Candidate for Congress in North Carolina Stops Campaigning a Few Days Before the Primary Vote

Candidate for Congress in North Carolina Stops Campaigning a Few Days Before the Primary Vote

Raleigh, North Carolina  — A candidate for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in North Carolina said Thursday that she is stopping her campaign because former President Donald Trump has endorsed her opponent and they are going to have to run against each other.

Kelly Daughtry, an attorney in Johnston County, came in first place out of 14 candidates in the Republican primary for the 13th Congressional District in central North Carolina on March 5. But Daughtry didn’t get more than 30% of the vote—she only got 27%—so she had to go to a rerun. She and Brad Knott, who came in second with 19% of the vote and was a former federal lawyer, moved on to the runoff on May 14.

Daughtry wrote on social media that since Trump officially backed Knott last month, “it has become clear that a pathway to victory is no longer feasible.”

“I think in the democratic process and value the support of our President,” Daughtry said.

Knott also got the support of Fred Von Canon, who came in third place in the primary race.

“It is now time for me to stop my campaign,” Daughtry said. “I fully support Brad, and I want him to know that I am here to help him, not fight him.”

It’s rare for someone who won the most votes in a primary to end their campaign less than two weeks before an election. To get the overflow, Knott had to ask for it in writing. This change, however, shows how important Trump’s support is in a state he won twice, in 2016 and 2020.

But just because she said that doesn’t mean she’s not running anymore, the State Board of Elections said. She can’t have her name taken off the vote either; it’s too late. Early voting in person for the runoff will last until May 11, and regular postal voting has been going on for weeks.

In his own statement, Knott accepted Daughtry’s backing but warned supporters who thought he was now the clear winner. Daughtry lost her race for a congressional seat to Bo Hines in 2022. She is the daughter of former state legislative leader and governor candidate Leo Daughtry.

Knott said, “Even though Kelly’s campaign is over, this election is still going on.” “I strongly urge my supporters to go to the polls on May 14th.”

If Daughtry wins the second primary but doesn’t want to take the nomination, Pat Gannon, a spokesperson for the state elections board, said by email that the Republicans’ 13th District executive committee would choose a candidate to run in November.

The new seat for the 13th District covers all or parts of eight states. The lines form a circle shape around most of Raleigh, which is the state capital. They go from Lee County, which is to the east and north, to the border with Virginia.

Rep. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat, is serving his first term in the 13th District. Nickel, on the other hand, chose not to run for reelection because he thought that the redistricting done by the North Carolina lawmakers last fall skewed his district too far to the right politically. Reps. Jeff Jackson and Kathy Manning, two other Democrats who were already in office, also didn’t run because they said the tilt toward the GOP made it impossible for them to win in November.

Frank Pierce, a Democrat, will still be running against the winner of the GOP election in the 13th District in the fall. Still, the Democrats’ decision to leave could make a big difference in whether Republicans can keep their narrow majority in the U.S. House in 2025.

At the moment, there are seven Democratic seats and seven Republican places in Congress in North Carolina. But election data shows that the GOP is likely to win at least 10 of the 14 seats because of how the map is set up for this year’s elections.

On May 14, there will also be a runoff for the GOP primary nominations for deputy governor and state auditor. These are statewide races.

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