North Carolina’s 2012 Democrat nominee for lieutenant governor could become state’s first African American in that office

May 9, 2012


North Carolina nominee for lieutenant governor: Democrat Linda Coleman
By John Frank
The News & Observer
A Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor emerged Tuesday in the low-profile race for the state’s No. 2 post, but a crowded Republican field left the party’s nominee undecided.
Linda Coleman, the state’s former personnel director, bested state Sen. Eric Mansfield in the Democratic contest by a double-digit margin, based on early election results.
In the Republican contest, Raleigh architect Dan Forest edged a crowded field to take the lead with about 33 percent, below the 40 percent needed to win outright.
Forest is ready for two more months of campaigning. “We’ve certainly been anticipating a runoff all along with five candidates in the race,” Forest said from a private election party in Charlotte. “We built a grass-roots campaign across the state for that purpose.”
The Democratic race for lieutenant governor started late, opened by incumbent Walter Dalton’s bid to replace Gov. Bev Perdue, who decided not to run again at the 11th hour.
Coleman’s campaign raised limited campaign cash and used a mostly volunteer staff but received a huge boost from the state employees association and an affiliated union, which spent $300,000 to buy yard signs, television advertising and polling.
“It’s been a very short sprint for all of us in this Democratic campaign because of the short time we had … to run a campaign that generally takes a year,” said Coleman, a former state lawmaker from Knightdale.
The Election of 1898 in North Carolina: An Introduction

The election of 1898 marked a turning point in the history of North Carolina. In the years leading up to the election there were three active political parties vying for the support of the state’s electorate, and African Americans had a significant role in state politics, both as officeholders and voters. After 1898, all of that would change. The political landscape through most of the twentieth century was affected by issues and policies raised in the campaign of 1898.

After the Civil War, the Republican Party rose to power in North Carolina. Many former Confederates were prohibited from voting, while newly enfranchised African Americans and whites who had sympathized with the Union flocked to the Republican Party, still viewed as the party of Abraham Lincoln and emancipation.

As former Confederates and Whigs began to come back into the political process, they formed the Conservative Party, which opposed federal intervention in state affairs and spoke out against the so-called “radical” reconstruction policies of the U.S. Congress. The Conservatives, who would later change their name to the Democratic Party, took control of the North Carolina General Assembly in 1870 and began to reverse some of the changes enacted by Reconstruction-era Republicans. In 1876, popular Civil War governor Zebulon Vance was returned to the state’s highest office. In the eyes of many white North Carolinians, the state had been “redeemed.”

When North Carolina, like much of the rest of the nation, was mired in a severe economic depression in the 1880s, the small farmers in the state were hit the hardest. The poor infrastructure in the state made it difficult for them to get their goods to market, and, when they did, they thought that they were not given a fair price by buyers. To compound their problems, many farmers felt that neither of the two major political parties had their best interests at heart.

The national Farmers Alliance, an organization of farmers advocating for cooperatives and economic reform, spawned smaller organizations throughout the country, with an active branch in North Carolina. The “alliancemen” were active supporters of the new People’s Party, also known as the Populist Party, led nationally by North Carolinian Leonidas LaFayette Polk.

The Populists ran several candidates in the 1892 election in North Carolina and the results were surprising. While few of their candidates were elected, they did receive a significant number of votes. In fact, the Populist vote combined with the Republican vote was greater than that for the Democrats. While the Democratic party still controlled the government, they no longer represented the majority of voters.

In 1894, the Republicans and Populists negotiated an agreement in which, instead of running competing candidates for statewide offices, they would divide the ticket between the two parties. This cooperative arrangement was known as “fusion.” It worked. The fusion candidates defeated the Democrats throughout the state, winning a majority in the legislature. Populist leader Marion Butler and Republican Jeter Pritchard were elected to the U.S. Senate. Once in control, the fusion government enacted a series of reforms, including a more liberal election law — which would make it easier for North Carolinians to vote — and a restoration of “home rule,” allowing elections of local officials in several eastern North Carolina counties where they had previously been appointed by the state. In 1896 the parties fused again, retaining control of the legislature and electing Republican Daniel L. Russell governor. While other states experimented with fusion arrangements, nowhere was it as successful as in North Carolina.

After two successful campaigns, cracks in the fusion relationship began to show. Although the Republicans and Populists shared common interests in electoral reform and local self-government, these issues had already been addressed, and some Populists were uncomfortable joining with a party that did not support increased coinage of silver and was so closely associated with African Americans. The state Populist leadership, in fact, felt that they had more in common with the Democrats and actually proposed a fusion agreement with them in 1898. However, when the Democrats refused, both the Populist and Republican leaders realized that the only way they could continue to hold power was through fusion and they agreed to run together again.

As the election of 1898 got closer, the Democrats scrambled to come up with a new strategy to regain power. Furnifold Simmons, who had successfully run the 1892 campaign for the party, was appointed party chairman and charged with managing the campaign. Simmons was a successful organizer with a keen knowledge of state politics. He organized a speakers bureau, sending talented orators who were sure to stay on message to all parts of the state, and he helped to establish local political organizations in each county. But perhaps Simmons’s most important contribution to the campaign would be the decision to focus nearly all of the party’s campaign efforts on a single issue: white supremacy.

The “white supremacy campaign” was exactly that. The Democrats repeatedly stated that only white men were fit to hold political office. They often accused the fusionists, especially the Republicans, of supporting “negro domination” in the state. Indeed, there were a large number of African American officeholders, some of whom had been elected and many more who were appointed to office. The Democrats referred to themselves as the “white man’s party” and appealed to white North Carolinians to restore them to power.

One of the most significant events of the campaign was the appearance of an editorial in the Wilmington Daily Record on August 18, 1898. The Daily Record was an African American newspaper published by Alex Manly. The editorial was a response to a speech by a Georgia woman who had called for the widespread lynching of African American men in order to protect white women. The Daily Record suggested that consensual relationships between African American men and white women were common and that often the man was accused of rape only after the relationship was discovered. Once the Democratic papers got hold of the editorial there was an uproar. Under headings such as “Vile and Villainous” and “A Horrid Slander,” the editorial was reprinted throughout the state. Some Democratic papers continued to run it in almost every single issue up to election day.

The effect of the Daily Record editorial and the success of the repeated cries for white supremacy by the Democrats left their opponents reeling. The Republicans tried to focus on electoral reform and fair government, while the Populists ended up on the defensive, eventually trying to assume the white supremacy issue for themselves. Populist newspapers such as the Progressive Farmer and Caucasian ran cartoons and editorials criticizing the Democrats for appointing African American officials and arguing that the Populists were in fact the true “white man’s party.” But it was all of no use. Simmons ran a masterful campaign, with racial issues dominating the discourse all the way through.

Toward the end of the campaign, perhaps worried that speeches and editorials would not be enough to ensure victory, the Democrats increasingly resorted to the threat of violence. At several rallies in southeastern North Carolina, large groups of men dressed in red shirts and openly brandishing weapons rode through predominantly African American neighborhoods in an effort to scare potential Republican voters away from the polls. The “Red Shirts” were a campaign strategy borrowed from South Carolina Senator Ben Tillman, who appeared at several rallies on behalf of the North Carolina Democrats.

On election day, November 8, 1898, the Democrats were returned to power. They won a majority of the seats in the legislature and quickly began work on legislation that would effectively disfranchise African American voters for decades to come. The effects of the election were lasting. After Daniel Russell left office in 1900, North Carolina would not elect another Republican governor until 1972. George White, an African American who was elected to Congress from a predominantly African American district in 1898 was the last African American elected to that body until 1928. North Carolina would not send another African American to Washington until 1992.

Nicholas Graham
North Carolina Collection- UNC University Libraries
June 2005


John Adams Hyman

John Adams Hyman (July 23, 1840- September 14,1891) was a Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina from 1875 to 1877.

Born enslaved near Warrenton, North Carolina, Hyman was sold to a new master in Alabama in 1861 after it was discovered that he was attempting to educate himself. In 25 years as a slave, Hyman was sold at least 8 times.

After the American Civil War and the emancipation of southern enslaved blacks, Hyman returned to North Carolina in 1865 and engaged in agricultural pursuits.

Hyman was elected to the North Carolina Senate, where he served from 1868 to 1874. In 1874, he was elected as a Republican to the 44th United States Congress and served for one term (March 4, 1875–March 3, 1877).

He was special deputy collector of internal revenue for the 4th district of North Carolina from July 1, 1877 to June 30, 1878. Hyman moved to Washington, D.C.

James Edward O’Hara was an African American Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1883 to 1887, representing North Carolina. He studied law in North Carolina and at Howard University. After serving as clerk for the 1868 state convention that drafted a new state constitution, he served in a similar role in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1868-1869. Later, he was elected chairman of the board of commissioners for Halifax County, North Carolina (1872–1876). He was admitted to the bar in 1873 and practiced law. He died there on September 15, 1905.

Henry Plummer Cheatham

Henry Plummer Cheatham (1857–1935) was an African American Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1889 to 1893.
Born in slavery (with a white father) in what is now Vance County, North Carolina, Cheatham attended public school and graduated from Shaw University in 1883. After working as a school principal, Cheatham served as the elected Register of Deeds for Vance County (1884–1888).

Cheatham was narrowly elected to Congress over incumbent Furnifold M. Simmons (who would later lead the White Supremacy campaigns that disfranchised North Carolina blacks). After years in Washington, D.C., Cheatham returned to farm in Littleton, North Carolina. He later moved to Oxford, North Carolina and served as superintendent of the Colored Orphanage of North Carolina (then known as the Colored Orphan Asylum) there for the next 28 years

George Henry White

George Henry White (December 18, 1852- December 28, 1918) was a Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1897 and 1901. He is considered the last African American Congressman of the Reconstruction era, although his election came twenty years after the era’s “official” end. By the time of his election, Reconstruction had long since been overturned throughout almost all of the South, making it impossible for blacks to be elected to federal office. However, in North Carolina, “fusion politics” between the Populist and Republican parties led to a brief period of Republican and African American political success from 1894 to 1900. After White left office, no other black American would serve in Congress until Oscar De Priest was elected in 1928; no other black American would be elected to Congress from the South until after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; Barbara Jordan of Texas and Andrew Young of Georgia were elected in 1972, and Harold Ford, Sr. of Memphis, Tennessee was elected in 1974.

White first attended private “old field” schools, before entering public schools after the Civil War. He was then educated at Whitin Normal School in Lumberton, N.C., before entering Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1874. After graduating from Howard in 1877, he studied law privately under Judge William J. Clarke and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1879, practicing in New Bern, North Carolina. He taught school in New Bern and later became principal of the New Bern State Normal School, one of four training institutions for African American teachers created by the legislature in 1881.
White entered politics as a Republican in 1880. He was elected to a single term in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1880, and then to the North Carolina Senate in 1884 from Craven County. In 1886, he was elected solicitor and prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district of North Carolina, a post he held until 1894.

Eva M. Clayton

The first African American woman to represent North Carolina in Congress, Eva M. Clayton became the state’s first black Representative since 1901. From 1982 to 1992, Clayton served as an elected member and chair of the Warren County board of commissioners. She was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1992 in a special election and thus took office before Mel Watt, who was also elected in 1992.

Mel Watt

In 1992, Mel Watt and Eva Clayton became the first African Americans elected to Congress from North Carolina since George H. White’s prophetic speech.  They were both elected from districts drawn under the Voting Rights Act – districts drawn against a historical backdrop that included the 1900 election stolen from George H. White, North Carolina’s continuing practice of depriving African Americans of the vote by sundry methods and a persistent pattern of racially polarized voting. Melvin is a Democratic has served North Carolina’s 12th congressional district since 1993. An attorney from Charlotte, North Carolina, Watt previously served one term as a state Senator and served as campaign manager for former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.

Henry E. Frye

Henry E. Frye was born on August 1, 1932 in Ellerbe, North Carolina. After leaving Ellerbe in the late 1940s to attend North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro,  Frye became involved in Air Force ROTC and student government.  Graduating from A&T with highest honors, he entered the United States Air Force earned the rank of captain before leaving after four years of service. In 1959, Frye graduated from the University of North Carolina Law School.

Frye’s political career began in 1963 when he became the first African American assistant United States District Attorney. Five years later, Justice Frye of Guilford County became the first African American to be elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in the 20th century. Following his 6 terms in the House, Justice Frye was elected to the state Senate, serving one term.  Governor James B. Hunt appointed him, in 1983 to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where he became the first African American to sit on the North Carolina Supreme Court. In 1999, Governor Hunt appointed him to chief justice.

Abraham H. Galloway


North Carolina Museum of History- Office of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources

Abraham H. Galloway was born enslaved on February 13, 1837, in Smithville (later renamed Southport), Brunswick County, North Carolina.

Galloway received training as a brick mason and was allowed to work independently, as long as he earned enough to give his owner fifteen dollars each month. Craving freedom, Galloway escaped from Wilmington on a ship going north and arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June 1857. From there he journeyed to the safety of Ontario, Canada, and became a spokesman for abolition. He maintained close contacts with abolitionists in Massachusetts and probably helped other fugitive slaves reach the safety of Canada. After the outbreak of war, Galloway returned to North Carolina to work for the liberation of African Americans.

Fugitive slave and abolitionist Abraham H. Galloway returned to North Carolina in 1862 or 1863. He worked as an intelligence agent for General Benjamin F. Butler and other Union officers and may have been the chief African American spy in North Carolina. Galloway probably identified coastal landing sites for the Federal army and supplied information on the location and strength of Confederate forces. He also used his influence to encourage free blacks and former slaves to enlist in North Carolina African American Union regiments or to work as laborers for Federal forces. By early 1863, Galloway had become eastern North Carolina’s most important spokesman for African American rights. He envisioned a life in which blacks and whites enjoyed legal and social equality. In the spring of 1864, Galloway joined a delegation of black leaders who met with President Abraham Lincoln on the issue of African American suffrage. In the fall, he attended the National Convention of the Colored Citizens of the United States in Syracuse, New York.

Already established as one of the principal African American leaders in eastern North Carolina, Abraham H. Galloway prepared to play a substantial role in Reconstruction politics after the Union victory in April 1865. He gave the keynote address to more than 2,000 former enslaved blacks at a July 4, 1865, rally in Beaufort. He also traveled across North Carolina and spoke before black audiences on equal rights for African Americans and on women’s suffrage. In one speech, Galloway declared that “if the Negro knows how to use the cartridge box, he knows how to use the ballot box.” Galloway helped organize a Freedman’s Convention in Raleigh during September and October 1865, as well as the North Carolina Republican Party. He served as a delegate from New Hanover County to the state constitutional convention in Raleigh in January 1868 and was elected state senator in April 1868 and again in 1870. Galloway was a renowned orator, even though apparently he could neither read nor write. Galloway died unexpectedly in Wilmington at the age of thirty-three on September 1, 1870. An estimated 6,000 people attended the funeral of the former slave two days later.

John W. Winters

Born on January 21, 1920 in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Winters, Sr. became Raleigh’s first African American city councilman and one of the first African Americans elected to the North Carolina State Senate since the Reconstruction Era. He died on February 15, 2004.

Howard N. Lee

On May 6, 1969, Howard N. Lee (born in 1934) was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In doing so, he became the first African American elected mayor in a predominantly white southern city since Reconstruction.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Fort Valley State University and a Master’s in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he accepted a position at Duke University in 1966. Lee was mayor of Chapel Hill from 1969 to 1975, during which, among other things, he helped to create a useful city busing system that still is in use today.

Clarence E.  Lightner

Clarence Everett Lightner (August 15, 1921 – July 8, 2002) was the first popularly elected Mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina and the first African American elected mayor of a metropolitan (defined as having a population of 50,000 or more) Southern city. Lightner, a Democrat, was also the first and to date only black mayor of Raleigh, serving in office from 1973 to 1975. Raleigh was and still is a predominantly white city.

Ralph A. Campbell, Jr.

Ralph A. Campbell, Jr. (December 7, 1946 – January 11, 2011) was for 3 terms the State Auditor of North Carolina. A Democrat, Campbell was the first African American to hold a state-wide elected executive office in North Carolina.

Campbell was first elected to Raleigh City Council in 1985 and was re-elected three additional times, serving as mayor pro tem in his final term, from 1989 to 1991. In 1992, he ran for the office of State Auditor and became the first African-American on the North Carolina Council of State. Campbell was re-elected to the same office in 1996 and 2000.Campbell sought a fourth term in the 2004 Council of State elections, but was narrowly defeated by Les Merritt. He died in 2011 of lung cancer.

He was the brother of former Atlanta mayor, William (Bill) Campbell.

Harvey B. Gantt is an American architect and Democratic politician in North Carolina. He was Mayor of Charlotte from 1983 to 1987, and ran twice, against Republican Jesse Helms in 1990 and in 1996, for the United States Senate.

1990 North Carolina U.S. Senate election
Republican Jesse Helms (incumbent) 1,089,012  52.58%
Democratic Harvey Gantt 981,573  47.39%
Socialist Workers Rich Stuart 681  0.03%

1996 North Carolina U.S. Senate election
Republican Jesse Helms (incumbent) 1,345,833  52.64%
Democratic Harvey Gantt 1,173,875  45.92%
Libertarian Ray Ubinger 25,396  0.99%
Natural Law Victor Pardo 11,209  0.44%


2008 Presidential Election- North Carolina

Barack Obama and John McCain went down to the last votes in a state that hadn’t backed a Democrat for president since 1976, but in the end the state of North Carolina threw its electoral weight behind the Democratic senator Barack Obama. This followed a campaign in which Obama leaned on first-time voters and energized African Americans to offset a tradition of Republican success.


North Carolina

Voter Registration as of May 06, 2012

Democratic: 2,734,120

Republican: 1,975,011

Libertarian: 13,775

Unaffiliated: 1,569,822

Total: 6,292,728


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