1986 United States Senate special election in North Carolina

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United States Senate special election in North Carolina, 1986

← 1980 November 8, 1986 1992 →
  Terry Sanford.jpg James Broyhill (cropped).jpg
Nominee Terry Sanford Jim Broyhill
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 780,967 753,881
Percentage 50.88% 49.12%

U.S. Senator before election

Jim Broyhill

Elected U.S. Senator

Terry Sanford

The 1986 United States Senate special election in North Carolina was held on November 8, 1986 as part of the nationwide elections to the Senate. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Jim Broyhill, who had been appointed in June 1986 to serve out the rest of John Porter East's term, faced off against the popular Democratic former Governor Terry Sanford. This was a special election for what little remained of the 99th United States Congress (November 1986-January 1987), being held contemporaneously with a regular election for a new six-year term (beginning in January 1987).[1] Sanford won both elections.

The primary elections would nominate candidates to the special and the regular election.

Democratic primary[edit]

Terry Sanford, then the outgoing president of Duke University, first said in September 1985 that he was planning to run for the U.S. Senate the next year but quickly withdrew, as it appeared that the party wanted a "fresh" face, most likely in the person of UNC System President William Friday.[2] Then, Friday declined to run, as did other well-known politicians like former Gov. Jim Hunt.[3] Former North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Lauch Faircloth then made it known that he would run, but he was considered too conservative by many party leaders, who encouraged Sanford to enter the race in order to defeat Faircloth.[2] Sanford agreed to run, which led Faircloth and another candidate, Judge Marvin K. Blount Jr., to withdraw before filing their candidacies. Six years later, Faircloth did run for the Senate against Sanford, but this time as a Republican.



1986 North Carolina U.S. Senate Democratic primary election[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terry Sanford 409,394 60.25%
Democratic John Ingram 111,557 16.42%
Democratic Fountain Odom 49,689 7.31%
Democratic William Belk 33,821 4.98%
Democratic Theodore Kinney 27,228 4.01%
Democratic Betty Wallace 17,001 2.50%
Democratic Katherine Harper 12,998 1.91%
Democratic Walt Atkins 8,306 1.22%
Democratic Others 9,493 1.40%
Turnout 679,487

Republican primary[edit]

Sen. East declined to run for a second term, citing his health. Longtime U.S. Representative Jim Broyhill entered the race with much of the establishment support, but David Funderburk had the backing of the organization of Senator Jesse Helms.[3] Funderburk charged Broyhill with being insufficiently conservative, but in the end, Broyhill won the nomination handily in the May primary. The next month, Sen. East committed suicide, and Gov. James G. Martin appointed Broyhill to his seat.



1986 North Carolina U.S. Senate Republican primary election[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Broyhill 139,570 66.52%
Republican David Funderburk 63,593 30.31%
Republican Glenn Miller 6,662 3.18%
Turnout 148,574

Special election[edit]



1986 North Carolina U.S. Senate election – Special election[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Terry Sanford 780,967 50.88%
Republican Jim Broyhill (Incumbent) 753,881 49.12%
Turnout 1,534,875