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This story originally appeared here and is published on Carolina Public Press through a content-sharing agreement with The Charlotte Observer.
By Fred Clasen-Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservative U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry appeared headed to a landslide win Tuesday and will now likely face a November challenger from one of the state’s most liberal enclaves.
About 73 percent of Republican voters in the 10th Congressional district supported McHenry, who was beating Ken Fortenberry, a Lincoln County businessman, and Don Peterson of Cramerton with four of seven counties reporting. Fortenberry had 19 percent of the vote and Peterson 8 percent.
In the Democratic primary, state Rep. Patsy Keever of Asheville led convincingly with 58 percent of the vote over Asheville Mayor Terry Michelle Bellamy and Timothy Murphy of Rutherfordton. Some 26 percent of Democratic voters had cast ballots for Bellamy and 15 percent for Murphy.
The results pit one of Washington’s most conservative lawmakers against a candidate from arguably North Carolina’s most liberal city.
McHenry wasted no time drawing distinctions between himself and Keever. “We have two clearly contrasting visions of America,” he said in a statement released by his campaign. “This election will represent a choice on taxes, repealing Obamacare, and job creation. I’m glad to have the opportunity to debate those issues with Rep. Keever.”
McHenry, a Gaston County native, is a favorite of conservative anti-tax and family values voters. He famously founded NotHillary.com in 2000 to oppose Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for a U.S. Senate seat.
To pull Democratic votes from the 11th District, the GOP-controlled legislature added Asheville to the 10th district, which stretches from the Catawba River to Asheville and includes Lincoln County and most of Catawba County. But adding Asheville could make the general election more challenging for McHenry, said Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University.