GOP claims victory in both NC special congressional elections

President Donald Trump stands behind congressional candidate Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Meck) at a rally in Fayetteville on Monday. (David Guy | North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Meck.) is now Congressman-elect after defeating Democrat Dan McCready in the special election in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district. Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) cruised to victory in the race to succeed Rep. Walter Jones in the 3rd district.

Murphy’s win was never in doubt with pollsters calling the race before precincts reported in the eastern N.C. district. President Donald Trump tweeted out his congratulations to Murphy shortly after all of the precincts reported.

Bishop’s victory was hard-fought for the GOP who brought in Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a last-day push with a rally in Fayetteville on Monday.

N.C. GOP Chairman Michael Whatley claimed victory in the ninth before the last vote was entered in Mecklenburg. “Congratulations to Dan Bishop on his impressive victory,” said Whatley in a release. “The people of the 9th Congressional District sent a resounding message that they prefer a representative who will stand with President Trump and fight for their values in Congress.”

SOURCE: N.C. Board of Elections

Along with Murphy’s victory, Republicans pared the Democratic majority in the House to 235-199, plus one independent. That means to win control of the chamber in 2020, Republicans will need to gain 19 seats.

The Republican National Committee was also quick to tout the two victories in N.C. “Congratulations to Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop on their victories in today’s special elections,” said RNC Spokesperson Kevin Knoth. “President Donald Trump’s strong leadership, record-breaking economy and his vision for the country is clearly resonating with North Carolina voters while the socialist, open border policies espoused by Democrats was soundly rejected tonight and they will be again in 2020.”

The races were seen as a measure of popularity for Trump, who had campaigned for both candidates but hardest for Bishop. After Whatley’s statement was released, Trump tweeted that Bishop “ran a great race” while also saying that he helped Bishop change his strategy to win.

Bishop didn’t run in last year’s election, which was scrapped after allegations of ballot tampering by a Republican political consultant.

Bishop bound himself tightly to Trump, backing his proposed border wall with Mexico and accusing Trump critics of being intent on “destroying him.” In a TV spot airing Election Day, he said his opponent is “backed by radicals” as the screen flashed the faces of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders and outspoken liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

One of the keys to Bishop’s win appears to be his strength in Robeson County in southeastern N.C. In the 2018 election, McCready carried Robeson with 56.4% of the vote and almost 5,000 more votes than Mark Harris. This time McCready held only 50.32% of the vote and picked up just 231 votes over Bishop. Conservative stronghold Union County also delivered votes to Bishop’s margin as Bishop carried 59.95% of the voters in Union compared to Harris’ 59.12% in his 2018 match up with McCready.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.