Former state Sen. Robert Pittenger and Mecklenburg Co. Commisioner Jim Pendergraph advanced to a Republican primary runoff in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District.
The Associated Press called the runoff around 10:30 p.m. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Pittenger led an 11-man field with 32 percent, and Pendergraph was comfortably in second place with 25 percent. Pittenger would have needed 40 percent to avoid a runoff.
Pendergraph was retiring GOP Rep. Sue Myrick's anointed replacement, but that trained Pittenger's fire on him throughout the primary, and the former state legislator contributed over $1.1 million of his own money to the campaign.
Pendergraph raised doubts about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate late in the campaign, presumably to shore up conservative support. But it also earned him rebukes from some local media outlets which subsequently rescinded endorsements.
North Carolina's runoff elections will take place July 17. The 9th District is a safe Republican seat.