Hundreds switch party affiliation ahead of primary in Rowan Co. - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Hundreds switch party affiliation ahead of primary in Rowan Co.

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Rowan County Commission Chairman Jim Sides, Jr. (SOURCE: Rowan County Commission Chairman Jim Sides, Jr. (SOURCE:

Hundreds of registered Democrats in Rowan County are switching their party affiliation ahead of the May primary.

Does it signal a philosophical change in political thinking, or something else?

According to many in the county, it's a deliberate move to try and oust the more conservative candidates for Rowan County Commission, including Chairman Jim Sides. Jr.

"When 15,000 people in the county start blogging and say that everything that I've done is wrong, maybe I need to set up and listen," Sides told WBTV."  "But when I go to the blogs and look at them it's the same 8 people.  8 people are not going to deter me from doing my job."

Currently there are 8 candidates in the Republican primary, including Sides.  If Democrats switch their affiliation to unaffiliated, they can vote in the Republican primary.

There are three candidates in the Democratic primary, but since there are three seats open, all three Democrats will be on the November ballot, along with at least one Independent.

"It was higher than usual for a primary, I feel like," said Nancy Evans, head of the Rowan County Board of Elections. "Actually we had 469 Democrats to change to unaffiliated since the first of the year and most of that was within the last two or three weeks."

Groups who are opposed to Sides have encouraged Democrats to switch, even buying ads in the Salisbury Post.

"This is a non partisan effort to get the best people that we can for the Rowan County Commission," John Blair of "La Resistance" told WBTV.  "It's a range of issues, relocation of other industries in Rowan County, how we've not done well about that, it's certainly the buying of the old, dilapidated Salisbury Mall, and others."

Blair pointed out that while La Resistance encourages Democrats to switch to unaffiliated, he says the group itself is made up of a wide range of political affiliations.

"It's a non partisan," Blair said.   "I mean, groups are here, they're Democrats, they're Republicans, they're unaffiliated, they're Libertarians, but we've come together for one reason and hopefully that's going to be helpful for all of the citizens of Rowan County."

"Quite honestly, if they're successful in knocking me out in the primary, I'm still going to go home a happy man," Sides told WBTV. "I have to believe that I appeal to the majority of people in Rowan County.  If that weren't the case I wouldn't have been elected three times."


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