North Carolina electoral board approves Republican with criminal record for legislature.

 State Board of Elections decided Tuesday that an ex-felon may compete for a North Carolina legislature seat after a county election board found him dismissed for offenses in another state.

State board members overwhelmingly confirmed last week's split Rockingham County Board of Elections decision to dismiss a candidate challenge against Joseph Gibson III and deem him qualified for a state House seat.

Gibson will face Rep. Reece Pyrtle in the March 5 Republican primary, who beat Gibson with over 80% of the vote in 2022. No Democrats will challenge the winner in the fall.

In December, Rockingham County GOP chairwoman Diane Parnell filed a candidate challenge, arguing that Gibson may be unable to run for office due to 1990s offenses.

North Carolina law restores felony offenders' voting rights and eligibility to run for office when they complete prison sentence and probation or parole. Parnell filed that she was unaware of the repair.

Gibson told the county board on Tuesday that he has served terms for offenses in Connecticut, including his 2008 probation in North Carolina.

Gibson has no discharge record, but the State Board of Elections does not place him on a list of convicted criminals for Rockingham County authorities. A state board attorney declared Tuesday that Gibson didn't need discharge documentation to qualify.

State Republican activists who opposed Gibson's candidacy called him a neo-Nazi. One stated Democrats wanted Gibson on the ballot to shame the GOP. In 2022, an Anti-Defamation League arm called Gibson an extremist. Gibson told WRAL-TV last week that his podcast radio show receives calls from all political parties, denying the neo-Nazi charge. Not covered in Tuesday's discussion were his beliefs.

The Rockingham board, dominated by Democrats, denied the challenge 3-2. Given its extensive investigation, the state board's two Republicans decided on Tuesday to defer to the county board's decision. “The record is probably sufficient to support whatever conclusion the county board had made,” GOP board member Kevin Lewis said before Tuesday's 4-0 vote.

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