Smith wins GOP congressional primary, right to face Butterfield in November

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Sandy Smith jumped out to an early lead and never gave it up in her pursuit of an opportunity to challenge U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield in the fall.

As winner of the Republican primary race Tuesday, Smith will challenge Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat who has held that seat since July 2004. Butterfield didn’t face a primary challenger. 

U.S. House of Representatives District 1 includes the counties of Vance, Warren, Northampton, Hertford, Gates, Halifax, Bertie, Nash, Edgecombe, Martin, Washington, Wilson, Pitt, Wayne and Greene.

With 95.62%, or 2,553 out of 2,670 precincts reporting in 15 counties, Sandy Smith had 31,343 votes, or 77%. Michele Nix had 4,039 votes, or 9.92%. In third place was Jim Glisson with 3,091 votes, or 7.59%, and in last place was Ethan Baca with 2,234 votes, or 5.49%.

In Wilson County, with all 24 precincts reporting, Smith had a total of 4,158 votes (78.66%). Nix was a distant second with 683 votes, (12.92%). Glisson had 276 votes (5.22%) and Baca had 169 votes (3.2%).

Smith had invested in numerous radio spots and had posted some of the largest political signs around Wilson declaring complete support for President Donald Trump.

The East Carolina University graduate and Winterville resident has an extensive business background.

Smith said during the campaign that “our nation is in crisis.” 

“These socialists on the Democrat side really want to change our country for the worse. I am a fighter who will fight against it. I’m tired of the do-nothing politicians like Democrat G.K. Butterfield. He has represented the 1st District for over 15 years and has done nothing. Northeastern North Carolina is forgotten about in this state, and we need someone like me who will stand up and fight for this area.”

Christy Fyle, chairwoman of the Wilson County Republican Party, said Smith will be a formidable opponent against Butterfield.

“She will absolutely be able to carry to torch and go up against G.K. Butterfield,” Fyle said. “He has been there for 16 years. We were the poorest district then and we are the poorest district now.” 

“She has leadership skills that are necessary and she will make sure that District 1 will benefit,” Fyle said. “That is something that G.K. has not done. He has shown concern, but I think she can do things to make our communities better.”

“Sandy is going to be a force to reckon with,” Fyle said.

Nix, a New York native,  is an investment adviser for nearly 20 years with First Citizens Investor Services.

Nix said she ran for Congress “to support President Trump and his ‘Keep America Great’ policies.”

“Democrats have held NC-1 since 1883. Their party has done little to improve the lives of those in the district, and the current representative is out of touch with the challenges we face,” Nix said during he campaign. “We need a representative who will support our president and vote to reduce taxes and regulations so we can continue to strengthen the economy and create jobs in the district.”

Baca, who was educated at University of New Mexico, considers himself a blue-collar worker who works full time for a fastener distributor.

Baca said he would “work around he clock to help our community, our state and our country, keep the blessings that we inherited from our nation’s founders. I want my children, and my neighbors’ children, to have the best quality of life possible.”

“My personal mission will be to make it easier for people of average means to start and run a business, just like I was able to do,” Baca said during the campaign.

A fourth candidate, Jim Glisson of Goldsboro, was on the ballot, but Glisson announced in December that he had withdrawn from the race.