Updated Wed., 7:38 a.m.
Voters across North Carolina on Tuesday easily approved a constitutional amendment defining male-female marriages as the only “domestic legal union” allowed in the state. The change, sought by statehouse Republicans, passed by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Meanwhile, Republican races for the 9th Congressional District and 41st state Senate District appeared headed for a July runoff, with no candidates topping 40 percent.
In the Republican primary for the redrawn 9th district Congressional seat, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph (25.3 percent) and former state Sen. Robert Pittenger (32.5 percent) were ahead of the field of 10, but both short of 40 percent, which means they’ll likely have to run head-to-head in a runoff election on July 17. The 9th district boundaries have been redrawn to stretch from Union County to south Iredell, and the district now includes north Mecklenburg.
Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte got the most votes in the Republican primary for the new 41st state Senate seat, with 37.6 percent of the vote, to 36.2 percent for former county GOP chair John Aneralla. They’ll battle in a July 17 runoff as well.
Voters also picked a Democratic challenger for the District 1 county commission seat, and slates of Republicans and Democrats who will square off in the November election for the three at-large county commission seats.
Turnout was 28.4 percent statewide.
In Cornelius precincts, turnout was as follows: 202 (Cornelius Town Hall) 27.6 percent; 208 (Bethel Presbyterian Church) 34.1 percent; 240 (Community in Christ Lutheran Church, Norman Shores), 25.9 percent; and 242 (Jetton Park), 40.5 percent.
In Davidson precinct 206 (Town Hall), it was 34.6 percent, while in Davidson’s Precinct 127 (Hopewell), it was even higher, at 40.2.
Twelve Democrats were seeking three nominations for the at large seats. Kim Michele Ratliff (15.9 percent), Pat Cotham (14.9 percent), and Trevor Fuller (11.6 percent) appeared to have the edge. Marc Gustafson appeared to have come up just short, in a close fourth, with 11.2 percent.
The GOP race for at-large county commissioner, had four people running for three slots. The nominees are Michael Hobbs (31 percent), James Peterson (31 percent), and Wayne Powers (27.9 percent). Angelique Diaz Landry had about 10 percent of the vote.
In District 1, which represents north Mecklenburg, incumbent Commissioner Karen Bentley faced no challenge within her own party. Keith Bradford won the Democratic primary for the right to face her in November, narrowly defeating Leonard Richardson, 51 percent to 49 percent.
In other statehouse races, N.C. House Speaker Thom Tills (R-Cornelius), who represents Cornelius and Davidson, faced no challenge in the 98th district.
Over in the new 92nd state Representative district, Huntersville town commissioner Charles Jeter beat Tom Davis in the Republican primary by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Jeter will face Democrat Robin Bradford in the November election.
Despite an outpouring of opposition in recent weeks, North Carolina voters easily approved an amendment that enshrines opposition to gay marriage and other non-traditional unions in the state constitution. The vote was 61 percent in favor, 39 percent against the amendment.
In Mecklenburg County, it was closer: 54.2 percent for the amendment and 45.8 percent against.
North Carolina’s 1996 “defense of marriage” law already defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. The Republican-controlled legislature, with the help of conservative Democrats, voted last September to put the amendment on Tuesday’s ballot. It adds language to the state constitution defining marriage as being between a man and a woman only.
Opponents of the amendment say it would treat gays and lesbians unfairly by writing discrimination into the state constitution. The also argue it would hurt children and families, domestic partners and anyone in a long-term non-marriage relationship, even if they’re heterosexual.
The amendment had support from a wide range of Republicans, from House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius) to gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory. Opponents ranged from U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to Charlotte corporate leaders, who worry it would hurt business and send jobs out of state.
Here’s the text of the amendment approved Tuesday:
Sec. 6. Marriage. – Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
Mitt Romney handily won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary, capturing 66 percent of the votes. Ron Paul had 11 percent and Rick Santorum 10.4 percent, according to unofficial returns with 95 of 100 precincts in. Newt Gingrich had 7.6 percent.
“No preference” (57 percent) was the top choice among Libertarian voters in that six-way presidential primary. Gary Johnson had 18 percent, while others all polled in the single digits: Roger Gary, R.J. Harris, Carl Person, Bill Still and Lee Wrights.
State board of elections website, with full unofficial results.
Find more information about the primary election and planned runoffs on the county Board of Elections page, MeckBOE.org