RALEIGH, North Carolina Three North Carolina Republicans survived crowded primary fields to clinch their party's nomination for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in runoff contests held on Tuesday.
Republicans hoping to maintain their majority in the House and turn back Democratic efforts to regain ground aim to pick up seats in North Carolina in the November 6 general election after redistricting in the state.
Republicans hold 241 seats to the Democrats' 191 in the House, where members serve two-year terms. Democrats control the U.S. Senate by a narrower margin.
The race in the state's 8th Congressional District, a former textile area east of Charlotte, attracted national interest as Republicans look to unseat two-term Democratic incumbent Larry Kissell, who is considered vulnerable as a result of redistricting.
Advocacy groups known as Super PACs poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into radio and television ads seeking to influence the outcome of the primary runoff.
Richard Hudson, a former congressional aide to several Republican members of Congress, won the nomination on Tuesday over Scott Keadle, a dentist and former county commissioner with some Tea Party support.
Hudson, who was the top vote-getter among five Republicans in the May 8 primary, picked up endorsements from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin and other prominent state Republicans.
Hudson received nearly 64 percent of the runoff vote on Tuesday, according to partial results from the state elections board.
Republicans also hope to gain the open 11th Congressional District seat in western North Carolina. U.S. Representative Heath Shuler, a Democrat, opted to retire rather than defend the redrawn district representing the Asheville area.
Self-described conservative Christian businessman Mark Meadows, who led a field of eight Republican candidates in the May primary, topped opponent Vance Patterson by a large margin in the runoff. Meadows received 76 percent of the vote.
He will square off against Democrat Hayden Rogers, who served as Shuler's chief of staff, in November.
The retirement of longtime Republican Representative Sue Myrick created a scramble among party members vying for the 9th Congressional District seat in the solidly Republican Charlotte area. The spring primary featured 11 Republican candidates.
In the closest congressional race on Tuesday, Robert Pittenger, a former state senator and wealthy real estate investor, beat Jim Pendergraph, a county commissioner and former sheriff endorsed by Myrick.
Pittenger, who according to partial results netted about 53 percent of the vote, will face Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Libertarian candidate Curtis Campbell in the general election.
The election on Tuesday drew little voter interest, with turnout under 4 percent, according to the state elections board's website.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Mohammad Zargham)