CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In 2018 there was a sea change in local politics in Mecklenburg County.
“It was a dramatic shift,” Democrat and political consultant Dan McCorkle said.
“A lot of it had to do with Trump winning in 2016. It seriously activated so many people.”
In 2018, only Democrats won races for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
That includes in Districts 1, 5 and 6 which were longtime Republican strongholds.
“As Democrats we often weren’t challenging them, we were often leaving them alone and not running,” McCorkle said.
It’s a stark shift from more than 30 years ago when Republicans were firmly in control of the commission or even just a few years ago when Democrats left District 6 alone.
In 2018 Susan Rodriguez-McDowell won District against longtime incumbent Bill James by 2,749 votes. She’s running against Republican Joel Levy in 2020.
Susan Harden beat Republican incumbent Matthew Ridenhour by just 1,104 votes in 2018. Harden is not running for re-election and Democrat Laura Meier is facing off against Ridenhour.
Elaine Powell beat Republican Jim Puckett by more than 8,000 votes in 2018 and will face him again in November.
Republican Larry Shaheen is not waving the white flag yet and says Republicans could bounce back in those key areas.
“A lot of the reason 2018 went the way it went was because of Republicans not turning out in a midterm election. I think you’re going to see that change this year,” Shaheen said.
Both parties believe North and South Mecklenburg will be the areas to watch this election.
“We will absolutely know if the changes are permanent or if we’re still purple,” McCorkle said.
“But I think we’ll never be deep red like we used to be.”
“I’m very interested in watching what happens in that urban-suburban area which is Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Matthews, Mint Hill, South Charlotte. How it goes in those areas so it will go in the presidential election, senate election, and on down the line including county commission,” Shaheen said.