Republican Sager defeats Griffin to capture District 11
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 5, 2008 1:46 PM
Republican Efton Sager talks on his cell phone shortly after getting the news of his victory over Democrat Ronnie Griffin for the North Carolina District 11 seat on Tuesday night at the Elks Lodge in Goldsboro.
Running for a seat that had been targeted by both the state Republican and Democratic parties, it was Republican Efton Sager who came out on top in the state House District 11 race with nearly 58 percent of the vote.
Vacated by four-term Republican Louis Pate who made a bid for the state Senate District 5 seat, the District 11 House seat was seen by Republicans as one they had to hold onto if they wanted to close in on a majority, while Democrats saw it as a chance to pick up an open seat and strengthen their hold on the state Legislature.
And while the Republicans didn't pick up enough seats this year to turn the tables in the House, Sager described his win as an important one.
"I think it's important we change some of the leadership in Raleigh, come together and limit spending," he said. "We cannot raise taxes at this time, I will not go along with that, and I hope we'll have the type of leadership that will not do that."
But regardless, he reiterated his campaign pledge to stand up and fight for the interests of North Carolina's counties.
"I've seen some of the hardships placed on the counties, and I'll do anything I can to stop those mandates," Sager said.
And he believes it was that attitude and that promise to look out for Wayne County's best interests that helped motivate the district to support him.
"I attribute my victory to a grassroots effort and building a relationship with the people in my district," he said. "It shows that money can't buy a race. I spent a lot less than my opponent, and I'm honored the people have put their trust in me."
And so in return, he plans to continue talking to his constituents and asking for their input as he prepares to take office in January.
"There's going to be a lot of hard work to be done," he said, noting that education will be at the top of that list.
For his opponent, Democrat Ronnie Griffin, however, the loss was the end of the road. It was his second attempt at the seat, and his second defeat.
In 2006, he lost to Pate, and on Tuesday, he lost to Sager 18,396 votes to 13,355 -- 57.94 percent to 42.06 percent.
"I don't think I'll run for anything again. I think I could have been effective ... but I don't know anything we could have done differently," Griffin said. "I wish Efton well, and I'm sure he'll do a good job. He ran a good race and I congratulate him."
He said that he wasn't terribly surprised at the loss -- noting the wins notched in Wayne County for other Republicans such as U.S. Sen. John McCain (for president) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (for re-election).
"I think that played a huge part -- not to take anything away from Efton," he said. "We did the best we could, but it just wasn't good enough."
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