Early returns: Mark Harris leads incumbent U.S. Rep. Pittenger in NC primary | Charlotte Observer

Challenger Mark Harris is leading Rep. Robert Pittenger in the first returns from their Republican primary in the 9th District Tuesday night.

And Dan McCready had a big lead over Christian Cano in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile incumbent Rep. Alma Adams was leading three Democratic challengers in the 12th District primary. Republican Paul Wright of Wayne County led two opponents in the GOP contest.

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The 9th District Republican primary was a rematch of candidates separated by just 134 votes in the 2016 primary.

Though analysts say the district leans Republican, it’s expected to be one of the two most competitive districts in North Carolina this fall. Democrats McCready and Kathy Manning in the 13th District have both outraised GOP incumbents, Pittenger and Rep. Ted Budd.

Pittenger and Harris spent heavily in the 9th District which stretches from southeast Charlotte to Fayetteville.

Pittenger spent more than $1 million through mid-April, according to federal finance reports. Harris spent nearly $500,000. Without a competitive primary, McCready has a war chest that exceeded Pittenger’s by $1 million.

He’s one of nine Democratic challengers with a six-figure fundraising advantage over a GOP incumbent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Only one Democratic challenger in the country had more cash on hand at the end of the 1st quarter.

Both Pittenger and Harris tried to cast themselves as the more loyal supporter of President Donald Trump. Trump won the district by 12 points in 2016.

Ninth congressional district candidate Dan McCready continued to work for votes on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 by reaching out to voters across the region. Jeff Siner

But Democrats compare McCready, a Marine combat veteran, to Conor Lamb, the Democrat who won a special election this year in a Pennsylvania district that had gone for Trump by 20 points. McCready has attempted to steer toward the middle of the road, saying he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Democratic Leader.

Cano, who supports presidential impeachment, tried to push McCready from the left.

Joining the 9th District in the spotlight is North Carolina’s 13th, which stretches from Iredell County to Greensboro.

Like McCready, Manning has outraised Budd and with 1 million on hand through mid-April, had almost twice as much cash on hand. The conservative Club for Growth already has spent over $128,000 on Budd’s behalf.

This week the Washington Post portrayed Pittenger and Budd as Republicans who will have to fight hard to keep their seats in November.

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