Congressional races: Sandy Smith defeats Sandy Roberson; Don Davis, Greg Murphy, Barbara Gaskins win big
State Sen. Don Davis easily won the Democratic primary for 1st District congressional seat May 17, while Sandy Smith won a tight race over Sandy Roberson and the GOP field after a heated campaign.
Davis of Snow Hill won with 63 percent of the vote over three other hopefuls in complete but unofficial totals. State Sen. Erica Smith was his closest rival with 31 percent of the vote for the seat vacated by Democrat G.K. Butterfield.
District 1 includes all of Greene County and most of Pitt County, including the communities of Farmville, Fountain and Falkland. A canvass on Friday will finalize the vote.
Republican Sandy Smith, who lost to Butterfield in 2020, won the GOP primary with 31 percent of the vote over Rocky Mount Mayor Roberson, who had 27 percent in a field with six other candidates. Roberson late in the campaign levied a personal attack against Smith that she was unfit for office.
“Nearly $2 million in smear ads against us and we still came out on top. No run-off,” Smith said on Twitter. “I will fight for border security, jobs, cutting the gas tax and fixing our broken Biden economy.”
Smith’s victory spells defeat for Republicans in November, Adam Wood, the campaign manager for Roberson said the day after the primary. “Last night Don Davis won the general election as well.”
Roberson’s campaign went on the attack in early May accusing Smith in the press and in campaign ads of attacking a former spouse with a car and a frying pan, bankruptcy and scams. The camp distributed the “Expose Sandy Smith” file, which they said would be used as an “October surprise” by Democrats.
The day after the election, the Rocky Mount mayor responded late to a request for a statement from the Rocky Mount Telegram.
“It was a hard fought race and I want to thank all of my supporters for their votes,” he said via email. “While I had hoped for a different outcome, I wish the nominee well in November.”
William Gheen, activist and founder of the ALIPAC, a political action committee that opposes illegal immigration, said that Smith’s victory following the vitriol is actually a good sign for the party’s chances in District 1 come November.
“I was on the ground in the 1st,” Gheen said. “We’d never seen anything like what just happened in the 1st. Kevin McCarthy swinging in with $600,000 worth of attack ads on a fellow Republican? It was insane.
“Sandy Smith passed through the trial by fire and had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at her. She’s taking her frying pan to Washington. I love it.”
Davis, who currently represents Pitt and Greene counties in the state Senate, last month won the endorsement of Rep. Butterfield, 75, who did not seek re-election to the office he has held since 2004.
A former Air Force officer and mayor of Snow Hill, Davis said in a statement Tuesday that the election “has been about making sure eastern North Carolina gets our fair share.”
“In the State Senate, I have introduced over 90 pieces of legislation, working with Democrats and Republicans to support our veterans, seniors, and small businesses,” he said. “I have always put eastern North Carolina first.”
Davis declined to comment on the controversy surrounding his November opponent, saying that he is focusing instead on eastern North Carolina.
In the race for the 3rd District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy won over a field of four Republican challengers with 78 percent of the vote.
In the two-way Democratic race for the District 3 nomination, Greenville’s Barbara Gaskins earned 81 percent of the vote over Joe Swartz of Swansboro.
District 3 takes in a portion of southern Pitt County that includes Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.
In a statement on social media, Rep. Murphy, a physician elected in 2019 to replace longtime Rep. Walter Jones Jr., said he is humbled and thankful for the support in the primary.
“As we advance to the general, I look forward to unifying Republicans to defeat the far-left socialist agenda and take back the House,” Murphy wrote. “One down, one to go.”
Gaskins said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she is preparing to launch her “People Over Policies” tour of the district.
“What we’re planning on doing is putting the red and blue technically aside and actually talking to the people, finding out what our issues are so that I can truly represent eastern North Carolina,” she said, criticizing Murphy for his attention to problems at the U.S.-Mexico border. “There are so many people in eastern North Carolina hurting and so many issues right here that we have to focus on.”