by Anna Oakes

The Democratic, Republican and Libertarian primary election ballots given to Watauga County voters will be crowded with candidates vying for offices in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Citizens have a bevy of choices in the race for Democrat Kay Hagan's U.S. Senate seat, with the incumbent and 12 other candidates seeking election to the office. Hagan, elected to her first term in 2008, heads into the May 6 primary with negative approval numbers; 41 percent of voters approve of the job she's doing compared with 48 percent who disapprove, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted earlier this month.

Hagan faces Democratic challenges from Will Stewart, an information technology professional from Hampstead, and Ernest T. Reeves, a retired Army captain from Greenville.

Eight Republicans want the seat, too, including N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius; Mark Harris, an Appalachian State University graduate and Baptist minister of Raleigh; Greg Brannon, an obstetrician and gynecologist from Raleigh; Jim Snyder, a Lexington attorney; Edward Kryn, a retired physician from Clayton; Heather Grant, a Wilkesboro nurse; Alex Bradshaw, a researcher and open source developer from Icard; and Ted Alexander, a former mayor of Shelby with experience in historic preservation and economic development.

The Republican contest could result in a runoff if no candidate receives at least 40 percent of the vote. If no candidate secures that portion of the vote, the second-place finisher could call for the runoff, which would be held in June or July.

Libertarians Sean Haugh, a Durham businessman, and Tim D'Annunzio, a Raeford business owner, are also running for the Senate seat.

In the race for the Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House, Republican Virginia Foxx of Watauga County will seek her sixth term in Washington. Republican Philip Doyle, a Clemmons real estate agent, will challenge her in the primary.

Four Democrats will compete for the chance to unseat Foxx, including software developer Josh Brannon of Vilas.

Air Force veteran and retired U.S. inspector general auditor in charge Gardenia Henley of Winston-Salem, Wilkesboro teacher Michael W. Holleman and Will Stinson of Booneville, a crop production manager, will also run for the Fifth District seat in the Democratic primary.

The races for Watauga County's representatives in the state General Assembly will be quiet during the primary, as only one candidate from the Republican and Democratic parties filed to run for both the N.C. Senate and House seats.

The voter registration deadline for the primary election was Friday, April 11. As a result of voting law changes enacted last year, same-day voter registration during the early voting period is no longer an option.