Voters marched to the polls in Bladen County on Tuesday and there were few surprises in the primary election. While some incumbents faced challenges, many overcame them to move on to the November election.
Voter turnout was light for Tuesday’s primary election as 8,309 voters cast their ballots. Bladen County boasts 22,545 registered voters in the county. Of those, a total of 4,166 or 18.48 percent cast absentee and One Stop votes.
One closely watched race, the race for District Attorney for the 13th Prosecutorial District, pitted incumbent Jon David against attorney Ryan Smithwick. The district consists of Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties.
David, with 7,446 votes, defeated Smithwick, who garnered 5,131 votes in all three counties. In Bladen County, David earned 982 votes or 72.85 percent to Smithwick’s 366 votes or 27.15 percent.
David, who does not have a Democratic challenger in November, essentially won re-election to a second term.
Board of Commissioners
In Bladen County, the race for Bladen County commissioner of District 1 produced an upset, as incumbent Democrat Mark Gillespie lost to fellow Democrat Arthur Bullock. Gillespie garnered only 767 votes or 35.46 percent to Bullock’s 1,396 votes or 64.54 percent.
Gillespie said, “I’ve enjoyed the four years I’ve been a commissioner. I’m glad to say I ran a good, clean race. I’ve enjoyed serving the people of Bladen County.”
In the race for county commissioner of District 2, incumbent Charles Ray Peterson defeated Leon Dowless, 1,326 votes to Dowless’ 1,049 votes.
In the race for county commissioner of District 3, incumbent Russell Priest fended off a challenge by Charles Whitted Sr. Priest earned 1,288 votes to Whitted’s 755 votes.
“This will be my last time,” Priest said. “Win or lose it was going to be my last one.”
Board of Education
In the Board of Education races, most incumbents survived their challenges as well.
In the race for the Board of Education countywide seats, the top three vote-getters advance to the November election. Incumbent Vince Rozier garnered 2,593 votes, incumbent Berry Lewis earned 1,514 votes, Tim Benton received 1,282 votes, and Kory Hair received 1,122 votes.
In the race for Board of Education District 1, Gary Rhoda defeated incumbent Glenn McKoy. Rhoda received 1,121 votes to McKoy’s 1,006 votes.
In the race for Board of Education District 2, incumbent Roger Carroll received 1,397 votes to challenger McCrae Dowless’ 954 votes.
— U.S. Senate
In the Democratic primary, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan fended off a challenge from two candidates. She garnered 3,597 votes in Bladen County and went on to win the statewide voting to advance to the Nov. 4 election. She beat Will Stewart, who had 1,531 votes in Bladen County, and Ernest Reeves, who had 957.
In the Republican primary, Thom Tillis was the lone survivor among a field of eight candidates vying for a shot at Hagan’s seat. Tillis took Bladen County with 586 votes and went on to win the statewide vote. His closest challengers in Bladen was Mark Harris, who brought in 327 votes, and Greg Brannon, who attracted 269 votes.
Hagan and Tills will square off Nov. 4.
— U.S. House, District 7
With the retirement of Rep. Mike McIntyre after nine terms in Congress, the wide open seat attracted three Republicans and two Democrats in the primary.
On the Democratic side, Jonathan Barfield Jr. outlasted Walter Martin Jr. by a margin of 3,421 to 2,201 in Bladen County. Barfield also took the district-wide vote.
Republican David Rouzer, who narrowly lost to McIntyre two years ago, won Bladen County with 763 votes and also took the district-wide vote. Woody White was second in Bladen County with 545 votes and Chris Andrade third with 57.