RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican voters have selected Thom Tillis to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
Tillis is speaker of the North Carolina House. Seven other Republicans also sought the nomination, but were outdistanced by Tillis in Tuesday’s primary.
He had the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Life Committee and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
National party leaders have targeted Hagan as part of their effort to try to gain control of the Senate.
Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan also won her primary for U.S. Senate over two lesser-known opponents Tuesday night.
Unofficial results Tuesday show the first-term senator from Greensboro receiving 81 percent of the vote with more than 10 percent of the precincts reporting. Computer repair shop owner Will Stewart of Hampstead had 12 percent of the vote while military veteran Ernest Reeves of Greenville had 7 percent.
Hagan will now take on a Libertarian candidate and Tillis as her Republican challenger in November.
Hagan is a former banker who previously served in the North Carolina Senate before defeating incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008. Hagan describes herself as a moderate who’s worked to protect the middle class and tried to work across the aisle with Republicans.
Voters in both parties also made their choices to fill the seat left vacant by former Democratic Rep. Mel Watts.
And former “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken was one of three contenders for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the fall.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.