CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Voters are sending former state senator Robert Pittenger to the U.S. House.
The 64-year-old Republican won the 9th Congressional District seat left open when Republican Sue Myrick stepped down after nine terms.
With 91 percent of the precincts reporting unofficial returns, Pittenger had nearly 52 percent of the vote to defeat 52-year-old Democratic Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts on Tuesday.
The race was one of the most bitter in the state, with Pittenger saying his opponent supported big government and Roberts saying Pittenger's views were too radical for a district that wanted someone to work across the aisle.
The 9th District runs from western Monroe through southern and western Charlotte north to Iredell County
Leading up to Election Day
Both candidates stopped at polling sites in Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties, shaking hands and talking with residents waiting to cast ballots this past weekend.
A third candidate for District nine is Libertarian Curtis Campbell.
Pittenger is a former state Senator and currently a real estate developer. The conservative Republican led the recent fight against gay marriage and is counting on his party affiliation to mean the difference.
“I think people are concerned,” Pittenger said late last week. “They know where our country is going, know I’m a businessman, committed to bringing fiscal accountability when I was in State Senate."
He also believes that helped him to raise a record $3 million for the campaign, though records show much of it was his own money. In comparison, Roberts raised just half a million dollars.
Pittenger, who did some last minute campaigning at Lansdowne Elementary School earlier Tuesday, is holding his election night party at the Mariott Hotel in SouthPark.
"It's been a great ride. I've really enjoyed the people," Pittenger said late Tuesday afternoon. "I've got to know a lot of folks and what their needs are and what they are about."
Roberts is holding her election night party at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. She spent her last hours campaigning at McAlpine Elementary School.
"I have always been in this race knowing it's going to be a challenge. I'm not afraid of a challenge," Roberts said Tuesday afternoon.
Pittenger lost a bid for North Carolina's Lieutenant Governor in 2008.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.