Could a ‘white’ Charlotte mayoral candidate’s appeal to race actually work?

Kimberley Barnette is running in the Republican primary of the Charlotte mayoral race

Charlotte mayoral candidate Kimberley Paige Barnette has international made headlines after she promoted herself as white and against LGBTQ rights on her Facebook page.

It was the type of blatant attempt at appealing to race that even President Donald Trump might balk at, although his dog whistles to bigots of all types was a key part of his ultimately successful campaign for the highest office in the land.

“REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL,” Barnette wrote on her Facebook page, as well as saying she is against nondiscrimination ordinances giving rights to the LGBTQ community, seeming to believe it could lead to men spying on women in bathrooms.

Kimberley Barnette charlotte mayor

Her appeals to race drew criticism from the chairman of the North Carolina Republican party, who called her a “fringe candidate.”

Her opponent in the Republican primary, Kenny Smith, a member of city council, told Fox 46 that she is likely to garner “less than one percent of the vote.”

- - - advertisement - - -

Gary Dunn is also running in the Republican primary, and he too criticized Barnette’s appeal to race.

Smith, who is the only one of the three with prior experience as an elected official, and who is expected to win the Republican primary, appeared quick to see Barnette in his rear view mirror and move on to other topics.

City council member LaWana Mayfield isn’t so sanguine about the whole affair, however, writing on Twitter that it can’t be taken for granted that she won’t win. After all, she noted, how many people doubted Trump could win, before he did just that?

A commenter on our original story also showed concern, writing:

“We are going to see a lot more people like this person running for office. We have to make decisions are we going to step up and have candidates to oppose these people, if we don’t they will win.

“Don’t expect someone else to run, look toward yourself and decide to run.”

One thing is for certain, the former magistrate just went from a complete unknown to somebody who is suddenly on a lot of people’s radar, and it might just be gaining her some positive attention along with all the negative feedback.

- - - advertisement - - -

Our admittedly not at all scientific online poll asking “Who do you support in the Charlotte mayoral race?” has shown a sudden uptick in voting for Barnette.

Before we published the story about her advertising herself based on race and anti-LGBTQ sentiment, she had one or two votes. Now, at time of writing, she has picked up 76, out of a total of just over 700, landing her at 11 percent. That’s good enough to put her in third, out of a crowded field of eight candidates.

She has now passed Smith, at 9 percent, and is gaining on Democrat Vi Lyles, who has 16 percent of the vote. Mayor Jennifer Roberts remains at the top spot with 55 percent.

While it remains unlikely that Barnette will win the Republican primary, and even less likely that she could become Charlotte’s next mayor, especially considering registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans two to one in this city, we should still take pause.

It is easy, and feels nice, to say that appealing to the worst in humankind won’t get you into office, but it is clearly not true.

I still wouldn’t bet on us having to say, “Mayor Barnette,” but then, who can be sure anymore? We’ve all seen crazier things happen.

Donald Trump is president.


Editor’s Note: Early voting in the Charlotte mayoral primary ends Sept. 9, and election day is Sept. 12. Read our Charlotte mayoral primary preview for more.

- - - advertisement - - -

Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.