David Rouzer on Tuesday became the first Republican in more than 140 years to win the U.S. House of Representatives seat for North Carolina’s 7th District. Rouzer had been favored to prevail over Democrat Jonathan Barfield amid a growing conservative swing in the district.
According to early returns from the Associated Press, Rouzer led Barfield with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre, who has held the seat since 1997, announced his retirement earlier this year. He defeated Rouzer in 2012 by a margin of only 0.2 percent. The district, one of the largest in the state, has increasingly leaned Republican in recent years following the last redistricting.
Rouzer, a former state senator, raised more than $1.3 million for his campaign, according to campaign finance reports, far outspending Barfield and Libertarian challenger Wesley Casteen, who together spent about $72,000 on the race, WWAY, an ABC affiliate, reported.
â€” Emily Cahn (@CahnEmily) May 7, 2014
Rouzer billed himself as a conservative advocate for traditional families and small businesses in eastern North Carolina. He vowed to “vigorously fight” any legislative efforts in support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and promised to strengthen U.S. borders against illegal immigration and repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Earlier in his political career, Rouzer served as a senior policy advisor to former Sens. Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole, both R-N.C.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a national business lobbying group, and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, both endorsed Rouzer’s run.
Barfield, a commissioner for New Hanover County and a local real estate agent, ran on a platform of economic growth. “We’re focused on three things: jobs and economic development, public education and our veterans,” he told local media. “It is so important to have a congressman that knows how to create jobs.”
Barfield was backed by the National Education Association and the North Carolina chapter of the AFL-CIO labor union.