(Reuters) - U.S. Republican Dan Bishop pulled slightly ahead of Democrat Dan McCready as results rolled in from a special congressional election in North Carolina, with both parties watching to see whether President Donald Trump’s Republican Party could keep its grip on a long-held seat. Republicans won a special election in another district in the state where they had been expected to do so.
Republican Greg Murphy defeated Democrat Allen Thomas for a seat left vacant by longtime Republican Representative Walter Jones’ death in February, the Associated Press said. But all eyes were focused on North Carolina’s sprawling 9th Congressional District, where Bishop had a thin lead over McCready.
With about 66% of the precincts reporting, Bishop led McCready by 50.27% to 49.16%, according to state board of election results. The suburban-rural area in the southeastern part of the state has been represented by Republicans in Congress since the 1960s and voted for Trump by about 12 percentage points in 2016.
A special congressional election was ordered after last year’s voting was tainted by fraud. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew to North Carolina on Monday for last-minute campaigning with Bishop, a 55-year-old state senator who has embraced Trump’s policies and politics. Related CoverageTrump-backed Republican wins special congressional election in North Carolina: AP“You have a Democrat named Dan McCready, and he wants open borders, he wants sanctuary cities, he’s not going to protect your Second Amendment,” Trump told a rally in Fayetteville, referring to the constitutional right to bear arms.
Earlier on Tuesday evening, local Republicans sought an extension of voting hours in one precinct in Union County, a suburban Charlotte county that some analysts say could be a battleground in the race. The State Board of Elections took no action on that request, but later agreed to extend the voting for 25 minutes past the scheduled 7:30 p.
m. EDT closing time in another precinct, in Mecklenburg County. McCready encouraged voters to head for the polls and wrote on Twitter just after they had closed that people should “stay in line! If you were in line by 7:30 pm, election officials must let you vote. This race is gonna come down to just a small number of votes,” he wrote.
A Republican victory would help the party launch a comeback effort to wrest the House of Representatives away from Democrats after losing 40 seats and overall control in House elections last year.
Dan Bishop, Republican candidate in the special election for North Carolinas 9th Congressional District, speaks to the media at an election day campaign stop, in Indian Trail, North Carolina, U.
.S., September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan DrakeA Democratic win would send hopes soaring that 2018 was not necessarily their high-water mark as they aim to lure more voters away from Trump and his fellow Republicans in 2020 elections.....