Primary election nets new sheriff, among other victories and losses for local LGBTQ community
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Tuesday’s primary election saw several victories and upsets across the area, as voters cast their ballots to return some incumbents to office and elect several newcomers to important seats in the legislature and locally.
Here’s the run down of the biggest races of the night…
McFadden beats Carmichael for sheriff
One of the largest races locally was the Mecklenburg Sheriff Democratic primary. It had received national news coverage and was cast by some as a sort of referendum on the controversial 287(g) immigration detention program.
Challenger Garry McFadden, a longtime Charlotte police detective, soundly defeated incumbent Sheriff Irwin Carmichael and a third challenger, Antoine Ensley. McFadden led with 52 percent of the vote to Ensley’s 27 percent, with Carmichael coming in third with just 20 percent.
McFadden and Ensley both had promised to end the 287(g) contract between the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and federal immigration officials. Advocates say the program is unnecessary for public safety and violates residents’ due process rights.
Carmichael’s support for solitary confinement of inmates, especially juveniles, had also been a major issue in the primary race. Carmichael had also ended in-person visitation at the jail, coming under fire from some advocates for his partnership with a private video conferencing company now providing video visitation for inmates and their families.
LGBTQ-friendly newcomer Mohammed ousts Ford
Incumbent state Sen. Joel Ford lost in his District 38 primary election to newcomer Mujtaba Mohammed, with Ford receiving just 41 percent of the vote and Mohammed ending with 52 percent.
Ford had earned a negative reputation among some community advocates for several anti-LGBTQ positions. He voted personally for the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2012 and had supported other legislation seen as anti-LGBTQ.
HB2 author Bishop retains seat
In a disappointing result for the LGBTQ community, incumbent Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop won in his primary race against challenger Beth Monaghan, who had said she stepped up to run because of Bishop’s anti-LGBTQ positions. Bishop carried 71 percent of the vote to Monaghan’s 29 percent.
Bishop is the author of HB2, a law passed after Charlotte enacted LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. HB2 placed the state in the middle of a national firestorm, with several companies announcing they would not do business in the state. HB2 was later slightly modified by another bill which repealed the more stringent anti-transgender portions of the original law but restricted cities and towns from enacting new non-discrimination measures until 2020.
Newcomer will replace longtime county commissioner
Newcomer Mark Jerrell won in his Democratic primary in County Commission District 4. He held 41 percent of the vote to challenger Leigh Altman’s 37 percent. Jerrell replaces retiring Commissioner Dumont Clarke, who had endorsed Altman for the seat.
Progressive millennials fall short
Two progressive, millennial candidates had hoped to break through the incumbency advantage for Mecklenburg County Commission. Ray McKinnon, a pastor and local social justice activist, and Jamie Hildreth, a former local Democratic party official and former chair of MeckPAC, were unable to garner enough votes to oust one of three at-large county commission incumbents. All three — Commission Chair Ella Scarborough, Pat Cotham and Trevor Fuller — will return to their seats.
A Republican at-large candidate is running in the general, but it’s largely expected the three Democrats will win in the fall.
Anti-LGBTQ pastor defeats incumbent congressman
In not so good news, Mark Harris, the anti-LGBTQ firebrand pastor of First Baptist Church, won in his effort to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger. Harris carred 48.5 percent of his Republican primary vote to Pittenger’s 46.2 percent.
Harris, who also once served as president of the North Carolina Baptist Convention, has been an outspoken and leading voice against LGBTQ equality in the state and in Charlotte. Along with hate group NC Values Coalition, Harris led an effort to oppose local non-discrimination ordinances and other initiatives, often appearing at NC Values Coalition rallies alongside anti-LGBTQ leader Tami Fitzgerald and controversial street preacher Flip Benham.
Harris will face Democrat Dan McCready in the fall election. McCready handily swept pass his challenger, Christian Cano, who ran for the same district in 2016.
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