RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republican challenger David Rouzer has requested a recount in the race for North Carolina's 7th Congressional District.
Rouzer, a state senator from Johnson County, trails incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre by 655 votes, a margin of 0.2 percent among the nearly 337,000 ballots cast. That's within the 0.5 percent margin to trigger a recount under state law, if requested by a candidate.
In a statement, Rouzer said he wants to ensure every "legal vote" cast is properly and accurately counted, pointing to the potential for human error as exhibited by a vote counting error found corrected in Bladen County.
Poll workers there accidently counted the votes from one precinct twice. The mistake was discovered during a routine check of the tally conducted the day after the election.
"In a race this close, accidental human error could easily change the outcome," Rouzer said.
State Board of Elections executive director Gary O. Bartlett said a machine recount will be held Monday and Tuesday at an estimated cost of $50,000.
North Carolina's 7th Congressional District encompasses a largely rural stretch of 12 eastern North Carolina counties sprinkled with small towns. A member of his party's conservative Blue Dog caucus, the 56-year-old McIntyre is seeking a ninth term. The pending recount notwithstanding, McIntyre has already declared victory in the race, suggesting his lead is too big for Rouzer to overcome.
"While we respect the legal right for a recount, it is unfortunate that taxpayer dollars, time, and resources will be spent on a process that has been closely monitored," said Lachlan McIntosh, McIntyre's campaign manager. "For someone who has claimed fiscal responsibility, David Rouzer is asking taxpayers to pay for his pursuit of his own personal political ambition."
National Republican leaders targeted the district as a prime opportunity to expand their majority in the U.S. House after redistricting. That resulted in one of the most expensive television ad wars in the country with outside groups on both sides spending millions.
Though he is the incumbent, a victory by McIntyre would be considered something of an upset. In 2011, the state's Republican-dominated legislature approved new boundaries for the 7th that cut out heavily Democratic precincts in central Wilmington and McIntyre's hometown of Lumberton.
As a state senator, Rouzer voted for those new district lines. Republican-leaning Johnston County, where he lives, was added to the district.
Even before the changes, the district was trending Republican, voting to re-elect President George W. Bush in 2004 and for GOP nominee John McCain in 2008. McIntyre narrowly survived the tea party wave of 2010, which swamped many of the remaining rural Democrats in Congress.
Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck