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Tillis Wins GOP Nod To Challenge Democrat Hagen For Senate Seat

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Republicans have made ousting Sen. Kay Hagan one of their national goals. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis won the GOP primary to face Hagan in the Fall. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Republicans have made ousting Sen. Kay Hagan one of their national goals. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis won the GOP primary to face Hagan in the Fall. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (CBS Charlotte/AP) — North Carolina Republican voters have selected Thom Tillis to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

Tillis is speaker of the North Carolina House. Seven other Republicans also sought the nomination but were outdistanced by Tillis in Tuesday’s primary.

He had the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Life Committee and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Brannon and Harris were Tillis’ lead rivals. Both suggested Tillis wasn’t conservative enough or has political baggage that would make it difficult for him to defeat Hagan in November

Teacher Pat Green, 43, of Charlotte said she voted Tuesday for Tillis because he had the best shot of unseating Hagan. After the primary, Green added, “we will all come together. The goal is making sure that Hagan doesn’t get re-elected.”

But Alan Myers, 34, of Charlotte, chose Brannon because of his strong anti-abortion position and unwavering support for conservative issues. “He has tremendous grassroots support and would energize the base,” Myers said.

National party leaders have targeted Hagan as part of their effort to try to gain control of the Senate.

Sen. Kay Hagan easily won the North Carolina Democratic primary in her bid for re-election, receiving 76 percent of the vote in unofficial results.

Computer repair shop owner Will Stewart of Hampstead had 15 percent of the vote while military veteran Ernest Reeves of Greenville garnered 9 percent of Democratic votes.

Voters in both parties also made their choices to fill the seat left vacant by former Democratic Rep. Mel Watts.

Primaries for three congressional seats where incumbents are retiring or resigned also attracted multiple candidates. A handful of General Assembly incumbents faced spirited challengers from party candidates.

“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is seeking the 2nd District Democratic nomination against former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and counselor Toni Morris. Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers also had a GOP primary rival.

Total overall turnout was expected to be in line with the 14 percent generated in the last midterm primary election in 2010, Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said Tuesday evening. In-person early voting for the 10 days ending Saturday exceeded those generated in 2010.

Libertarians were also holding a rare Senate primary. Tim D’Annunzio of Raeford and Sean Haugh of Durham faced off to win their party’s nomination for the November election.

Tuesday’s elections also featured primaries for other judgeships, district attorney and local government positions.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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