For the first time in more than a decade, Mecklenburg voters may get a second chance to pick nominees for two county commissioner races.
On Wednesday, Democrat Marc Gustafson said he had not decided whether to ask for a runoff election with Trevor Fuller for the last spot on the Democratic at-large commissioners slate.
Meanwhile, Republican Sarah Cherne said she has already reached out to county election officials about a runoff with Matthew Ridenhour in the District 5 Republican primary. But Cherne said she was told shed have to wait until after primary results are certified next Tuesday.
Mecklenburg Elections Director Michael Dickerson said candidates have until noon on May 17 to request a second primary. The runoff election would take place July 17.
North Carolina law requires primary candidates to receive a substantial plurality of votes in order to advance to the general election. It usually means a person must win 40 percent, plus one, of the overall votes cast in a race.
But the rules are a bit more complex in cases like the at-large primary where more than one candidate advances. There, the plurality is defined as the total number of votes cast, divided by the number of seats sought, multiplied by 40 percent. In short, an at-large candidate needed to receive at least 13.3 percent of the vote to move on to November.
Only two Democrats, Kim Ratliff (15.87 percent) and Pat Cotham (14.88 percent), met the threshold based on complete, but unofficial, results from Tuesdays primary. Fuller received 11.57 percent of votes and Gustafson won 11.18 percent, according to the unofficial tally.
Elections records show the last time a runoff occurred between Mecklenburg commissioner candidates was in 1996. Back then, Republicans Bill Davis and Larry Swaringen faced off for the partys final at-large nomination.
The top three at-large vote-getters among the Democrats will face Republicans Michael Hobbs, James Peterson and Wayne Powers, along with Libertarian Jason Bateman, in November. None of the current at-large commissioners sought re-election.
District 5 GOP race
A runoff appears more likely in the District 5 GOP race to replace Neil Cooksey, who decided to not seek a third term. Four Republicans and two Democrats competed in Tuesdays primary.
Unofficial returns showed Ridenhour won just over 34 percent of the vote, with 280 votes separating him and Cherne.
Cherne said shes excited about her primary showing.
Our team feels a sense of victory, Cherne said. Were already rallying the troops. I have a fabulous volunteer team and theyre waiting for their marching orders.
Cherne has not run for public office before. Ridenhour ran for a Charlotte City Council at-large seat in 2009.
Ridenhour said he was blessed enough to receive the most votes Tuesday. Its indicative of the great team of volunteers we have. Well get back to work and do it all over again on July 17th, he said. He said he thinks the results will not be as close during a runoff election.
I have confidence in our message getting out to voters, Ridenhour said.
The winner of the GOP primary would face Democrat Paula Harvey, who won her District 5 Democratic primary race against Lisa Rudisill. The unofficial numbers show Harvey had 54 percent of the vote.
Dickerson said elections officials were still going through provisional ballots. Officials are expected to certify the primary results next Tuesday.