Murphy wins big in 3rd District race
By Chris Day
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Republican state lawmaker Greg Murphy of Greenville won the vacant congressional seat in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Murphy defeated his nearest opponent, Democrat Allen Thomas, by more than 27,500 votes, garnering more than 61 percent of the vote to Thomas’ 37 percent. Two third-party candidates — Libertarian Tim Harris and Greg Holt of the N.C. Constitution Party — were far behind, combining for less than 1 percent of the vote.
Murphy, who finished with 70,442 votes, won in every county of the 17-county 3rd Congressional District, with the exception of Hyde, where he lost by a little more than 40 votes.
Murphy carried Pitt County, where both he and Thomas — a former mayor of Greenville — live. Murphy also carried all area counties.
According to area voters interviewed outside polling stations on Tuesday, many saw their vote for Murphy as a vote for President Donald Trump in 2020.
Outside the K.E. White Center one married couple used a past comment by Hillary Clinton to explain why they voted for Murphy.
“He’s Republican and we’re deplorables,” the wife said laughing.
She was referring to a comment Clinton made during the 2016 presidential campaign. While speaking at a fundraiser in New York City in September, Clinton said that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”
Clinton later apologized for the remark, but the word “deplorables” became a rally cry for Trump supporters.
The couple agreed that a vote for Murphy on Tuesday was a vote for Trump in his 2020 re-election bid.
Another woman said that while she is registered unaffiliated, she voted Republican on Tuesday. That’s because Murphy is a staunch supporter of the Trump administration, and as a senior citizen and the widow of a Vietnam veteran, she is pleased with the current White House.
“I like the way Trump is running the country,” the woman said.
Another woman, who also is retired, said she voted for Thomas.
“I think he’ll make a good congressman,” said the woman, who added that the United States needs a change in Washington.
“I hope we get it,” she said, referring to Thomas, who recently visited her congregation at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. “Because things look messy.”
At the time she cast her ballot, which was around noon, she was the 35th voter to cast a ballot at the K.E. White Center since polls opened at 7 a.m. Despite the low turnout, she was optimistic more voters would arrive as the day continued.
“You’ve got lunch time and off the work time,” she said, of opportunities to vote. “If you want to win Democrats, you’ve got to vote.”
Another voter also expressed his support for Thomas.
“I’m a Democrat,” the man said. “I like his platform. I just think he’d be a good man to represent us.”
At River Road Middle School, voters also showed support for Murphy and Thomas.
One married couple said they both voted for Murphy because he shares similar views with President Trump, especially regarding the nation’s economy.
“Mr. Murphy is the best person for the job,” the husband said. “I think we need more Republicans in office.”
The wife said it was Trump’s rally Monday night in Fayetteville that sold them on supporting Murphy. They did not attend the rally but they liked Trump’s message to supporters. They also agreed that a vote for Murphy on Tuesday most likely guaranteed their support for Trump in 2020.
A mother-daughter couple said they both voted for Thomas because they liked the “organic approach” Thomas’s campaign used to reach voters. For example, they said, Thomas had a team send out hand-written postcards to residents seeking their support. Also, Thomas made several visits to the area, particularly to churches, in the days leading up to Tuesday, they said.
Meanwhile, a middle-aged man who said he voted for Thomas voiced his concerns for the nation under the direction of current Republicans.
“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I don’t like what the Republicans are doing to this country.”
According to him, the United States has fallen from world-leader status because of harm done by Republicans and the Trump administration.
“I think they’ve set this country back,” the man said. “We’re no longer a superpower. China has overtaken us, and Russia is coming up, too.”
In Chowan County, residents expressed their support for the Republican candidate.
Shawn Massey said he voted for Murphy because he will “support President Trump’s agenda.”
Joe Hollowell said he was “proud to cast my ballot for Dr. Greg Murphy. He is a candidate that lives the statement that, ‘service to humanity is the best work of life.’ ... Murphy will be a true people’s congressman.”
Betty Bass said she also voted for Murphy.
“I know him personally and he’s been my doctor in the past,” she said. “He is a great Christian man, which we need more of them in office. He will work for the people I pray, not just the party.”
Chowan Herald staff writer Miles Layton contributed to this report.