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Edwards wins, Balkcom edges Walsh, Johnson, Murray, Edney turn back challengers; Hudson wins judgeship

State Sen. Chuck Edwards defeated U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn in Tuesday's primary election to pull off an epic upset of one of the most high-profile Trump-supporting members of Congress.


In unofficial results with all Henderson County precincts reporting:

  • In the closest race of the night, Jennifer Capps Balkcom defeated former Republican Party Chair Chelsa Walsh to win the Republican nomination for the 117th House District seat that will be vacated by Tim Moffitt, who is running for Senate. Balkcom faces Democrat Michael Greer in the Nov. 8 general election.
  • District Attorney Andrew Murray easily turned back a challenge from Mary Ann Hollocker, who sought to unseat the incumbent chief prosecutor for the second cycle running.
  • Henderson County Commissioner Michael Edney defeated challenger Amy Lynn Holt, the former School Board chair, 53.3 to 46.7 percent, to win a sixth term.
  • State Rep. Jake Johnson of Columbus won 65 percent of the vote to dispatch Rep. David Rogers of Rutherfordton in one of a handful House and Senate seats double-bunked after redistricting.
  •  In the contest for a new Judicial District 29B judgeship, county magistrate Abe Hudson defeated Assistant District Attorney Jason Hayes.

Early on, Edwards surged to a lead over Cawthorn in one of the most closely watched congressional primaries across the nation. In heavy turnout for an off-year election, 10,932 Henderson County voters cast a ballot before Election Day, a 12.6 percent turnout before Election Day dawned. Overall, the turnout was 27.2 percent.

Edwards had 3,897 votes, or 47 percent, while Cawthorn was second with 1,776 votes (21.4 percent). That's not unexpected; even though Henderson is the home county for both candidates, voters here have elected Edwards to the state Senate three times by wide margins while Cawthorn has been battling a string of gaffes, traffic tickets, airport security busts for weapons and other unforced errors that his primary opponents have exploited.

Across the 11th Congressional District Edwards had a much more narrow lead — 39 to 28 percent — with early voting in just 16 out of 275 precincts reporting. Either candidate would avoid a runoff and win the nomination if he got 30 percent of the vote plus one. With 68 of 275 precincts reporting shortly before 9 p.m. Edwards clung to a 36 to 30.3 percent lead over the freshman incumbent.


Early voting

Walsh led Balkcom by just 22 votes, 2,455 to 2,433. Dennis Justice trailed both with 984 votes.

In a battle of double-bunked incumbents, Jake Johnson of Columbus led David Rogers of Rutherfordton 1,279 to 501. With 16 of 27 precincts reporting, Johnson appeared to be pulling away from Rogers, winning 66 percent of the vote to Rogers's 34.

In the only Board of Commissioners ballot, Michael Edney led challenger Amy Lynn Holt, 53 to 46 percent, in his effort to win a sixth term on the board.

Incumbent District Attorney Andrew Murray led challenger Mary Ann Hollocker 63 to 37 percent while Assistant District Attorney Jason Hayes was ahead of magistrate Abe Hudson 52 to 48 percent in Henderson County voting.

In Henderson County, the two front runners for their party's nomination for the U.S. Senate mirrored their success statewide. U.S. Rep. Tedd Budd vanquished former Gov. Pat McCrory for the Republican nomination and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley clinched the Democratic nomination by early evening.