05/03/06 — Starling defeats LaRoque in fight for 10th

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Starling defeats LaRoque in fight for 10th

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 3, 2006 1:51 PM

Willie Ray Starling edged incumbent Stephen LaRoque by nine votes to win the Republican nomination for the District 10 seat in the state House.

The district includes parts of Wayne and Lenoir counties and all of Greene County.

Starling carried his home county of Wayne, 277-55, winning in precincts 14, 15, 26 and 28. All are located in the eastern part of the county, with polling places at New Hope Friends Church, Spring Creek High School and the Dudley and Indian Springs fire stations.

Starling lost to LaRoque in LaRoque's home county of Lenoir, 731-494, but won in Greene, 135-111, winning all but two precincts in that county, Shine 1 and Sugg.

LaRoque could ask for a recount. Vote totals will be canvassed next week and will not be official until that process is completed.

If the win stands, Starling will face Democrat Van Braxton of Lenoir in November. Braxton had no opposition in the Democratic primary.

LaRoque beat Starling two years ago, but Starling carried his home county by a much wider margin Tuesday.

Starling said today that his victory was due to voter dissatisfaction with LaRoque, who had served two, two-year terms. LaRoque had aligned himself with Speaker Pro Tempore Richard Morgan of Moore County, who joined with Democrats to form a coalition that made Democrat Jim Black the speaker of the House. Morgan also lost Tuesday.

"If you jump ship like that and make deals, it's going to come back to bite you," Starling said.

He thanked those who took the time to go to the polls.

"What helped me win was the Christian conservatives got active this time in Lenoir County," he said. "The difference this time was Christian involvement and Christian dissatisfaction with LaRo-que's voting. I'm a conservative and he went up to Raleigh and voted like a Democrat."

Starling first ran for the House in 2000 but lost to Democrat Phil Baddour. Two years later, he lost to fellow Republican Louis Pate in the primary.

A native of Duplin County, Starling served in the military and later the civil service before retiring. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and was deputy chief of the Air Force Computer Security Program Office and director of information management for the Weisbaden, Germany, military community.

At retirement, he was a division chief for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and deputy chief of staff for information management at Fort Bragg.

Starling said he was disappointed with the turnout, which was low statewide.

"It is my personal conviction that the problems we have in this district, in this state and in the United States are a direct result of the lack of involvement of Christians in the political process," he said. "They made a difference in this race this time."