Early voting for Democratic runoff strongest in Forsyth

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Forsyth County could have a pivotal say on who will be the Democratic challenger to face U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx in the November general election, if early voting is any indication, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Early voting for the 5th Congressional District primary runoff race between Gardenia Henley and Josh Brannon ended at 1 p.m. Saturday. The primary runoff will be held Tuesday.

Henley is a retired U.S. State Department employee and a former candidate for Winston-Salem mayor. Brannon is a software developer from the Watauga County community of Vilas.

Early voting election totals were obtained Saturday in eight of the district’s 12 counties, some of which are only partially in the district. The totals included one-stop, absentee and military votes.

The bulk of the 689 votes in those eight counties were cast in Forsyth, at 397. There were 71 votes cast in Catawba, 58 in Alleghany, 54 in Rowan, 47 in Ashe, 31 in Alexander, 22 in Yadkin and nine in Davidson.

The district’s other counties are Davie, Iredell, Watauga and Wilkes.

Voting for the runoff is open to registered Democrats in the district, and to registered unaffiliated voters in the district who voted Democratic in the May 6 primary or did not vote.

Lamar Joyner, Forsyth’s interim elections director, estimates the runoff could cost Forsyth taxpayers about $90,000. The county will open 82 polling places Tuesday.

In the May primary, Brannon received 7,972 votes, or 33 percent of the total. Henley received 6,386 votes for 26.5 percent. A candidate needed at least 40 percent to avoid a runoff.

Henley won Forsyth in the May primary with 3,591 votes, while Brannon was second at 2,994. Brannon won Davie, Iredell and Watauga in the May primary.

Another potential key is which candidate will win support in Alexander, Alleghany Wilkes and Yadkin.

Michael Holleman of Wilkes received 23.2 percent of the May primary vote as part of winning Alexander, Alleghany and Wilkes. Will Stinson of Yadkin received 17.3 percent.

Early voting also concluded Saturday in Stokes, Surry and several other surrounding counties to determine the Republican nominee in the 6th Congressional District.

Mark Walker and Phil Berger Jr. are battling to face Democrat Laura Fjeld on Nov. 4 for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Howard Coble. Coble did not run for re-election after 30 years.

The runoff race between Berger and Walker has been particularly intense. Berger is the district attorney for Rockingham County, while Walker is a former Baptist pastor.

Walker has lined up local endorsements and small donors, while Berger has drawn support from Coble, tea party groups, big-money political action committees and Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation. Berger is the son of Phil Berger Sr., president pro tem of the state Senate who is considered by many analysts to be the state’s most powerful politician.

The Associated Press contributed to this article