GOP dominant in area counties

Republicans remained dominant across the Charlotte region Tuesday despite Democrat Barack Obama's strong showing in the U.S. presidential race.

The GOP kept majorities – some unanimous – on the Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Rowan County boards of commissioners, unofficial returns showed.

Only in historically Republican Rowan County was a Democrat, challenger Raymond Coltrain, close to winning a commissioner seat. Coltrain led incumbent Republican Jim Sides with 95 percent of the vote counted. He would become the only Democrat on the board.

Much of the region has been solidly Republican for at least two decades. Even strong get-out-the-vote efforts by Obama workers couldn't overcome the GOP's longtime lead.

Some voters said the presidential race influenced their local choices. Others said they voted based on candidates' records and ability to lead. Many crossed party lines in local races.

Despite a pact with his late grandfather that he would always vote Democratic, Johnny Boswell, 29, of Gastonia voted for Republican Sue Myrick in the 9th Congressional District.

“I appreciate what she's done in the past and what she's doing for North Carolina in general,” said Boswell, who otherwise voted straight Democrat Tuesday.

First-time voter Wendy Cartrette and retired school teacher Phyllis Elder, both of Fort Mill, backed John McCain for president. But they voted for Democrat Marion Davenport in the York County Council District 1 race over incumbent Republican Paul Lindemann and Green Party candidate Bryan Smith.

“I just vote for who I think will do the best job,” Elder said.

Third-grade teacher Joy Johnson, 31, of Concord said she voted for Republicans Bob Carruth and Liz Poole for Cabarrus commissioner, but not because of the national ticket. She voted for Poole because “I knew she'd done a good job on the school board,” Johnson said.

Poole and incumbent Carruth defeated two Democrats for the two open seats. Cabarrus voters haven't elected a Democrat to the county board since 1986.

In other races:

Cabarrus voters faced a daunting list of 17 candidates for five seats on the county school board. Incumbent Holly Blackwelder led the voting for school board. Also elected were Tim Furr, incumbent Cindy Fertenbaugh, Mike Helms and incumbent Wayne Williams, who will fill Poole's two-year unexpired term.

In Lincoln County, three Republicans were elected to the county board of commissioners.

In Gaston County, with 38 of 46 precincts reporting, it appeared the four GOP county commissioner candidates would be elected.

In Iredell, GOP challenger Scott Keadle and GOP incumbents Ken Robertson and Godfrey Williams won three county commissioner seats. The board hasn't had a Democrat since the early 1990s.

Staff writers Kevin Cary, Joe DePriest, Dan Huntley, Hannah Mitchell and Scott Verner contributed.