Join us for what we hope will be a fine evening of liveblogging the primary election results in Orange County, NC. We have fine correspondents embedded at watch parties and at home, and will do our best to keep up with the proceedings. Polls close at 7:30 PM and results from early voting will appear soon after.

7:19: If you haven’t lived in NC for an election night, you can find returns trickling in on the NC State Board of Elections dashboard. (Orange County | Durham County)

7:21: We have our first candidate sighting. Jeff Nieman, who is running for district attorney, is huddled up with his supporters at The Baxter. There are free arcade games and pizza, we’ve been told.

7:31: If this is a normal night, we’ll get results (from the early vote) immediately, followed by everything else in a few hours.

7:33: The early results are in. Jonah Garson is up by 58 votes in early voting.

7:34: Graig Meyer has a commanding leave in the State Senate. Renee Price is also leading in the House race in early voting.

7:35: With all the early vote in, Valerie Foushee has almost 50 percent of the vote. Nida Allam has 34 percent of the vote. Clay Aiken is in third place by a slight margin.

7:36: Jeff Nieman is likely to win the race for District Attorney.

7:37: Eliazar Posada has 78 percent of the vote in Carrboro. If he wins, he’ll occupy the Town Council seat that opened up after Damon Seils became mayor.

7:40: WCHL crediting Jonah Garson’s success with students for his early lead.

7:42: With early voting results in, the four Orange County School Board candidates on the Orange County Association of Educators ticket are ahead, but not by much. (Some of these candidates also received endorsements from the Progressive Democrats of Orange County and Indy Week).

7:44: Mark Chilton has 65 percent of the early vote in the race for Register of Deeds. He is likely to win as well.

7:51: While the winner of the Democratic primary for NC-4 is likely to win in November, the Republican nominee is probably going to be Courtney Geels, whose website boasts endorsements from Mike Lindell (the “My Pillow” guy) and Seth Keshel, one of a number of ex-military officers who have spread lies about the 2020 election.

8:02: Cheri Beasley (94%) and Ted Budd (53%) leading the D and R Senate races in Durham Co early voting. Foushee and Allam are neck and neck in Durham Co. early voting (44/41% respectively). Aiken in a distant 3rd w/7.8% – he came in 2nd on American Idol. It looks like he will be further down the runners up list in this race.

8:17: While Valerie Foushee won all the early vote precincts, Nida Allam was closest at the Carrboro Town Hall (1,403 to 1907) and Chapel of the Cross (570 to 671), which is next to UNC’s campus. Meanwhile, at the Seymour Center, Foushee almost doubled Allam’s vote count, 2,107 to 1,083.

By contrast, Jonah Garson did better at the Seymour Center (1,448 to Allen Buansi’s 1,360) than Carrboro (1,402 to Buansi’s 1,587). While Garson did better at the Chapel of the Cross (735 to 594), it doesn’t appear that his support was as ideological as Neda Allam’s. The Seymour Center, in north Chapel Hill, tends to be a stronghold for more older and more conservative voters.

That’s actually pretty interesting. There must have been a lot of Garson-Foushee voters.

8:19: So far, the “unity” block in Siler City is losing handily. Read this excellent piece in the Chatham News and Record about the red flags the group raised.

8:22: Over at Graig Meyer’s party at B-Side, campaign manager Jeremy Borden is giving a speech. This is Borden’s first campaign. Meyer has 86.53% of the votes cast early for the NC State Senate District Dem spot.

8:32: While the NC-04 race was sharp-elbowed, we were really impressed with the campaigns for State Senate and State House. The candidates ran positive, issue-focused campaigns.

8:40: We also want to write a short note of appreciation for Penny Rich, who ran for Register of Deeds. Penny ran a very good race and brought a lot of attention to the Register of Deeds office and what it does. We appreciate that she made the race competitive – that’s healthy for democracy!

8:42: While there’s a lot to watch tonight, in a healthy democracy we’d also be reporting on primary races for the Board of County Commissioners in Orange County. There were four incumbents, all of whom filed to run again, and no one challenged them. Eleven days after the filing deadline, Jamezetta Bedford, who represents southern Orange County, voted against funding the 203 Project.

8:45: It’s official. Cheri Beasley is the first Black woman nominee for the US Senate from North Carolina. We’re looking forward to voting for her in November.

8:48: It’s always a helpful reminder that a small part of Chapel Hill residents live in Durham County.

8:53: With (6/40) precincts reporting, only 6 votes separate Jonah Garson and Allen Buansi for NC House District 56.

Has the Indy ever refused to make an endorsement because they liked both candidates? While one endorsement is rarely enough to make a difference, the contest between Garson and Buansi (the Indy endorsed both) is so close that a decision from the Indy might have made a difference.

9:01: One of the striking things about local election is the sharp difference in the number of people who vote depending on when the election is held. In Orange County, the 2021 local elections brought out 16,984 people to the polls. In 2020, 85,281 people voted, more than 5 times as many. The May 2022 primary has 17,620 voters so far.

9:17: David Price, born in 1940, is retiring this year at the age of 81. His likely replacement, Valerie Foushee, was born in 1956. If she stays in office until she’s 81, we could next have a competitive primary in 2037.

9:20: If Renee Price wins, does that mean that there will be a special election for Orange County Board of County Commissioners next year? Or does the BOCC just pick her replacement, like they did recently with Mark Dorosin’s seat when he moved to Florida? It’d be a bit strange if 2/7 BOCC members came into office by being picked, not elected.

9:35: Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils welcomes Eliazar Posada to Town Council. Chapelboro coverage is here. “While the eight Election Day precincts in Carrboro have yet to report, the lead is significant enough to project Posada’s victory.”

9:52: Chapelboro is also calling for Foushee, Nieman, Meyer, Chilton, and Price.

10:19: In a race that was closer than anyone expected, Allen Buansi wins the Democratic nomination for HD-56 over Jonah Garson, 7,653 votes to Garson’s 7,218. While Garson won the early vote, and the precincts the in southern and western part of the district, Buansi’s strength in northern Chapel Hill was enough to put him over the top.

10:23: The final turnout in Orange County was 31,829 voters, substantially higher than the November 2021 local elections.

10:26: In an interesting twist, two of tonight’s winners—Eliazar Posada and Allen Buansi—will begin their jobs immediately. Posada will take Seils’s old seat in the Carrboro Town Council, while Rep. Verla Insko has promised that she’ll appoint the winner of the HD-56 Democratic primary (Buansi) to fill out the remainder of her current term.

10:27: While there’s much more to say about this race, with the results in, we’re calling it a night. Thanks for reading along. Although elections matter, in local politics there’s always the opportunity to be involved, so please keep reading Triangle Blog Blog, and reach out to your local elected officials.

In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....