News

Democrats saw gains in suburban, typically Republican areas

Last week we wrote about the historic sweep of Black sheriff’s candidates in (and beyond) the state’s seven largest counties.

This week Jordan Green of Triad City Beat has a good piece about from where the votes in two of those counties – Guilford and Forsyth – seem to have come. From the piece:

As a gauge of the shift in voter sentiment, Democrat Danny Rogers made up 8.7 points in his rematch with Republican BJ Barnes in the Guilford County sheriff’s race, compared to his previous bid in 2014. And in the at-large race for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, where voters can select up to three candidates, the Democratic contenders went from an aggregate of 49.5 percent of the vote in 2014 to 55.6 percent this year.

Victorious Democrats in both counties saw some of their most dramatic gains in predominantly white, Republican-leaning precincts in the suburbs. Rogers more than doubled his votes — from 489 to 1,108 in SDRI, a sprawling precinct at the western end of Guilford County that includes the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. And in a handful of precincts around Lewisville and Clemmons at the west end of Forsyth County, Democrat candidates increased their aggregate vote counts by upwards of 50 percent.

Take the time to read the whole piece, which gets into some of the possible roots of this change.

 

News

FBI: Hate crimes in NC up 12 percent

Yesterday, we wrote about Russell Walker – a Republican candidate for N.C. House District 48 who got 8,500 votes in last week’s election despite declaring “God is a racist” and that Jews are Satanic.

There has been an understandable amount of “Eh, who cares?” in reaction to Walker’s showing.

Sure, he took 37 percent of his district – and carried about a half a dozen precincts. But ultimately he lost – and to a Black minister. The N.C. GOP condemned and disowned him, despite his winning a Republican primary.

So why does it matter?

The answer is in an FBI report released Tuesday.

The report, the bureau’s annual look at hate crime statistics, found hate crimes – those motivated by race, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability – up 17 percent nationally.

In North Carolina? They’re up 12 percent.

There were 166 known hate crimes in North Carolina in 2017, according the bureau. That’s up from 148 in 2016.

In that environment it’s worth asking how we got to a point where open white supremacists are running – and winning primaries, at least – all over the country.

News

“God is a racist” candidate got more than 8,500 votes

You may remember Russell Walker, the Republican candidate for the N.C. House in District 48 (which includes Scotland and Hoke counties).

He became a bit infamous in the run-up to last week’s election when it emerged he had written that “God is a racist and a white supremacist,” that “someone or group has to be supreme and that group is the whites of the world” and that Jews are descended from Satan.

His rhetoric was so hateful that he state Republican party disowned him. The party said he may have won with 65 percent in a low-turnout GOP primary but didn’t represent the party’s values.

In an irony that had to be particularly stinging for Walker, he lost last week to Garland Pierce – a Black minister. The result didn’t surprise many people – but the numbers Walker put up may.

Despite viral Internet infamy, cringing coverage of the race in the media and a condemnation from both the Southern Poverty Law Center and his own party, Walker got 8,586 votes according complete but unofficial results.

That should be shocking. Unfortunately, Walker is just one of a staggering number of white supremacists who decided this year was ripe for them to get into politics.

News

To concede or not concede? Wade reaction to loss echoes history

When Michael Garrett upset State Senator Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) in last week’s election, it was by a fairly slim margin – less than a full percentage point, just 763 votes in complete but unofficial results.

Those familiar with Wade’s career were immediately reminded of Wade’s last narrow loss – and wondered how she would respond to this one.

Sen. Trudy Wade (Photo: NC General Assembly)

Back in 2004 Wade narrowly lost her seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to Democrat John Parks. The margin: just 242 votes. The seat was the first Wade ever held – one she won after changing her party affiliation to Republican after several failed attempts as a Democrat.

She contested the election, holding onto the seat for another 18 months as she appealed her case all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The court ultimately dismissed Wade’s case, but the extended battle denied Parks a substantial portion of his first term.

Fears of history repeating seemed assuaged last week, when Wade conceded the election in a statement to local TV news station Fox 8:

“It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Guilford County for the last six years. I appreciate the support and votes I received during the campaign. I am proud of the accomplishments that have been made in the North Carolina Legislature over my three terms.

“I look forward to returning to full time work with my four legged friends.”

Garret responded with a statement that thanked Wade for her service:

“I remain humbled and honored that the people of the 27th District have entrusted me with their voice in the state Senate. This was a spirited campaign about important issues facing our families and communities, from investing in our public schools and teachers to making healthcare more accessible and affordable. I am ready to get to work. I want to thank Senator Trudy Wade for her service to Guilford County and the State of North Carolina. Public service is not an easy endeavor and it is not done without sacrifice, and I wish her the best.”

Then, in a statement to a different TV news station, Wade denied she was conceding and called Garrett a liar.

It’s not yet clear whether Wade will accept the final canvassing of the votes or if this loss, like Wade’s last, could be long and hard fought.

News

Deadline extended for Silent Sam proposal

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees will get some extra time to announce its plans for the toppled Silent Sam statue.

In August, after protesters toppled the Confederate monument, the board gave the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt until Nov. 15 to come up with a detailed plan for the statue.

The UNC Board of Governors approved an extension of the Nov. 15 deadline Friday. Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said his board expects to hear the plan at their Dec. 14 meeting.

“It’s a lot more complex than I think any of us thought,” Smith said.

The trustees requested more time to vet security for the several plans they’re still considering, said UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chairman Haywood Cochrane.

“We want to make sure the security is right,” Cochrane told Policy Watch Friday. “But I would say we are pretty close. We’ve had a lot of good input, a lot of good ideas in listening sessions. I think we’re very close.”

Smith said the Board of Governors understands and wants to be sure that whatever the proposal, it is the right one for this thorny issue.

Asked whether the Board of Governors would be the final word on the plan for the statue or would need state approval, Smith said the board isn’t quite sure.

UNC Attorney Tom Shanahan said that will likely depend on the details of the plan.