Nick Mackey brushed aside bad publicity and media scrutiny on his way to victory in this week's race for the N.C. General Assembly.
The question now is what does this mean for the fledgling representative and the district he will soon represent.
Voters Tuesday elected Mackey, a Democrat, by a margin of 65 percent to 34 percent over Republican Dempsey Miller. It was a decisive win, one that for some represented justice.
It was little more than a year ago that Mackey won the right to replace outgoing Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph, only to have that victory thrown out when it was discovered that precincts had been improperly organized.
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Many voters felt Mackey, a 41-year-old attorney, had been cheated.
“They felt Mackey got the short-end of the stick and they took that with them into the voting booth this time around,” said Dwayne Collins, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Black Political Caucus.
Mackey has become something of a controversial figure in Charlotte. He resigned from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in 2003 while under investigation, has filed for bankruptcy and is being sued for allegedly failing to pay more than $22,000 in advertising bills.
Mackey rarely speaks to the press. He often does not return phone calls and would not comment for this story.
In May, Mackey managed to defeat six-time Democratic incumbent Drew Saunders to represent the party and easily beat Miller in the General Election.
Afterward, he told an Observer reporter: “Voters know that any of the problems I've had over the years are just the average problems they have in their lives. People see through the propaganda the media puts out.”
Ted Arrington, a UNC Charlotte professor and local political expert, said Mackey, who is black, was able to unseat Saunders, who is white, with the help of new district lines in 2002. The changes left the district with a much larger percentage of African Americans.
“This has happened before in other districts,” Arrington said. “When it does, the white candidate hangs on for a while, but eventually loses to a black candidate with name recognition.”
And regardless of what some may think of Mackey, he has one of the most recognizable names in Mecklenburg County.
Donna Edwards voted for Mackey. She recognized his name, but didn't connect it with the any of the negative headlines.
A two-year resident of District 99, which includes Huntersville and the University City area, Edwards said she was impressed with Mackey's approach to constituents.
“He came out to the polling centers and shook people's hands,” she said. “I liked him. He seemed genuine and smart.”
Collins said the Black Political Caucus backed Mackey because they liked his youth, energy and commitment to constituent service. Collins said the freshman representative has promised to fight for roads, health care and education.
But Kerry Hayes said the proof of that will be in his actions. Hayes voted for Miller. He said there were too many unanswered questions with Mackey.
“I still don't know what he stands for,” Hayes said.
Collins said that while Mackey has not been hurt by his approach so far, he will need to find a way to get his message out.