A Republican hasn’t won a citywide race in Charlotte since 2009, but that hasn’t kept them from trying. This could be the year that changes — the trying part, I mean.
Ever since Pat McCrory left the Charlotte mayor’s office, citywide races have been a tough slog for the GOP. His final term, Republicans captured two of the four at-large seats on the City Council, and McCrory dominated the race for mayor.
He left at the right time. Since then, voting trends have gotten decidedly blue.
Republican Edwin Peacock won re-election an at-large seat on the council in 2009 before losing in 2011. The mayor’s races have fallen as follows:
- 2017: Vi Lyles (D) 59%, Kenny Smith (R) 41%
- 2015: Jennifer Roberts (D) 52%, Edwin Peacock (R) 48%
- 2013: Patrick Cannon (D) 53%, Edwin Peacock 47%
- 2011: Anthony Foxx (D) 67.5%, Scott Stone (R) 32.5%
- 2009: Anthony Foxx (D) 51.5%, John Lassiter (R) 48.5%
- 2007: Pat McCrory (R) 61%, Beverly Miller Earle (D) 39%
A race that was a 3,800 vote margin in 2015 became a 22,000-vote trouncing in 2017. There are no signs of that abating.
Meanwhile, mayoral races have gotten increasingly expensive. Smith raised more than half a million dollars by Election Day, an impressive total for this type of race.
No Republicans have been lining up a run for 2019
As candidates begin to line up for municipal elections in 2019, Longleaf sources are saying it’s probable that the Republican Party will not put forward a legitimate1 candidate for Charlotte mayor this year.
It’s unclear whether any Republicans will run for City Council at-large, but that’s unlikely as well.
Instead, Republicans are likely to focus on preserving the two district seats on City Council they currently hold after a year in which the GOP was swept off of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
Republicans also lost several Charlotte-area seats in the General Assembly.
What would it take to win city-wide again?
This is the big question. Charlotte Republicans had considered the possibility of filling every municipal race with high-quality candidates and running a citywide blitz with a powerful message.
That feels like a tough slog, and it’s not likely to happen. Until the Charlotte GOP gets more help from the very top of the ticket, don’t count on legitimate candidates to run citywide anytime soon.