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U.S. Rep. George Holding, a Republican, appeared to have held off Democratic challenger Linda Coleman in a tight race for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District Tuesday night.
At 10:53 p.m. with 89.10 percent of the vote counted, Holding had 124,194, or 50.14 percent, to Coleman’s 117,189, or 47.31 percent.
Libertarian candidate Jeff Matemu was a distant third with 6,308, or 2.55 percent of the vote.
Coleman had a lead from the get-go thanks to an advantage in early votes, but as the evening wore on, Holding kept inching closer.
At 9:41 p.m., with 58 of 156 precincts reporting, it was 104.131, or 48.88 percent Holding to take the lead and Coleman at 103,889, or 48.77 percent.
The gap continued to widen in the next hour, but as of press time, only nine of 70 precincts in Wake County, a Coleman stronghold, had been counted, leaving the possibility that the challenger could make a comeback to overtake Holding.
Holding had substantial leads in Wilson, Johnston and Harnett counties. The incumbent had a slight leads in Nash and Franklin counties. Coleman had a commanding lead in Wake County.
In early voting, Coleman had 89,738 votes to Holding’s 78,849, with Matemu pulling in 3,694 votes.
Holding, a former U.S. attorney, has served as representative in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District and has represented the 2nd Congressional District since Jan. 3, 2017.
Coleman is a former Wake County commissioner who served three terms in the N.C. General Assembly before being appointed as director of the Office of State Personnel.
Matemu, a Kenya native who now resides in Holly Springs, is a Raleigh lawyer specializing in federal law who has not previously held elected office.
Libertarian Matemu made some personal appearances in the district. He hosted video presentations on the issues from his home that, as of election night, had only been seen 330 times on YouTube.
While Matemu stayed out of the game with high-profile political advertising, Holding and Coleman traded barbs with widely seen television advertising commercials in and around the capital city.
Holding accused Coleman of failing to pay her taxes on time, while Coleman accused Holding of taking millions of dollars in special interest money.
Coleman ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2012 and 2016.
The 2nd Congressional District brings in pieces of six central-North Carolina counties.
Wilson County’s western half joins portions of Johnston, Wake, Nash and all of Franklin and Harnett counties to form the district, which has constituency around the northern, eastern and southern portions of Raleigh.
Holding promised to help Congress to balance the budget, saying it was “irresponsible to pass on the deficit to our children and grandchildren.” Holding ran against Obamacare. Holding said he was “eye to eye” with President Trump on tax cuts.
Coleman promised to work toward “bipartisan solutions and fight for better health care, better jobs and better education.”