Despite some local opposition, Bo Hines — a 26-year-old political newcomer who was propelled by an endorsement from former President Donald Trump and an influx of PAC money — won the GOP primary on Tuesday in North Carolina’s only swing district in Congress.
The Hines victory was called Tuesday night as he held more than 32% . His second place finisher, DeVan Barbour, finished with nearly 23% of the vote.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, state Sen. Wiley Nickel won handily with nearly 52% of the vote to Sam Searcy’s more than 22%.
North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District includes southern Wake County, all of Johnston County and parts of Harnett and Wayne counties. It sets itself apart from the other districts because it is the only congressional area in North Carolina where voters don’t tend to favor one political party over the other.
But the Republican primary in the 13th District, drew national attention, in part because of Trump’s involvement. Even before he endorsed many of the state’s incumbents, the former president threw his name behind Yale alumnus Hines.
A newcomer to the district
Hines, who played college football at N.C. State University before transferring to Yale to pursue a political career, evoked mixed opinions within the district.
Some Republicans took note of Trump’s support of Hines and threw their own support behind him. Others weren’t as enthusiastic and actively challenged Hines’ candidacy by raising questions about his residency.
Until recently, Hines lived in Winston-Salem. He district shopped until choosing the 13th Congressional District to run in after state lawmakers finalized new congressional maps for the state, adding a 14th District based on census data.
In April, days before Trump returned to the district for a rally, the Johnston County Republican Men’s Organization ran ads in local newspapers addressed to Trump, stating that the group couldn’t support “a candidate from Western N.C. for our congressman,” even though it remained supportive of Trump.
The group’s founder, Linwood Parker, a former mayor of Four Oaks who has been involved in local GOP politics for several years, said he didn’t think Hines would be able to adequately represent Johnston County and its communities, particularly its farmers and small business owners, without having spent any considerable time in the area.
At the time, Hines was in the process of moving from Winston-Salem to Fuquay-Varina in southern Wake County, which falls under the 13th District. (He also subsequently changed the residential address on his voter registration.)
His campaign pointed to the year or so he spent living in Raleigh while attending N.C. State as an example of his ties to the district, but concerns about his lack of time in the area persisted in negative ads from his opponents.
The Democratic primary
Hines will now face off against state Sen. Nickel.
“I’m so grateful to the voters for putting their faith in me,” Nickel said in a news release Tuesday night. “We won this election because we campaigned on a positive message for change, and that message resonated with the voters. North Carolinians want a Congressman focused on delivering for them and protecting their rights.”
Nickel took the stage at the Democrats’ election night party in Raleigh.
“If you’re a voter who’s tired of gridlock and tired of the politics of fear and division, this is the campaign for you,” Nickel said.
Nickel won his election against former state Sen. Searcy and three other Democratic candidates.
Searcy acknowledged defeat in a message on Twitter and asked his supporters to unify behind Nickel to help a Democrat represent the 13th Congressional District.
Both Nickel and Searcy became state senators in 2018 and won re-election in 2020, but Searcy stepped down quickly after and later joined the State Board of Community Colleges.
Like Hines, Nickel lives outside the 13th Congressional District, but just barely and is well-known in the area.
Many Republican candidates
Hines took on several well-known Republicans for the win.
That includes Renee Ellmers, the closest person the district would have to being considered an incumbent.
Though the 13th District is a new area and Ellmers hasn’t represented congress since 2016, she is the only person in the race who has previously served in the U.S. House.
From 2011-2016, Ellmers represented the 2nd Congressional District, but lost her primary to former Rep. George Holding.
Despite having name recognition, Ellmers didn’t put up much of a fight in the race.
Alongside Ellmers was Barbour, who grew up in Johnston County and worked at his family fertilizer, hardware and paint store while creating his own business.
Daughtry is the daughter of Leo Daughtry, a former member of the state House and Senate. Together, the Daughtrys run a family law practice. Like Hines, she was thought to be a front-runner in the race but finished third.
Also in the race was Kent Keirsey, a combat veteran who served in the U.S. Army. He spent 12 months in combat in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star Medal for his leadership. In 2008, he left active duty and attended Stanford University.
Jessica Morel, Chad Slotta and Kevin Wolff also fought for the nomination.