RALEIGH — U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre’s slight hold on his District 7 seat still has a chance to slip if challenger David Rouzer demands a recount, state election officials said Wednesday.
Unofficial results show the Lumberton native, a Democrat, leading his Republican challenger by 507 votes out of more than 334,000 that were cast. That’s a margin of 0.16 percent, close enough to trigger a mandatory recount if requested by Rouzer, a two-term state senator.
While Johnnie McLean, deputy state elections director, said that Rouzer is “well within” the 1 percent threshold for a recount, she was quick to point out that the count was still out on provisional and absentee ballots, which could number just more than 10,000. The deadline for military and oversees civilians to send in ballots is Nov. 15, and Rouzer will have until noon on Nov. 20 to request a recount.
McIntyre must receive about 2,800 additional votes to dodge a possible recount.
“Experience tells us that normally the votes are cast in the same manner as are the election night results,” McLean said. “But with it that close, obviously that might not prove to the be the case.”
So far, Rouzer’s campaign has remained vague on what its next steps may be.
“With many uncounted provisional and military ballots still outstanding, the race is too close to call and is now in the hands of election officials,” a spokesperson for Rouzer’s campaign said Wednesday in a statement. “As for the next step, it is our understanding that election officials will start a canvass of the votes as early as next week in each of the counties, which would need to be completed by Friday, Nov. 16. We will let this process play out and go from there.”
McIntyre is seeking a ninth term as the District 7 representative, but the district as it was redrawn is much different than the one he has represented since 1997. It now encompasses a largely rural stretch of eastern North Carolina sprinkled with small towns, and only includes a sliver of Robeson County, and doesn’t include McIntyre’s Lumberton home.
McIntyre secured Robeson with a majority vote of nearly 71 percent — winning by at least 100 votes in each of the five county precincts that lie in his district and by 629 during early voting.
Despite the closeness of the vote, McIntyre was quick to declare himself the winner on Tuesday.
“In spite of being the underdog by the way district lines were viciously drawn to predetermine the winner, we had friends — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — who said the race should be about the people’s choice and not based on district lines — drawn to predetermine the winner — or outside interests,” McIntyre told The Robesonian.
The Robesonian was unable to get a comment from his campaign on Wednesday concerning a possible recount.
As a state senator, Rouzer voted for those new district boundaries. He is a resident of Republican-leaning Johnston County, which was added to the district.
A member of his party’s conservative Blue Dog caucus, the 56-year-old McIntyre narrowly survived the Tea Party wave of 2010, which swamped many of the remaining rural Democrats in Congress.