Indiana and North Carolina primaries

May 6, 2008 12:48:39 PM PDT
Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to pick Democratic opponents for incumbent Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole and decide a stiff primary challenge to the congressman who famously renamed french fries "freedom fries." In North Carolina, Republican Joe McLaughlin was challenging U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, who pushed to bring "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" to the U.S. House cafeteria in a symbolic protest of French opposition to the Iraq war. But Jones later soured on the war, and McLaughlin is hoping to capitalize on growing discontent with the seven-term congressman.

Also in North Carolina, where record Democratic turnout was expected because of the presidential primary, Democratic Lt. Gov Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore were in the home stretch of a $16 million fight to replace Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, who is barred by state law from seeking a third consecutive term.

On the Republican side of the gubernatorial race, state Sen. Fred Smith of Johnston County and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory were among five candidates seeking the nomination. It was expected to be a close finish and Smith and McCrory could end up in a June 24 runoff if neither of them captures at least 40 percent of the vote.

In other races, Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan and Chapel Hill entrepreneur Jim Neal were competing to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who faced token opposition from Republican Pete Di Lauro, a former New York police officer.

And in Durham County, four Democrats were vying to replace former District Attorney Mike Nifong, who resigned last year after being disbarred for his ill-fated prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape. There are no Republicans in the race.

In the Democratic primary for Indiana governor, Indianapolis architect Jim Schellinger and former congresswoman Jill Long Thompson were vying to run against first-term Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels in November.

Daniels had no primary challenger and as of March 31 had four times as much money as Schellinger and Long Thompson combined.

Five of Indiana's nine U.S. House members also faced primaries.

The toughest races were in the 7th District, where new Democratic Rep. Andre Carson faced seven challengers as he sought to retain the seat he won in a March special election, and the 5th District, where longtime Republican Rep. Dan Burton fought to keep the seat he has held for 25 years.

Carson hopes his brief experience in Washington sets him apart from Democratic challengers. He won the race to replace his grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson, who died in December after 11 years in Congress.

The primary winner will likely face state Rep. Jon Elrod - who lost to Carson in the March special election - although Cat Ping and Larry Shouse also sought the Republican nomination.

In the 5th District, emergency room physician John McGoff hopes to unseat Burton, the state's longest-serving congressman, who came under fire last year amid reports that he missed 19 House votes during a trip to California for a charity golf tournament. Burton has said the golf trip was a mistake.

Associated Press Writers Mike Baker in Raleigh and Deanna Martin in Indianapolis contributed to this report.