With the second vote already underway, the Republican congressional candidate is bowing out. NC Newsline

Early voting for the Republican nomination in the state’s 13th Congressional District started a week ago and won’t end until Tuesday, May 14, but it appears the campaign ended today.

And once again, Donald Trump’s iron grip on Republican voters appears to have been the driving force.

Kelly Daughtry, the daughter of former state lawmaker and former House Majority Leader Leo Daughtry, and the leading vote-getter in the March 5 primary, announced today that she has suspended her campaign.

In a statement on her campaign Facebook page, Daughtry said:

“In light of President Trump’s endorsement of Brad Knott for the District 13 Congressional seat, it has become clear that a path to victory is no longer feasible. I believe in the democratic process and respect the support of our President.

It is now time to suspend my campaign. Although I will no longer be a candidate, I will not stop using my voice for the things I believe in. I will focus on conservative voter registration operations and supporting the nominated conservative candidates for the judiciary who are running in November.

Brad Knott will become the Republican nominee on May 14. I congratulate him and wish him the best. Brad has my full support, and I want him to know that I am here to support him, not antagonize him.”

The announcement all but guarantees that Knott will be elected to Congress in a November contest against Democrat Frank Pierce, as the 13th District was redrawn by Republican state lawmakers last year to ensure a Republican Party victory.

The demise of the Daughtry candidacy is reminiscent of what happened in the 6th Congressional District in late March, when former Congressman Mark Walker declined to seek a runoff against newcomer Addison McDowell despite losing the primary by just 2%. McDowell also received Trump’s support and Walker chose to take a stand in the Trump campaign when he withdrew.

In her announcement on Thursday, Daughtry – who actually defeated Knott in March by 27.39% to 18.67%, just short of the 30% needed to avoid a runoff – made no mention of future plans other than supporting of Knott’s candidacy.