Republican state Rep. Greg Murphy has won the special election for North Carolina’s 3rd District, succeeding the late GOP Rep. Walter B. Jones and likely becoming the next member of the House Freedom Caucus.
With 44 percent of precincts reporting, Murphy led Democrat Allen Thomas 59 percent to 40 percent when The Associated Press called the race. Murphy, who won a primary runoff in July, was largely expected to win this seat left open by Jones’ death in February. Jones won a 13th term without opposition last fall, and President Donald Trump carried the seat by 23 points in 2016.
Murphy finished first in a 17-way primary in April but failed to win the nomination outright. He advanced to a runoff against pediatrician Joan Perry, who had the support of outside groups dedicated to electing GOP women. The political arm of the House Freedom Caucus backed Murphy in what became a proxy war between competing D.C. interests. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the vice chairman, campaigned for him in the district. Murphy used their backing to help convey his support for Trump.
Despite Murphy’s support for a version of Medicaid expansion in the state legislature that Meadows said he disagreed with, the outgoing Freedom Caucus chairman has said Murphy will be a member of the invitation-only hard-line conservative group.
This will be the first time in more than 24 years that the 3rd District has new representation. Jones was first elected in 1994. His father had represented a similar area for about 26 years before that.