Democrat Martha Alexander, Mecklenburg County’s longest serving state House member, lost her reelection bid Tuesday night to a well-financed Republican challenger with statewide backing.
Former Mecklenburg County Republican chairman Rob Bryan, a lawyer who favors smaller government and less regulation, easily defeated Alexander in the widely watched House District 88 race.
With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, Bryan attracted 55 percent of the vote to Alexander’s 45 percent.
Bryan’s victory was among at least seven Republican wins in Mecklenburg that helped the N.C. GOP retain its control of the state House.
It was the most hotly contested of the Mecklenburg legislative races, which also saw the election of five other newcomers and the creation of two new districts.
House District 92
With all precincts reporting, Republican Charles Jeter eked out a win against Democrat Robin Bradford for the right to represent this new western Mecklenburg County House district.
Jeter, a Huntersville town commissioner and president of a transportation company, had 51 percent of the vote. Democrat Robin Bradford, a community activist and retired operations director for an investment company, had 49 percent.
The new district, which hugs the Catawba River from Huntersville to Lake Wylie, is evenly balanced between the two political parties.
Jeter, 39, easily won the fundraising race, with $25,000 from individuals and $116,000 in help from the state Republican party.
Bradford, 49, raised about $15,000 through what she described as “a purely grassroots campaign.”
House District 88
In his campaign to unseat Alexander, a 10-term veteran in the state legislature, Bryan, 41, enjoyed an overwhelming financial advantage.
He drummed up more than $287,000. That was about eight times more than the $35,000 raised by Alexander, 73.
Democrats once outnumbered Republicans 2-1 in Alexander’s district. But the district, which runs south from Dilworth and Myers Park to I-485, was dramatically redrawn by Republicans in the General Assembly last year. Now, Democrats barely outnumber Republicans.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to go to Raleigh with (Governor-elect) Pat McCrory to get reforms done,” Bryan said.
Alexander had not conceded as of 10:45 p.m., but said: “I had excellent people and we ran a positive campaign. I feel good that we ran a good race.”
Senate District 38
Former Mecklenburg Democratic Party chairman Joel Ford scored a decisive victory over Republican Richard Rivette in this heavily Democratic district.
With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Ford had 80 percent of the vote. Ford, 42, is chairman of the Charlotte Housing Authority. Rivette, a marketing and business development executive, had 20 percent.
New terms for incumbents
Incumbents appeared headed for reelection in the following districts:
Senate District 37
In this largely Democratic district, incumbent Democrat Dan Clodfelter won an eighth term after building up a wide lead over Republican Michael Alan Vadini, a political newcomer.
With more than 90 percent of precincts counted, Clodfelter garnered 68 percent of the vote to Vadini’s 32 percent.
Senate District 39
Republican incumbent Bob Rucho also landed an eighth senate term, with a comfortable lead over Democrat Jack Flynn.
Rucho, a Matthews dentist, had 62 percent of the vote with more than 95 percent of precincts reporting. Flynn, who has run unsuccessfully for Congress and for Charlotte city council, had 38 percent.
Senate District 40
Democratic incumbent Malcolm Graham coasted to a fifth term in the state senate, easily outpolling Republican Earl Lyndon Philip, a political consultant and full-time doctoral student.
With all precincts reporting, Graham had 84 percent of the vote, while Philip collected 16 percent.
The outcomes of 11 uncontested Mecklenburg races were determined months ago in the primary elections. The winners in those races:
• Senate District 41: Republican Jeff Tarte will resign his position as Cornelius mayor to represent a new legislative district covering Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and parts of southeast Charlotte.
• House District 98: House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican
• House District 99: Democratic incumbent Rodney Moore
• House District 100: Democratic incumbent Tricia Cotham
• House District 101: Democratic incumbent Beverly Earle
• House District 102: Democratic incumbent Becky Carney
• House District 103: Republican incumbent Bill Brawley
• House District 104: Republican incumbent Ruth Samuelson
• House District 105: Republican Jacqueline Schaffer, an attorney who has never before held elected office
• House District 106: Democratic newcomer Carla Cunningham will represent a new north Mecklenburg County district after running unopposed in both the primary and general elections.
• House District 107: Incumbent Democrat Kelly Alexander
Steve Harrison contributed.