Davis will battle Pate
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on June 25, 2008 1:48 PM
For Snow Hill Mayor Don Davis, eight months of campaigning finally paid off Tuesday night as he captured the Democratic nomination for the state Senate District 5 seat.
"I really thank our supporters. We've had a field of very qualified, outstanding candidates, but we've worked hard," he said. "I appreciate everyone who came out to vote. We're excited and pleased to receive this nomination."
Cruising to a 25-point victory, Davis won 62.75 percent of the vote in his primary runoff against Kathy Taft of Greenville.
Ms. Taft, a member of the state Board of Education, won 37.25 percent of the vote.
It was, she said, a disappointing loss.
"I really believed when I went to bed (Monday) night that I had done everything I could do," she said. "I thought I ran a good campaign.
"I think sometimes things happen the way they're meant to be."
She was especially surprised at the results in Wayne County where she had spent much of her time and where she knew she had to perform well, but ultimately lost 76.92 percent to 23.08 percent.
"I made a lot of good friends. I really thought I might get more votes in Wayne County," she said. "But I didn't, and he did."
Davis also won Greene County, 73.68 percent to 26.32 percent, while Ms. Taft won Pitt, 59.31 percent to 40.69 percent.
Davis also won Greene and Wayne by sizable margins during the six-way May primary, which he failed to win outright after falling less that five percentage points short of the necessary 40 percent.
This time, though, that wasn't a problem, even as Ms. Taft once again carried her home county.
"We've had some very, very dedicated volunteers, and I think when you put it in that context, it (the margin of victory) is not totally surprising," Davis said. "We've always been a campaign about the people."
Ms. Taft, though, attributed her loss, at least in part, to relatively low voter turnout.
"It's summertime. A runoff is usually a very light vote. So many people are on vacation and just not thinking about elections," she said.
In Wayne, the turnout was 8.1 percent of all potential voters -- registered Democrats and those unaffiliated who either didn't vote or who voted in the Democratic May primaries -- while in Pitt it was 6.12 percent and 28.26 in Greene.
But, Ms. Taft said that she's not going to let her defeat get her down.
She plans to continue serving on the state school board and to help Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue in her race for the governor's seat.
What she will not do is turn her back on the fifth Senate district, and she plans to support Davis in his bid against the Republican nominee, state Rep. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, for the right to succeed retiring state Sen. John Kerr.
"I'm a Democrat, and I'm going to support the Democrats all the way," she said. "I told (Davis) that I expect great things from him."
But despite his momentum now, Davis won't make it to the Senate without a fight from Pate, who said that he plans to begin campaigning in earnest as soon as the current legislative session is over.
"I don't have time to get into politics too much right now," he said. "But I'll come up with a good game plan I believe.
"In spite of what you might have read in the local media, I'm in this race, and I'm going to let everybody know I'm in this race. I accepted this nomination to win."
But on Tuesday, the night was Davis' as he began looking ahead to November, telling the crowd at his victory rally in Snow Hill to get ready to head to Raleigh.
"This campaign is about the people -- reaching out to give a voice to ordinary people, from those less fortunate to those who have done very well," he said. "And I think the big thing is to carry that forward to the next round. We're going to reach out to unaffiliates and we'll reach out to Republicans."
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