Forest, McIntyre ahead as NC counties firm count

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Associated Press

Posted on November 17, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 17 at 8:05 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In the race for North Carolina lieutenant governor, Democrat Linda Coleman narrowed considerably Republican Dan Forest's lead Friday as county officials completed final tallies from last week's elections, opening up her option to seek a statewide recount.

With 97 of 100 counties reporting their canvassed totals to the state by Friday evening, Forest had a roughly 6,600-vote lead over Coleman out of more than 4.3 million ballots cast, compared to an 11,000-vote edge late on election night. State law says Coleman can get a recount if the margin falls within 10,000 votes.

In the 7th Congressional District race, meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton declared victory after the canvas in the district's 12 mostly southeastern counties gave him 655 more votes than Republican David Rouzer, according to vote totals from the State Board of Elections.

"I'm honored that the voters of eastern North Carolina have put their trust in me to represent them in Washington," said McIntyre, a conservative eight-term Democrat who was considered a top target by Republicans after redistricting left his home just out of the refigured 7th District.

The margin would still meet the threshold for Rouzer, an outgoing Johnston County state senator, to seek a recount. A spokeswoman for Rouzer's campaign said Friday he would release a statement early next week.

A spokesman for Coleman didn't immediately respond Friday night to a phone call and email seeking comment. Forest campaign manager Hal Weatherman said he would have a statement later.

Coleman, a former House member and state personnel director from Wake County, has threatened lawsuits in part because her legal team says at least 3,000 lawfully registered voters potentially weren't getting their votes counted because their names failed to show up on local voter rolls. Coleman also has talked about challenging the state law that prevents people from registering to vote and casting their ballots on Election Day.

Forest is a first-time candidate and Raleigh architect. Weatherman said earlier this week Coleman is grasping for challenges because she's behind.

Local election officials on Friday morning began their canvasses, a process that involves adding legally cast provisional ballots and other late-arriving mail-in absentee ballots to vote totals and checking numbers for errors before submitting to the state. Officials in Buncombe County in western North Carolina, the largest county that hasn't reported, were still canvassing at almost 10 p.m. Friday, State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett said.

In other close races, Republican Bill Cook of Beaufort County appeared to overtake state Sen. Stan White, D-Dare, according to State Board of Elections data, but Cook's 32-vote lead still meant a recount was likely.

White led on election night by less than 1 percentage point over Cook, an outgoing first-term House member. But Friday's canvass from the district's eight coastal counties reversed the result of 87,454 votes cast, according to the State Board of Elections. White was appointed in early 2011 to fill the seat of the retiring Marc Basnight, D-Dare, who was Senate leader for a record 18 years.

With the White-Cook race pending, unofficial election results show Republicans holding 32 of the state Senate's 50 seats.

In another close race along the coast, Democrat Paul Tine appears to be the winner of a House seat over Republican Mattie Lawson. With the canvass completed, Tine had a 458-vote lead over Lawson, for a margin of 1.12 percent. The margin needed to be at or below 1 percent for the state board to require a recount if Lawson sought one.

If Tine is declared the winner, Democrats would hold 43 seats in the 120-member House.

Trailing candidates in these races have until noon Tuesday to request a recount. The State Board of Elections is slated to consider certifying election results Nov. 27.

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