Sheriff Jerry Monette, who has held his position since 1994, appears as if he will have an opportunity to earn his seat again — for a seventh term — in November.

Democrat Monette beat out two challengers in the primary, taking 48 percent of the vote with 2,451 votes, winning by just 73 votes over challenger Eric Smith, who had 2,378 votes, or 47 percent of the total. The vote totals are unofficial.

A third challenger, John L. Gillyard, trailed far behind with 228 votes or 4.51 percent of the total.

All three candidates are New Bern residents.

Monette and Smith have faced off twice before. “The funny thing is he beat me by 300 votes the first time, and then he beat me by exactly the same number this time," Smith stated earlier in the day.

On Tuesday, the race was even tighter, with Smith losing by only 73 votes.

Monette would face Republican Chip Hughes in November's general election. Hughes did not have an opponent in Tuesday's primary. It will be his second showdown with the former state trooper whom he beat in 2014 by less than 1 percent of the vote, 15,287 to 15,162 votes.

Monette could not be reached for comment.