Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Linda Coleman outside of an independently-owned coffee shop near Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Polls consistently show Republican Pat McCrory leading Walter Dalton in the North Carolina gubernatorial race. Republicans are likely to keep the legislature. Some Republicans could land in state secretary positions.

But it is Linda Coleman, former state House member and former director of the Office of State Personnel, who might find herself the lone Democratic officer among a sea of Republican lawmakers. Coleman could also become the highest-ranking LGBT-friendly elected official in Raleigh.

After months of campaigning all that uncertainly will end on Tuesday evening as polls close and election results pour in. The next two-four years of local, state and national government will be decided.

Unlike McCrory’s months-long, double-digit lead over Dalton, Coleman and her opponent, Republican Dan Forest, have been running a neck-and-neck race. Poll after poll has shown a nearly evenly divided electorate. In some, Coleman leads. In others, it’s Forest, the second son of Charlotte’s retiring U.S. House Rep. Sue Myrick.

So what happens if Coleman wins the race? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a sitting governor and sitting lieutenant governor came from opposing parties.

“The role I would play would be a pivotal one. It would be a key one,” Coleman told qnotes. “It would be one where the message could go out. I would be the one who would deliver the message of my party and the advocates I believe in so strongly.”

It’s a “bully pulpit,” of sorts, said Coleman.

“I would get an opportunity to stand up for what is right, what is just, what is fair and what is equal,” she said. “I would hope to be able to stand up for the kinds of things that represent Democratic principles and stand up for people who are working people, who are middle class people to make sure that their voices are heard.”

The 2012 election could result in one of the most divided governments North Carolina has seen in its entire history. Even if a McCrory becomes governor and Republicans continue to hold the legislature, the presence of a Democratic lieutenant governor and several Democratic members of the Council of State, like the state’s superintendent of public instruction or secretary of state, will make for interesting politics.

Compromise and negotiation will be key and Coleman knows it.

“I am not opposed to working across the aisle with anyone,” she said. “I think that it would be a detriment to me as well as a detriment to North Carolina if I went in with an agenda that would not have any flexibility. I’m looking forward to sitting down with whoever is going to be the governor whether it is a Democrat or a Republican and finding common ground on where we might accomplish some goals.”

Coleman was endorsed by the statewide LGBT education and advocacy group Equality North Carolina. No Republicans were endorsed by the group this year.

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Click here for more information on your voter registration, to learn where your polling place is located or for a sample ballot.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.