WATAUGA – Watauga County’s Democratic primary voters had the highest percentage of Bernie Sanders voters of any of the 100 counties in North Carolina, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections.
Watauga overwhelmingly voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic U.S. presidential primary on March 3. Sanders unofficially got 46.9 percent of the vote, ahead of Joe Biden, who finished second in Watauga with 23.22 percent.
Biden won 11 of the county’s 20 precincts: Bald Mountain, Beaver Dam, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Blue Ridge, Elk, Laurel Creek, Meat Camp, Shawneehaw, Stony Fork and Watauga.
Sanders won nine of the 20 precincts in Watauga, which included Boone 1, Boone 2, Boone 3, New River I, New River II, New River III, Brushy Fork, Cove Creek and North Fork.
The Watauga results in the Democratic U.S. presidential primary were opposite of the statewide results, as Joe Biden unofficially took first place with 42.99 percent of the vote, ahead of second-place Bernie Sanders who had 24.11 percent.
Sanders won four counties in North Carolina; Watauga, Mitchell, Madison and Buncombe counties. Out of the four, Sanders only received more than 40 percent of the vote in Watauga. Biden won the other 96 counties.
President Donald Trump won the Republican U.S. presidential primary with 93.52 percent of the vote.
The results will be made official on Friday, March 13, as part of the Watauga County canvass. The count will also include at least 464 provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day, according to Watauga Elections Board Director Matt Snyder. Each ballot has to be individually verified by the Watauga County Board of Elections before it can count towards the totals.
As of March 4, 13,654 ballots were counted in Watauga County, equaling 29.98 percent of the total number of registered voters. The Watauga totals were just below the statewide turnout average of 31.07 percent.
The turnout was down from 2016, when Watauga and statewide turnout were 37.56 and 35.69 percent, respectively.
As a result of the unofficial tally for the Democratic primary for N.C. House District 93, Ray Russell will defend his seat in November as he defeated primary challenger Turner Doolittle with 88.19 percent of the vote.
“It was a joy to drive across the district today visiting with voters at the polls. I am honored by the massive show of support today,” Russell said in a March 4 Facebook post. “But today is just a springboard to what will be a big win in November. We are part of a blue wave that will flip control of the N.C. House for the first time in a decade.”
Russell, a Boone Democrat, is in his first term as N.C. House representative. Doolittle, an Appalachian State University student, took 11.81 percent, or 1,300 votes.
Russell will face Blowing Rock Republican Ray Pickett, who was the lone Republican to file in the race, in November.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx appears to have a new Democratic challenger as David Wilson Brown of McAdenville won 68 percent of the vote against Eric Nathan Hughes of Gastonia.
“Thank you to all of our supporters and congrats on the well-fought race to my opponent, Eric Nathan Hughes,” Brown said on his campaign’s Facebook page on March 3.
The race between the eight-term Foxx and Brown will be in the newly redrawn Fifth District of North Carolina, which stretches from Watauga and Ashe counties down to Gaston County.
In other statewide races, Cal Cunningham appears to be the Democratic challenger for the U.S. Senate seat of Thom Tillis, claiming 57 percent of the Democratic primary vote, including 64.35 percent in Watauga County. Tillis took the Republican primary with 78.1 percent of the vote, claiming 76.81 of the Watauga vote.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will likely face a challenge from current Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, as both men took more than 87 percent of the vote in their respective primaries.