Black Political Caucus corrects its endorsement in one City Council race

Voters line the machines at at Myers Park Traditional School during a recent primary. DAVID T. FOSTER III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Voters line the machines at at Myers Park Traditional School during a recent primary. DAVID T. FOSTER III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com Observer file photo

After an initial inaccurate tallying of endorsement votes, the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has endorsed Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles in her re-election campaign and 10 other City Council candidates.

Confusion arose this week after the group’s Sunday meeting to decide endorsements. The caucus’ chair issued a correction on Monday and, in one case, a previously announced endorsement was reversed.

The caucus has in past elections wielded influence. In the last election, for instance, each of the caucus’ endorsed candidates won in competitive primaries. And in 2015, the caucus helped push Lyles to victory as the city’s first African American female mayor.

This year in Districts 1 and 5, the caucus endorsed incumbent council members Larken Egleston and Matt Newton, both Democrats. Egleston and Newton each have challengers in the upcoming primary.

In District 2, former state senator and past City Council member Malcolm Graham won the endorsement. Initially, the vote appeared to favor candidate Jessica Davis in District 2, but the Black Political Caucus on Monday issued a correction to its voting results, saying the first tally did not include all 148 votes cast.

“We prematurely reported partial results that represented 60 or 148 voters,” an email from the Black Political Caucus chair, Khalif Rhodes, said.

Rhodes attributed the initial error in vote tallying to a technical issue originating with the software used to count endorsement votes.

Also running in District 2 are Democrats Antoinette (Toni) Green and Jeremy Arey and Republican Jacob Robinson.

Of the votes cast, Graham prevailed with 63 votes. Davis won 59 votes.

In District 3, the caucus endorsed Terry Brown, who hopes to succeed current District 3 council member LaWana Mayfield. Mayfield is running for an at-large seat on the council. Brown, a political newcomer, will appear on the Democratic primary ballot with candidates Caleb Theodros and Victoria Watlington.

In Districts 6 and 7, the group endorsed two candidates challenging incumbent City Council members. The caucus is backing Democrat Gina Navarrate, who is running against Republican incumbent Tariq Bokhari, and Victoria Nwasike, a Republican challenging incumbent Ed Driggs, also a Republican.

Incumbents, newcomer endorsed at-large

Also Monday, the caucus corrected its initial endorsement report that no at-large candidate had received enough votes for a decision (40%).

The corrected tally showed four candidates with 40% or more of the votes. There are four at-large seats to fill on City Council and seven Democrats (including five incumbents) and one Republican running at-large.

The Black Political Caucus endorsements include incumbents Mayfield, Braxton Winston and James Mitchell, as well as newcomer Jorge Millares, according to Rhodes’ email statement. Incumbent City Council members Julie Eiselt and Dimple Ajmera are also running at-large, as well as new candidates Chad Stachowicz and Joshua Richardson.

Mayfield was the highest at-large vote-getter, capturing 61% of the endorsement vote.

Six Democrats and one Republican are vying for the District 4 seat left open by council member Greg Phipps. Even with the corrected vote tally, none of the candidates in District 4 received 40% of votes necessary for an endorsement.

Black Political Caucus members plans to meet and vote again later this month on the District 4 race. The caucus is open to any person who is black and a registered voter in Mecklenburg County.

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared online Monday and has been corrected due to new information from the Black Political Caucus, which says some of its initial endorsements for City Council races were wrong and were based on incomplete vote tallying.

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Anna Douglas is an investigative reporter for the Charlotte Observer. Previously, she worked as a local news reporter for The (Rock Hill) Herald and as a congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for McClatchy. Anna is a past recipient of the South Carolina Press Association’s Journalist of the Year award and the Charlotte Society of Professional Journalists’ Outstanding Journalism Award. She’s a South Carolina native, a graduate of Winthrop University, and a past fellow of the Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. Anna has lived in Charlotte since May 2017.