CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republican Mecklenburg County Commission at-large candidate Wayne Powers came in sixth in his seven-way race on Tuesday. Three Democrats won the at-large contests. On Wednesday, Powers thanked his supporters and struck out to remind them of the tough positions he took along the campaign trail.
Powers had been outspoken on a variety of LGBT equality issues, including his opposition to an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment and his support of domestic partner benefits for Charlotte city employees and their same-sex partners. Throughout the campaign, he said he feared losing some conservative votes for his stances. Nonetheless, he says he never backed down.
On Wednesday, Powers thanked his supporters on Facebook and in a message to media. He sent well-wishes to newly-elected county commissioners.
“Congratulations to all whose campaigns were successful in this race and in other races, along with all who put themselves on the line as candidates for public service, including my fellow Republicans James Peterson and Michael Hobbs, and all who supported and worked for those noble efforts,” Powers wrote. “I wish only the very best for our newly elected County Commission. I’ve called and congratulated each of my former opponents, and hope they succeed in healing our divisions, fixing the myriad of serious problems facing our community, and in representing our people honestly and well.”
Powers also outlined the several accomplishments he saw his campaign making in the past several months.
Powers had created some stir when he criticized the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, or MeckPAC, for what he called “overt partisanship.” The group did not endorse him in the general election. He also spoke out forcefully after local leader and candidates, both Republican and Democratic, seemed to be cozying up to hate group leaders.
“We stood tall and spoke out loudly,” Powers wrote, “against…the hypocrisy of political organizations who masquerade as ‘non-partisan’ when they clearly are not — and we stood tall and spoke out loudly against bigotry and intolerance wherever they were to be found — whether in the divisive ranting of Louis Farrakhan and those candidates of the other party who refused to distance themselves from his well-documented message of hate, or in a candidate of my own party who thought it somehow acceptable to post thousands of disgusting messages on white supremacist websites.”
Powers owns and runs an independent tea company. He was also a regular radio host and guest on Charlotte’s WBT news-talk station, where he often challenged the anti-gay rhetoric and positions of leaders in his own party. He gave up his radio gig when he announced his run for county commission.
As for post-election plans, Powers said he isn’t sure what he’ll do. “I haven’t had a moment or the mental or emotional clarity to even give that a thought yet,” he said. “I’m disappointed that I was unable to generate enough bipartisan support to compensate for what most analysts see as the punishment I received from the small but powerful unenlightened wing of my own party, in ‘payback’ for my consistent and vocal support for inclusiveness and equality for all — including the LGBT members of our community.”
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[Ed. Note — This writer served a brief term as a volunteer member of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee’s steering committee during his hiatus from the newspaper this past spring. He no longer serves on the organization’s committee and had no special or prior knowledge of the organization’s general election endorsements or endorsement process.]