Coble will leave Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Republican nominee in the crowded race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Howard Coble likely won’t be known until mid-summer.
Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., the son and namesake of one of North Carolina’s most powerful Republican officials, has a firm grip on the front-runner position. But GOP operatives in the Tar Heel State said Berger, whose father Phil Berger Sr. is president pro tem of the state Senate, is unlikely to surpass the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in the May 6 primary.
“I believe [Berger Jr.] has a name ID advantage just because of who his dad is,” said Matt Bales, a researcher with the non-partisan FreeEnterprise Foundation in North Carolina.
The primary has become a race for second place, and many North Carolina operatives said the rest of the nine-candidate GOP field is largely unknown, unwieldy and hard to assess.