11/03/10 — LaRoque unseats incumbent Braxton

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LaRoque unseats incumbent Braxton

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on November 3, 2010 1:46 PM

Republican Stephen LaRoque defeated incumbent Democrat Van Braxton handily Tuesday night, taking back the state House seat he lost to Braxton four years ago.

LaRoque, a Kinston businessman, defeated Braxton in all three counties in the 10th House District, which includes most of Lenoir, all of Greene and the southeast corner of Wayne.

Two years ago, Braxton, a former member of the Kinston City Council, barely held off a strong challenge by LaRoque to win a second term in office.

In that race, LaRoque won by a small margin in Lenoir, which makes up most of the district, but split Wayne's four precincts and lost all of the precincts in Greene.

This year, he again lost in Greene, but only by a few hundred votes, and he won big in Lenoir, earning 6,757 votes to Braxton's 4,607, giving him a nearly 60-40 percent margin in his home county.

In the five Wayne County precincts included in the 10th District, LaRoque took two-thirds of the vote, 2,375 to 1,160. At New Hope Friends Church, LaRoque won 386-127. At Seven Springs Baptist Church he won 408 to 165. He took Indian Springs Fire Station 407 to 259. Braxton took the three votes cast at First Methodist Church in Mount Olive and the two candidates tied, 64-64, at Dudley Fire Station.

LaRoque also received more than twice as many one-stop votes in Wayne as Braxton, 1,074 to 533.

LaRoque had served in the Legislature for two terms before losing to fellow Republican Willie Ray Starling of Wayne County in the Republican primary in 2006. Braxton went on the beat Starling in the general election. Starling endorsed Braxton in this year's race.

The race grew nasty as the campaign wore on, with each candidate slamming the other in a multitude of campaign fliers. LaRoque wound up suing Braxton over a mailer that claimed LaRoque had caused a Lenoir business owner to lose his business and put 35 people out of work.

In announcing his intent to run again, LaRoque condemned the Democrats in the Legislature for raising taxes during a recession and said he would work to reduce the size of state government.

"We need to move to a less punitive tax system, a consumer-based tax. We need to put more money back into taxpayers' hands," he said in an interview.