Voters send Butterfield back to Congress

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Veteran legislator and former judge Rep. G.K. Butterfield will retain his seat in Congress, according to the will of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District voters.

“I like to think I’ve contributed to the growth of our area over the last 16 years,” Butterfield said during a private celebration of election results with loved ones. “Some don’t know, but we’re poised for significant economic growth over the next decade, and I want to be a part of that.”

Butterfield received 54.14% of votes cast while Republican challenger Sandy Smith garnered 45.86% of the votes, according to the unofficial results. The results represent early votes, ballots cast on Election Day and mail-in ballots processed through Tuesday.

Smith watched the results at a party at The Rickhouse in Greenville. She declined requests for comment.

Butterfield has represented his Wilson County roots in the nation’s capital since 2004 after retiring from the state judicial system. The Democrat said he wants to focus on bipartisanship and uniting the country.

“This has been a very difficult election season for me because the country is so divided and President (Donald) Trump has led that as a divider instead of a unifier,” he said, noting he hopes Joe Biden will take office a few weeks after he takes his oath of office. “We’ll begin Jan. 3 and we can begin to settle down and create a sense of bipartisanship because Joe Biden has time and time again his job is not to heal every division in the country, but to lead and try to unify. I want to partner with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to bring our country back together.”

Butterfield said he hopes to address rural broadband infrastructure, COVID-19 support and health care for millions if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.

“If they find it unconstitutional, 20 million Americans will be without health insurance,” he said. “It would be one thing if Trump had a plan if it is struck down or the Republicans did. But we’re going to have to try to legislate a new plan if it is struck down. I am hoping and praying it is not.”

There are nearly 2,500 Wilson County mail-in ballots yet to be counted. All voters opting to vote by mail had to have ballots postmarked by Election Day, but ballots can be received and counted until Nov. 12.