In what appears to be a resounding victory for Republicans as of press time, Republicans carry bigger races in Guilford County including state Sen. Trudy Wade’s District 27 race against Democrat Michael Garrett in a close contest, while Democrats appeared to maintain a narrow edge on the Guilford County School Board.
Democrats spent election night scratching their heads, not just at the presidential and gubernatorial race, but also local battles.
Towards the top of the ticket, Republican Congressman Mark Walker, who represents North Carolina’s District 6, appeared to handily defeat Democratic challenger Pete Glidewell with almost 60 percent of the vote as of press time. Similarly, former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis, a Democrat, was behind in the race for the state’s 13th District in the US House to Republican newcomer Ted Budd by more than 10 percent of the vote as of press time.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for incumbent and arch-conservative Trudy Wade, a former Greensboro City Council member who endorsed Donald Trump, voted for HB 2 and attempted to restructure the city council from her post representing state Senate District 27. Democratic challenger Michael Garrett, the son of Guilford County School Board member Darlene Garrett, mounted a serious campaign against Wade, but Wade appeared to ultimately prevail as of press time, with more than 53 percent of the vote with just three precincts not yet reporting.
At a watch party at 1618 Wine Lounge in Greensboro, Garrett and his supporters watched results slowly roll in with plaintive looks.
School Board member Linda Welborn, a Republican with no challenger in this election, attended Garrett’s event, saying that she voted in line with her party towards the top of the ticket but adding that she is close to Garrett and his mother, who she serves with on the school board. Welborn said she even campaigned for her colleague during the day.
Darlene Garrett spent part of the day at the Greensboro Day School precinct, where Democrats and Republicans are represented almost equally, 1,076 to 1,010 respectively. At 1618, she said turnout at the precinct remained slow. She ultimately won her seat, defeating Republican challenger Mary Catherine Sauer.
Several local races for the General Assembly were uncontested, including Republicans —state Sen. Phil Berger of Eden and state Reps. John Faircloth of High Point and John Blust of Greensboro — and Democrats — Reps. Pricey Harrison and newcomer Amos Quick of Greensboro and Rep. Cecil Brockman of High Point. Other contests might as well have been uncontested, as Democratic state Sen. Gladys Robinson and Republican state Rep. Jon Hardister sailed to easy re-election victories.
Things grew a little more interesting further down the ballot in two contested races for the Guilford County Commission. In the rural District 4, covering the eastern part of the county, Democratic challenger and former commissioner Kirk Perkins apparently lost against incumbent conservative Alan Branson, who bested Perkins in a matchup last go-round. Over in District 6, represented by Republican Hank Henning of High Point, Democratic candidate Rick Forrester lost a very close contest, receiving 16,210 votes to Henning’s 16,967 with all precincts in the district reporting.
Forrester spent part of Election Day at Smith Grove Baptist Church in Colfax, the biggest precinct in the county and one that leans Republican but one that is full of unaffiliated voters. Forrester said he hoped to cut into Henning’s strong support the incumbent received in the precinct last time around. He managed to bring in almost 39 percent of the vote, a good showing considering Republicans outnumber Democrats there almost 2 to 1. There are more unaffiliated voters in the precinct than Democrats, a bigger total number of independent voters than any precinct in Guilford County besides the one around the UNCG polling place.
Loren Bailey, an independent voter in the Smith Grove Baptist precinct, said she voted mostly for Democrats, despite supporting Republican in state races in 2012.
“It’s mostly the social climate in the state that I think we have to change,” she said.
That’s why she voted for Michael Garrett over Trudy Wade in for state Senate, though she didn’t speak to the county commission race directly.
Most voters leaving the polling place on Tuesday polled by TCB said they voted in line with their party registration all the way down the ticket.
But the real local action remained in several school board races. Thanks to redistricting and a decision from the General Assembly making the contests partisan and drop the number of seats, the new Guilford County School Board was bound to look considerably different than its current makeup, with several incumbents not running. Amos Quick’s jump up to the state House and former Greensboro City Council member Dianne Bellamy-Small’s successful attempt to primary incumbent and fellow Democrat Keith McCullough added to the guaranteed shift on the school board, and she faced no opponent in the general election.
Former school board member Anita Sharpe, a Republican, appeared to win against incumbent Democrat Jeff Belton in District 2 as of press time, while Democrat Darlene Garrett appeared to hold on with one precinct remaining at press time with almost 1,000 votes above Republican Mary Catherine Sauer.
Only newcomers competed in Districts 3, 6 and 7. A race in District 3 was too close to call as of press time, but it appeared that Republican Wes Cashwell would carry District 6 while Democrat Byron Gladden would take the District 7 seat.
Gladden posted a campaign worker at Reid Memorial CME Church in east Greensboro — the precinct with the most Democratic voters in the county — for all of Election Day, joining the effort in person around 3 p.m.
Board Chairman and lawyer Alan Duncan, a Democrat, prevailed over Republican Alan Hawkes in the lone at large race.
In all, that means the new Guilford County School Board will likely consist of four Republicans and five Democrats, including Bellamy-Small in District 1 and unchallenged incumbents Linda Welborn, a Republican in District 4, and Deena Hayes-Greene, a Democrat in District 8. It’s difficult to conclude exactly what the new composition of the board will mean going forward given that it’s the first partisan race for the body, but it is possible that the slim Democratic majority will depart from the relatively liberal positioning of the current board, which has repeatedly gone to battle against the right-wing General Assembly. But again, all results were not in as of press time.