AP Decision Notes: What to expect in North Carolina’s US House primary runoff

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Carolina's lone congressional runoff, in the state's 13th Congressional District, became a one-person race when former President Donald Trump endorsed Brad Knott this month, leading his opponent to suspend her campaign.

Congressional candidate Kelly Daughtry will remain on the ballot because her withdrawal took place too late. She received the most votes in the state’s March 5 primary but failed to win the nomination outright.

Early in-person voting and mail-in voting started before she withdrew.

The runoff in the 13th District will take place alongside two other runoffs for statewide positions, those of lieutenant governor and state auditor.

In a statement announcing the suspension of her campaign, Daughtry endorsed Knott, a former federal prosecutor.

North Carolina Republicans passed a new congressional map last fall that creates 10 reliably Republican seats, an increase of three from the previous map. Tuesday’s runoff in the state’s 13th Congressional District will determine the third and final Republican nominee for these likely flips.

The 13th District, which is just south of Raleigh, was redrawn to exclude a populous portion of Wake County that helped elect Democrat Wiley Nickel in 2022. The new district, which now includes some or all of eight counties, is much more friendly to Republican candidates. (Had these lines been in place in 2020, former President Donald Trump would have won this district by 17 percentage points; under the previous lines, the district went to President Joe Biden by a 2-point margin.)

Nickel announced in December he wouldn’t seek reelection, and 14 Republican candidates jumped into the race. No clear victor emerged from the crowded primary that followed. In the statewide primary on March 5, no candidate received at least 30% of the vote — the threshold that would eliminate the prospect of a runoff — and Knott, the second-place candidate, formally sought a runoff.

The Republican nominee will face Democrat Frank Pierce, a business owner, in the general election.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:


The Republican primary runoff elections in North Carolina will be held Tuesday. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET.


The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Republican primary runoff elections for the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, lieutenant governor and state auditor.

The two candidates for the 13th District who advanced from the March 5 primary are Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott. Daughtry suspended her campaign on May 2 but will still appear on the ballot.


Voters who participated in the Republican primary on March 5 may vote in the primary runoff on Tuesday. To vote in the 13th Congressional District, a voter must live in the district. Unaffiliated registered voters who did not cast a ballot on March 5 may also choose to vote in the primary runoff. Unaffiliated voters who voted another party’s ballot – for example, a nonpartisan, Democratic or Libertarian ballot -- in the first primary would be ineligible to participate.


Runoffs tend to be lower-turnout affairs than the elections that prompted them. Low turnout, particularly in smaller jurisdictions, could slow the race-calling.

The lieutenant governor's runoff, between Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill and political strategist Hal Weatherman, is perhaps the most impactful race on the ballot Tuesday. The office is widely seen as a stepping stone for higher office. (Current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is the 2024 GOP nominee for governor.)

Weatherman and O'Neill advanced first and second, respectively, out of an 11-candidate field. Weatherman finished with 19.6% of the statewide vote, driven by his strong performances in the eastern central counties. O'Neill got 15.8% of the vote. O'Neill did best in his home county of Forsyth, the fourth-biggest county in the state, and the surrounding areas. Three other candidates also received at least 10% of the vote.

The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Rachel Hunt in November.

In the race for Congress, Daughtry advanced out of the March 5 primary ahead of Knott by more than 7,000 votes, receiving 27.4% of the vote to Knott’s 18.7%.

Though his opponent has withdrawn, Knott is still encouraging his supporters to turn out to vote.

Should Daughtry win the second primary but not accept the nomination, the Republicans’ 13th District executive committee would appoint a candidate to appear on the November ballot, state elections board spokesperson Pat Gannon told the AP.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.


As of March 5, there were 7,459,529 registered voters in North Carolina. Of those, 32% were Democrats and 30% were Republicans. Overall turnout was 24% in the March primaries.

There were 474,998 registered voters in the 13th District. Of those, 28% were Democrats and 34% were Republicans. About 33% of votes in the 13th District's March primary were cast before Election Day.


In the 13th District’s Republican primary in March, the AP first reported results at 7:39 p.m. ET, or nine minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 11:28 p.m. ET with about 99% of total votes counted.


As of Tuesday, there will be 175 days until the November general election.