NC Mayors Preview & Liveblog

Results: News & Observer

9:35 ET- It appears most of the vote is in. We may update again later if something significant changes, but here are the current results… pretty bad night for Republicans and center-right candidates overall.
Raleigh: McFarlane (I) 48 Francis (D) 38
Greensboro: Vaughan (D) 61 Moffatt (D) 22
Durham: Schewel (D) 50 Ali (D) 31
Fayetteville: Colvin (D) 43 Robertson (R) 33

9:10 ET- Legislative primaries: McClure (R) has won in FL-LD-58, and Vargas (D) has won in MA-LD-3rd Essex.

8:55 ET- Results reporting has slowed to a crawl, but so far no substantive changes in any of the races.

8:34 ET – Looks like McFarlane will finish just below the 50% needed to win outright; she’s at 48-38 over Francis. Schewel and Ali are advancing with 52 and 29 in Durham, and Vaughan and Moffett (D) will likely advance in Greensboro as they are at 59 and 26 respectively. Colvin is still (surprisingly) in the overall lead in Fayetteville, leading Robertson (R) 45-32.

7:50 ET- Colvin (D) is dominating the absentee vote in Fayetteville with 54%. Schewel (D) is at 52% in Durham, Vaughan (D) is on course for an uneventful win with 62% in Greensboro, and McFarlane (I) is just below the 50% mark needed to win outright with 49.3%.

7:30 ET- Polls have now closed across North Carolina.

7:20 ET- FL-LD-44 has been called for Olszweski (R), 56-44.

Four cities in North Carolina have mayoral elections today. Polls close at 7:30 ET; we will have a brief liveblog in this thread tonight. There are also elections in Liberia and a couple legislative specials in Florida and Massachusetts.

Raleigh-Mayor: The biggest mayoral election today is in Raleigh. The state capital has a population of 450K which breaks down as 55% White, 30% Black, and 10% Hispanic. It has a PVI of D+11 (2008), though that has likely shifted well to the left over the last decade. The city is relatively diverse socioeconomically, with white liberals on the west side, upscale white moderates in the northern part of the city, and a mixture of lower and middle-income blacks on the east side. Unlike the other three races today, Raleigh’s election uses Louisiana Rules Top Two, so 50% is enough to win outright. Incumbent Spanky Nancy McFarlane (I) is seeking a fourth two-year term. McFarlane is a moderate, business-friendly liberal who has generally had the support of the Dem establishment. She has been quite popular as mayor and has generally cruised to her first two re-elections over token GOP opposition. However, Raleigh has been shifting strongly left in recent years with an influx of minorities and upscale liberals. And this year, McFarlane is facing a much more serious challenge, from her left rather than right. Attorney Charles Francis (D) is running to McFarlane’s left, striking SJW notes in contrast to McFarlane’s business liberalism. This year, Francis has the official endorsement of the Wake County Democratic Party, which has previously gone to McFarlane. Francis has also outraised the incumbent, and has backing from some big names in the area’s Democratic establishment (including the heads of liberal polling firm PPP). Many more moderate Dems are still backing McFarlane, but observers generally do consider Francis likely to be a significant threat to the incumbent. A third candidate, mortgage broker and 2012 county commission candidate Paul Fitts (R), has some GOP support but isn’t running a particularly serious campaign. CW is that he is likely to come in third, but there is a small chance he could come in second on GOP votes. Generally, CW is that McFarlane will come in first but be held below 50% and head to a runoff with Francis; McFarlane could garner GOP support in the second round and will probably still be favored. However, there are also chances for McFarlane to overperform on name rec and her prior popularity and wrap things up today, or conversely for high liberal turnout to propel Francis to a first-place finish.

Greensboro-Mayor: Greensboro has a population of 290K that breaks down as roughly 45% White, 40% Black, and 10% Hispanic; the south and east sides are mostly black while the northwest part of the city is mostly upscale whites. It has a PVI of D+16 (2008). Three candidates are running for Mayor, two Democrats and one Republican, in a California Rules Top Two format; the top two will advance even if one passes 50%. Incumbent Nancy Vaughan (D) is seeking her third two-year term. Vaughan is a mainstream white liberal who has been relatively popular in her tenure. This year, she has two opponents, one from the left and one from the right, but both are little-known political novices. Businessman John Brown (R) has significant Republican establishment support and could make the runoff by garnering votes among the third or so of Greensboro’s voters that are right-of-center. However, Brown is a staunch conservative and has little crossover appeal to Dems, meaning he will probably advance but have little shot next month. A third candidate, pastor Diane Moffett (D), is also somewhat serious. Moffett is the only black candidate in the race and running slightly to the left of Vaughan. However, she doesn’t have much establishment support, and thus looks like a long-shot to beat out Brown for second. If she does, she will likely face a similarly uphill climb against Vaughan. Regardless of her general election rival, Vaughan is likely to pass 50% today and be the clear favorite in the November general election.

Durham-Mayor: The college town of Durham has a population of 260K, which breaks down as roughly 40% each White and Black and 15% Hispanic. Durham is socioeconomically divided east-west; the east side is largely poor blacks, while the west side is mostly upscale white liberals, with Duke as its main economic driver. Both groups are solidly Democratic; the city has a PVI of D+27 (2008). The open-seat race this year is in a California-Rules Top Two format, though it is unlikely to matter as no member of the 6-way field is in strong position to top 50%. Ex-councilman and Airport board member Farad Ali (D) is the most prominent black candidate. Ali is a business-friendly black establishment liberal in the mold of the outgoing incumbent, and seems to have the most support from the city’s establishment. Ali’s main rival, councilman Steve Schewel (D), is the only white candidate in the race and running to Ali’s left. Schewel is a fairly typical upscale white progressive who founded the city’s alternative newspaper before entering politics. But he isn’t the farthest-left candidate in the field; that would be musician Pierce Freelon (D). Freelon is a staunch left-winger, spouting all sorts of SJW priorities and declaring intersectionality the basis of his campaign. Being both black and left-wing, Freelon seems likely to draw significant numbers of votes from both Ali and Schewel. It is possible that Freelon boxes out one of the two top candidates, but he seems more likely than not to finish third. Three other Some Dudes seem less serious. Schewel and Ali advancing is thought to be the most likely outcome, but Freelon could have a chance to box one of them out. A general election between Ali and Schewel is likely to be highly competitive, though either will probably be favored over Freelon should he advance.

Fayetteville-Mayor: The race with the biggest partisan implications is in Fayetteville. It has a population of 200K, which breaks down as 45% White, 40% Black, and 10% Hispanic; however, a significant part of that population is ultra-low-turnout active duty Fort Bragg soldiers. The city has a PVI of D+10 (2008). Incumbent Nat Robertson (R) is seeking a third two-year term in this year’s California-Rules Top two race. Robertson, a moderate conservative, has won two tough races and seems to be reasonably popular. However, Fayetteville is a Democratic and fairly inelastic city, and Robertson seems likely to get a tough challenge once again this time, as two sitting city councilors are seeking the seat. Robertson looks likely to finish a clear first, and may clear 50%. As there isn’t a huge amount of ideological daylight between his rivals, Robertson’s score is an important thing to watch, as it may be predictive of his November vote share. Councilmen Mitch Colvin (D) and Kirk DeViere (D) are seeking the chance to take on Robertson. Colvin, the council’s president, is a mainstream black establishment liberal, and has the stronger connections to the local establishment. DeViere, a white first-term councilman and veteran, is a moderate liberal who has been considered a rising star. There doesn’t seem to be a clear favorite between the two, and either could have the chance to move on to the general. Simply because the Democrats voting are likely to be black-majority, I’d peg Colvin as a slight front-runner, but DeViere could easily prevail. A non-serious Some Dude is also running. Odds are regardless of who comes in second, Colvin and DeViere’s vote shares will sum near-totally, so today’s vote shares can be thought of as also a good straw poll for the November real thing.

Legislative Specials: There is one general election and three primaries this week, two in Florida and two in Massachusetts. The lone general is for FL-LD-44, an R-held D+2 (2016) seat covering southwest Orlando suburbs between Disney World and the Florida’s Turnpike. Ex-Winter Garden councilman Bobby Olszewski (R) is facing off with manager Eddy Dominguez (D), who entered the race as a replacement nominee just three weeks ago. Because Democrats pulled a late candidate switch, Dominguez is not on the ballot – instead, in a “punch Foley for Joe” type situation, Dominguez will get the votes that are cast for the name of prior nominee Paul Chandler. Because of Dominguez’s late start and Olszewski’s strong campaign, Olszewski is generally considered the favorite. However, this year, in a seat this purple, no Democrat can be counted out, and strong liberal turnout could allow Dominguez to surprise. The Florida primary is for FL-LD-58, an R+6 (2016) seat covering eastern Tampa suburbs in northeast Hillsborough County from Plant City to Thonotosassa. The GOP primary is hotly contested, between a pair of businesspeople, Lawrence McClure (R) and Yvonne Fry (R). Both have advantages: McClure has outraised Fry and has the NRA endorsement, while Fry is backed by the outgoing incumbent and has a big endorsement from AG Pam Bondi (R). The race has become nasty, but overall McClure looks like a slight favorite. The primary winner will face 2016 nominee Jose Vasquez-Figueroa (D) in a December general. MA-LD-1st Berkshire is a D+17 (2016) rural seat around Williamstown and North Adams at the northwest corner of the state. Ex-North Adams Mayor John Barrett (D), North Adams councilwoman Lisa Blackmer (D), Kevin Towle (D), a staffer to the late previous Rep., and Stephanie Bosley (D), daughter of a retired prior Rep., are all in the race; there is no clear favorite and any of the four could win. The primary winner will be a prohibitive favorite over 2016 State Senate nominee Christine Canning (R) in the general. Finally, MA-LD-3rd Essex is a D+7 (2016) seat covering most of Haverhill in the Merrimack valley. Two Democrats are facing off. Liberal Haverhill councilman Andy Vargas (D), a 24-year old Dominican immigrant, has more establishment support and seems a slight favorite over school board member Paul Magliocchetti (D), a Conservadem who took 16% as an Indie in a 2012 State Senate run, but an upset may be possible. The winner will face school board member and 2012/14 State Senate nominee Shaun Toohey (R) in a November general.

Liberia: The west African nation of Liberia is the first of 8 nations holding elections this month. Liberia is a largely-Christian nation of 4.6M in the southern part of West Africa, roughly the size of Ohio in area. Liberia was founded (and run for much of the 19th and 20th centuries) by black immigrants from the US and their descendants. It has long retained close ties with America; however, a series of civil wars, coups, and dictatorships ravaged the country from 1980 to 2005. Since then Liberia has gradually become a relatively free democracy, albeit one with an immature civil society and rampant extreme poverty (and being the center of the Ebola outbreak didn’t help either). Like most third-world countries, pols’ ideologies are poorly-defined, and politics is more based on personalities and clan ties than issue positions. This year, there are six major candidates for the presidency, but two front-runners. CW is that neither will clear 50% and they will head on to a runoff. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is standing down this year; CW is that her Vice President, Joseph Boakai, is likely to head to a runoff with former soccer star and current Senator George Weah, who lost the first modern free election to Johnson-Sirleaf in 2005. Four other candidates, former Senator and 2011 candidate Charles Brumskine, Senator and former guerilla fighter Prince Johnson, former local mayor Benoni Urey, and former Coca-Cola executive Alex Cummings, could each potentially snag a runoff spot.

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  • MosheM October 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm


    29, M, R, NY-10

  • MosheM October 10, 2017 at 2:05 pm


    GOP share of early/absentee vote is over 50% right now, was under 40% in 2016. This electorate much more GOP, no upset coming

    29, M, R, NY-10

  • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Asheville also has a primary today. While it doesn’t have any meaningful D/R implications it may be an interesting test of the Bernie Bro Party. An “independent socialist” Martin Ramsey is challenging the incumbent mayor. Ramsey received 15% in 2013 to 25% for the R and 60% for the current D mayor Esther Manheimer. The ballot is nonpartisan but there’s no R in any case, though the other active candidate is a somewhat less liberal independent (a fourth liberal is also on the ballot but suspended his campaign for lack of funds).

    From what I gather, the Bernie Bro Party seems to have coalesced around three candidates for city council: Kim Roney (endorsed by Ramsey), Dee Williams (endorsed by Asheville Democratic Socialists), and Sheneika Smith (BLM). There are two incumbent council members on the ballot: Cecil Bothwell and Gwen Wisler. Bothwell’s also a Bernie Bro but his numbers may be interesting as he left the D Party after HRC got the nomination last year and rejoined after the Nov election. For whatever reason the more radical Bernie Bros think he’s a sellout anyhow. Voters pick 3 candidates and the top 6 candidates in the primary move on to the Nov ballot. The two incumbents are all but certain as is the one GOP-endorsed candidate, Pratik Bhakta. How many votes go to the other three spots and who takes them will be the interesting part.

    Dem NC-11

    • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      You really think the Republican will make it on to the council? Would be a change from years past.

      R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

      • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        No, there’s virtually zero chance of that. I think he’ll make it onto the general election ballot. The primary will narrow the options down to six and then three council members will be elected in Nov.

        Dem NC-11

        • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm


          R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

          • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm

            It’s possible that Bhakta might slip through if the Nov vote is fractured enough on the left (i.e., the other 5 GE candidates). It’s also possible that he doesn’t make it to the general election at all if the liberal vote somehow ends up near evenly split between two blocs of three candidates each. Either result would be mildly interesting. There are 12 candidates on the primary ballot and voters mark up to three in both the primary and the general. If Bhakta doesn’t get to the GE it will obviously be a new low for the Asheville GOP. With 11 other primary candidates it would surprise me if Bhakta doesn’t make it through today, but it would be a bigger surprise if the 70%+ D vote in Nov is split up enough for him to actually make it on to the council.

            Dem NC-11

            • Left Coast Libertarian October 10, 2017 at 8:56 pm

              Does Asheville have districts? If they don’t, how is that legal? I suppose in a city that’s 70% Democratic no Democrat is going to sue but how is it not a 14th Amendment violation?

              • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 9:20 pm

                Well, I’m pretty sure you can’t draw a city council district with an AA majority and that’s usually the basis for a Section 2 challenge to at-large voting. Asheville is just 13% AA and the two main concentrations of AA voters are just west of downtown and southeast of downtown, with others scattered north and northeast. Also, in recent years there’s little evidence that Asheville voters have a problem voting for minority candidates. Asheville had an AA mayor from 2005-2013.

                The state legislature wants to impose council districts but as far as the city has veered to the left I rather doubt it’ll make a difference. The top three tonight are an Indian guy whose raison d’être is stopping development, the BLM activist who wants to get rid of the Vance Memorial (Vance was NC’s Confederate governor), and the incumbent councilwoman who doesn’t want to permit vacation rentals (the atheist Bernie Bro does, which is why his fellow Bernie Bros have turned on him). She’s barely ahead of the Socialist Green who may very well win in November. Meanwhile, the sole Republican is in 10th place. Sad!

                Dem NC-11

              • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 9:34 pm

                And the atheist Bernie Bro has been kicked to the curb. He finished in 7th place. I guess that’s what happens when you piss off the #resistance by hating on HRC and then sell out to Airbnb! I’m guessing the Socialist Green (who is an AA woman) will pick up most of his votes in the next round. I also suspect that I should’ve included the Indian anti-development dude (who wants to save trailer parks so that illegal immigrants have a cheap place to live) in the Bernie Bro Party shortlist above.

                Dem NC-11

                • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 9:49 pm

                  Cecil Bothwell isn’t left wing enough for Asheville. What a place.

                  R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

                  • roguemapper October 10, 2017 at 10:00 pm

                    He was edged out of the final spot by a bartender at The Mothlight in West Asheville who is running to give a voice to the proletariat!

                    Dem NC-11

  • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I’ll be a little surprised if McFarlane isn’t ahead today. She’d probably lose with a midterm or presidential electorate, but her base of wealthy liberals and moderates will turn out heavily compared to the rest of the city in an off-year election. We’ll also see 1) if a center-right independent, Stacy Miller, can make it onto one of the at-large council positions, and (2) if a NIMBY/liberal Indy will be able to hold off a former incumbent Indy (former GOP) councilman in the northeastern part of the city and finally (3) if a pro-development indy will hold off a NIMBY Democrat in the western district. I don’t have a good feel for these races but we’ll see.

    R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

    • segmentation_fault October 10, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      I didn’t know Stacy was considered center-right, seeing as he was endorsed by the N&O. I voted for him.

      Municipal races are very hard to call. I think most people in 2015 thought Crowder was a vulnerable incumbent but didn’t see Odom or Weeks losing. So it would not surprise me if Charles Francis wins but also would not surprise me if McFarlane wins by 30 points. Also would not surprise me if Bonner Gaylord lost since the 2015 North Raleigh results pointed to NIMBYism being very strong there.

      En Marche!

      • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        Miller was endorsed by the Wake GOP-in fairness he was endorsed by a lot of people because he’s well qualified and well respected. I’d be thrilled if Russ Stephenson lost but he has a devoted fan base in the “neighborhoods” crowd.
        Bonner is a great councilman by my standards so I unfortunately could see him losing to the D-endorsed NIMBY. I don’t think Odom wins this year.

        R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

        • segmentation_fault October 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm

          NIMBYs are by definition very angry and motivated and in low-turnout municipal elections that gives them a lot of power.

          En Marche!

        • The Zenome Project October 10, 2017 at 11:06 pm

          Bonner just held Mendell below 50%, so a runoff is coming! Good luck to him, I happily casted my vote for him today and will do the same a month from now.

          • Carolingian October 11, 2017 at 12:09 am

            49.96% to be exact for Mendell. 🙂 He needs to spend more time outside the Beltline. Would have voted for him, but in District D with Crowder pretty much unopposed.

            21, NC-4, Ex-R

            • The Zenome Project October 11, 2017 at 12:16 am

              34-vote margin! I need to rub it in some more to my folks about how much more local elections matter than the presidential race. Center-righty Stacy Miller also made the runoff against Stewart, so he still has a shot at a seat, too!

  • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Early vote is uniformly terrible across the board for all centrist and center right candidates. McFarlane will probably barely clear 50, and that’s the only good news for pro-business candidates anywhere.

    R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

    • segmentation_fault October 10, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Why is it 50% in Raleigh but 40% in other NC races?

      En Marche!

      • GOPTarHeel October 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm

        municipal non-partisan races have different rules.

        R/NC. Waiting for a non-ossified establishment or sane populists. Not optimistic.

    • The Zenome Project October 10, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      There is one good bit of news in my particular district in Raleigh for centrist representation: pro-business center-lefty Bonner Gaylord is holding the NIMBY moonbat Stef Mendell below 50% (49.5% with one precinct to count), meaning that it’s close to a runoff situation.

  • shamlet October 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    I’m disappointed nobody’s commented on my Haverhill vid yet…

    R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

  • krazen1211 October 10, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    So this FL race counts as an overperformance for R’s right? Among the 4 close states in 2016 (FL, WI, MI, PA), FL might be our best bet.

    • californianintexas October 10, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      Yes it does seem like FL might tilt R in the next few cycles as the retiree demographic shifts from the left-leaning Greatest Generation, who came of age under FDR, to the right-leaning Silent Generation, who came of age under Truman and Eisenhower. It’s too early to tell how big an impact Puerto Ricans will have on the vote there.

      Based on my limited knowledge of the area, the gap seems easier to close in WI and MI, and if Democrats can improve in Scranton and in some parts of the southeast, then they can win PA again too.

      34, Female, Libertarian, UT-02 (hometown CA-31),

      • Carolingian October 11, 2017 at 12:11 am

        I think FL will always be a swing state, all of the different demographic trends probably balance each other out.

        21, NC-4, Ex-R

    • The Zenome Project October 10, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      It’s the policy that matters, not the demographics. There’s plenty of what I call “soft leftists”, especially among those cherished identity groups that vote Democrat out of tradition, that can be enticed to vote for Rs in the future, especially if they can get smart and start pushing a strong school choice and “end the War on Drugs” style of agenda.

  • MosheM October 11, 2017 at 12:12 am

    29, M, R, NY-10

  • Carolingian October 11, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Late update of Cary Town Council races. Better news for center-right with 25 year incumbent Jack Smith (R) winning over far-left Presting (D). Incumbents Robinson (R) and Yerha (I-centrist) both easily win.

    21, NC-4, Ex-R

    • The Zenome Project October 11, 2017 at 12:23 am

      The right doesn’t lack suburban support despite what the left may so pompously stereotype about the “educated vote”. Much of the transplant vote in Cary (not the majority, but a good portion of them) are conservative northern transplants from high-tax places like Philly, NJ, NY, CT, and MA. Combine that with conservative-leaning natives and you have a solid, politically active coalition to tap into.

  • andrew_1918 October 11, 2017 at 4:25 am

    “Swung away from Pres ’16 numbers (D) 51.21% – (R) 45.05% back to 2012 Pres numbers – (D) 45.77% (R) 53.48%”


    • Greyhound October 11, 2017 at 4:55 am

      Odd to see it here though–Isn’t this a part of Florida with some rapidly changing demographics?

      R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

      • OGGoldy October 11, 2017 at 7:15 am

        Orlando is diversifying, though as we’ve seen in other special elections, 2012 Obama-Romney seems to be a better indicator of 2017 results than 2016 Trump-Clinton. In New Hampshire, those heavily Trump districts that flipped were largely carried by Obama 4 years earlier.

        And it’s tough to weigh how not appearing on the ballot negatively affected the D candidate. There aren’t a bunch if races we have to look back on, but the limited information we have seems to point to having a negative effect on the person not on the ballot, though not enough to make up for the difference we saw in Florida, maybe a point or two, not 6. So even if the ballot was printed differently, the end result would have been the same. 3 weeks just isn’t long enough to run any political campaign at all.

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