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Jones has comfortable lead, veteran representative carries Beaufort County

With a little more than half the precincts in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District reporting at 9 p.m. Tuesday, incumbent Walter B. Jones had about a 6,000-vote lead over challengers Scott Dacey and Phil Law. Jones had 44.72 percent of the votes, followed by Dacey with 28.14 percent and Law with 27.14 percent, according to unofficial vote totals.

Jones carried Beaufort County with 1,562 votes, followed by Phil Law, 1.505 votes, and Scott Dacey, 813 votes.

Jones has been in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1995. He served 10 years in the N.C. General Assembly before going to Congress.

In the contest, allegiance to Trump was a hot topic. Jones led Dacey, a Craven County commissioner and 2016 primary rival Law, according to partial results. With no Democrat running, the GOP nominee is a near shoe-in to win in the fall. Jones, 75, said this would be his last race.

Dacey accused Jones, a deficit hawk opposed to the war in Iraq, of failing to support the president by voting against Trump’s tax overhaul and dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. Jones, who like his father before him has served the region in Congress for a quarter-century, said he stands on principle against expanding the national debt.

Several North Carolina congressional incumbents won their primaries Tuesday, but a sitting House GOP member was narrowly trailing a repeat challenger who criticized him for not fully supporting President Donald Trump and the conservative cause.

Partial, unofficial election results showed three-term Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte slightly behind Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris in the primary rematch. In 2016, Pittenger won by only 134 votes over Harris in the south-central 9th District. Clarence Goins of Fayetteville was running a distant third this time.

Both Pittenger and Harris described themselves as best aligned with Trump and traditional Republican principles on spending and the military. They also pitched their Christian and gun-rights credentials in the socially conservative district. The winner will take on a Democrat and a Libertarian in November.

Pittenger got the vote of Joe Jones, a 74-year-old management consultant, who said Tuesday that he believes the congressman would more regularly support Trump.

“I like Trump, so I don’t want to take an arrow out of Trump’s quiver, so to speak, by electing Harris,” Joe Jones said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.