Politics & Government

Could Irma blow back Charlotte’s primary elections?

dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

In 1989 Hurricane Hugo blew through Charlotte, knocking down trees and power lines – and pushing back the city’s primary elections.

Could Hurricane Irma do the same?

“We are monitoring weather conditions closely,” said Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the state elections board.

State Elections Director Kim Strach could postpone Tuesday’s scheduled primaries if she decides that Irma would disrupt the elections.

She won’t make that call until forecasters have a better sense of the path of the storm, which is now predicted to hit the east coast of Florida on Monday.

Charlotte is one of only three North Carolina jurisdictions with partisan primaries scheduled Tuesday. The others are in Cleveland and Cherokee counties.

In 1989, Charlotte primaries were scheduled five days after Hugo hit town on Sept. 21. Elections officials postponed them for two weeks.

The hurricane even became an issue in one City Council primary.

When incumbent Democrat Charlie Dannelly went on the radio to talk about the storm’s impact on his district, challenger Hoyle Martin accused him of exploiting Hugo for political gain. He called Dannelly’s interview a “free political plug.”

Unlike 1989, there’s now early voting. Through Tuesday, 5,266 voters had already cast primary ballots.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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