CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Election day in North Carolina turned in to a sort of mixed bag for the Tar Heel State’s LGBT community on Tuesday. While President Barack Obama won reelection, he did so without carrying North Carolina. Anti-gay Republicans picked up new seats representing the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two gay candidates for the state legislature lost in their races.
Regardless, local community members who gathered at Petra’s, an LGBT-friendly bar in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, could barely contain their excitement as newscasters on the bar’s projection screen announced Obama had reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed for reelection.
“Can you believe it,” asked one reveler as another said, “This is history,” among shouts and whistles.
Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s success in North Carolina overshadows Obama’s 2008 victory here. Carried by only 14,000 votes four years ago, Obama and his reelection team had hoped to keep North Carolina blue.
Instead, it went red, carrying three U.S. House seats with it.
House delegation turns red
North Carolina Republicans picked up three seats in the state’s congressional delegation.
In the Piedmont, the state’s 13th Congressional District was handed to Republican George Holding, who won out over Democratic opponent Charles Malone by a 57-43 percent margin. The district had formerly been held by Democrat Brad Miller. The district, like others, were redrawn with more GOP-friendly boundaries after Republicans took control of the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010. Miller did not run for reelection.
In Charlotte and its nearby eastern suburbs, 13th Congressional District incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell lost out, 53-45 percent, to Republican challenger Richard Hudson. Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District was handed to Republican Mark Meadows. He carried 57 percent of the vote compared to Democratic opponent Hayden Rogers. The incumbent, Democrat Heath Shuler, did not run for reelection.
On the coast, Wilmington’s incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre barely held on to his seat representing the 7th Congressional District. He edged out Republican challenger David Rouzer with barely 500 votes — a slim margin that could change as final vote tallies are counted.
GOP wins lieutenant governor
Democrat Linda Coleman and Republican Dan Forest had run neck-and-neck for weeks in their race for lieutenant governor. The race was just as tight on Tuesday. At the end of the night, Forest topped Coleman by less than 12,000 votes.
Forest, the second son of Charlotte’s retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, will join former Charlotte mayor and Republican governor-elect Pat McCrory in a new GOP-led government in Raleigh. McCrory, who trounced Democratic opponent and incumbent Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton 55-43 percent, will become the first Republican governor to lead with an accompanying Republican-controlled legislature since the end of Reconstruction in 1870.
Ally loses congressional race
Longtime Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, lost her long-shot bid to take over Myrick’s 9th Congressional District seat on Tuesday. Republican opponent Robert Pittenger carried the district 52-46 percent.
Gay candidates lose legislative bids
Two openly lesbian candidates seeking seats in the North Carolina General Assembly lost to their Republican opponents on Tuesday. If elected, Buncombe County state House candidate Susan Wilson and New Hanover County state Senate candidate Deb Butler would have joined Guilford County’s state House Rep. Marcus Brandon as openly gay and lesbian lawmakers. Brandon, who ran unopposed, will remain the state’s sole openly gay legislator.
Mecklenburg retains LGBT-friendly majority
Though statewide elections revealed less-than-appealing results for LGBT Tar Heels, Mecklenburg County retained its LGBT-friendly majority. Three LGBT-friendly newcomers were elected to at-large positions on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. They will join Republican newcomer Matthew Ridenhour, who replaces District 5’s Neil Cooksey who recently passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
Marriage equality makes history
For the first time — at least twice in one night — voters in a state referendum have decided to legalize marriage rights for same-sex couples. Returns in Maryland and Maine show proposals there winning. National advocacy group Freedom to Marry has claimed victory. At press time, a similar proposal to extend same-sex marriage rights was winning in Washington state; a proposal to ban marriage rights was slightly ahead in Minnesota. For more up-to-date marriage equality news, visit freedomtomarry.org.
In other national LGBT news, Wisconsin U.S. House Rep. Tammy Baldwin won her election to the U.S. Senate. She will become the first openly gay or lesbian senator. For more national LGBT election news, visit GayPolitics.com.