Michael Lee concedes close State Senate race to Harper Peterson

The hard-fought race for North Carolina Senate District 9 initially came down to just 36 votes; when the official tally, including provisional and absentee ballots, was counted today, Peterson's lead had been extended by nearly 200 votes.

In a race that came down to less than 40 votes, Democrat Harper Peterson was ahead of Republican Michael Lee when all New Hanover County precincts had reported in. (Port City Daily photo / File)
In a race that came down to less than 40 votes, Democrat Harper Peterson was ahead of Republican Michael Lee when all New Hanover County precincts had reported in. The official canvass put him slightly further ahead, and Lee conceded. (Port City Daily photo / File)

WILMINGTON — State Senator Michael Lee conceded the race for District 9 to former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson after today’s canvass widened Peterson’s lead by nearly 200 votes.

After the official count by the New Hanover County Board of Election, Lee and Peterson were separated by just 231 votes — .2 percent of the total vote, and well within the 1-percent margin required for a candidate to call a recount.

The race was seen as crucial for both the GOP and Democrats because District 9 was one of six tough campaigns that could end the Republican supermajority in the state senate. Five of those campaigns went to Democrats, leaving the fate of a veto-proof GOP majority in the hands of District 9 voters.


Perhaps with that in mind, the Board of Elections apparently foresaw a recount as likely, and preemptively scheduled time for the first week of December.

Though there are other close races in the area, including the New Hanover County Board of Education, a recount won’t be necessary for District 9.

In a press release, Lee wrote:

“I would like to congratulate Harper Peterson. I would also like to take this moment to express my gratitude to all those who have supported me through the years. Especially to the volunteers and contributors who have worked tirelessly on my behalf in our effort to make New Hanover County and North Carolina a better place. I look forward to working with you in the future!  And to my wife and children – those who have sacrificed the most during my time in public service to our community – thank you and I love you.”

Peterson issued his own statement:

“I am humbled and honored that the people of New Hanover County elected me to serve in the North Carolina Senate. I’d like to thank my opponent for his service to the state, he and his family will be my constituents now and I look forward to representing them, as well as the people of New Hanover County.”

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