Charlotte’s rise to become a political power center

Charlotte’s rise to become a political power center


Dilemma X

The east coast state of North Carolina has been nationally known for producing top NCAA college basketball programs. Much has changed in the state due to the growth of its cities. Over the last 5 years North Carolina has become a political battleground between the Republican and Democratic parties.

In this state lies the city of Charlotte, the state’s largest city. Historically the political power of the state tends to derive out of the eastern agricultural counties or the urban centers of Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro/Winston-Salem. But, today it seems that statewide and national political power has shifted southwest to the city of Charlotte.

Many citizens of Charlotte, over the many years, could be heard complaining that the state overlooked Charlotte and their region. That might not in fact be true, with all the major highway construction projects around the Charlotte region, the investment in the city’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport and state directed funding for public transportation. But, perception is everything.

Currently, the governor of North Carolina and the lieutenant governor come from Charlotte. President Obama has just nominated two North Carolinians to key federal posts and they are both from Charlotte. Anthony Foxx has been nominated for the next Secretary of Transportation and Congressman Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Attorney Anthony Foxx is the current mayor of Charlotte and Charlotte attorney Mel Watt has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 1993, serving North Carolina’s 12th congressional district.

All four of these leaders come from the city of Charlotte and not from Raleigh-Durham or Greensboro/Winston-Salem. What this current political shift really means for this city is yet to be known. What is known is Charlotte has in fact become, for now, a political power center in the state of North Carolina and maybe in the Southeast.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

Congressman Mel Watt and Mayor Anthony Foxx

Who are they?

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory, was born in Columbus OH and from the age of 9 raised in a suburb of Greensboro. He graduated from Catawba College in Rowan County NC, where he earned degrees in Education and Political Science. McCrory went to work full time for Duke Energy. He served on the Charlotte city council from 1989 until he was elected mayor at age 39 in 1995. McCrory served a record 14 years as the Mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009.  McCrory saw Charlotte change rapidly in population and national status during his terms as mayor. He would lead the effort to establish the city’s CATS Lynx light rail system, the first rapid rail transit system in the state of North Carolina. He would also see the relocation of the city’s first NBA franchise to New Orleans and see the city build a new center city NBA arena to host the city’s current franchise.

Dan Forest

Dan Forest, raised in Charlotte, holds two undergraduate degrees from UNC Charlotte and is a graduate of UNC Charlotte College of Architecture. He served as Office President and Senior Partner of the state’s largest architectural firm.

Mayor Anthony Foxx

Anthony Foxx, a native of Charlotte, graduated from Davidson College with a degree in history and earned a law degree from New York University School of Law. Foxx is one of only a few  mayors of large cities who are African American where the city has a majority white population.

Mel Watt

Mel Watt, a native Charlotte’s Steele Creek, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS degree in Business Administration and received a JD degree from Yale Law School. Watt is also the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.


North Carolina’s politcal future

The political climate in this state is not stable and any political missteps by the Democrats and Republicans can change the political direction of North Carolina. The state is home to some of the highest ratios of people moving in, meaning the North Carolina of today will not be same tomorrow. Even though North Carolina grew rapidly in population and is not much smaller than Georgia, it did not receive an additional electoral college vote. North Carolina maintains 15 electoral votes to Georgia’s addition of 1 bringing that state to 16 electoral college votes.


A look at the last few election cycles in North Carolina

In 2008 President Barack Obama would win the state of North Carolina.

Obama 2,142,651 winner
McCain 2,128,474


Democrat Kay Hagan would win her election to the U.S. Senate defeated incumbent Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Hagan 2,249,311 winner
Dole    1,887,510


Democrat Bev Perdue would beat Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory to become North Carolina’s first female governor.

Perdue   2,146,189 winner
McCrory 2,001,168


By the mid-term election North Carolina would change greatly politically.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Burr (Republican) defeated N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (Democrat).

Burr  1,458,046 winner
Marshall 1,145,074

State Senate and State House- North Carolina General Assembly
Republicans gained control of the North Carolina Senate

Republicans last held a majority in the Senate in 1898. Democrats controlled North Carolina Senate from 1898 till the 2010 mid-term elections.

In fact the elections of 2010 gave the Republicans control of both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for the first time since 1896.


Republicans and Democrats have changed over the years

Of course historians note that the Republican party and the Democratic party have changed greatly philosophically since the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican). Eisenhower pushed to end segregation in the District of Columbia, the Federal Government, and the U.S. Armed Forces. President Eisenhower also, in 1957, sent in federal troops to escort the “Little Rock Nine” to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock. Lastly, he would sign the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction. The election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and the 1964 election race between Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat) and Barry Goldwater (Republican) created the modern Republican and Democratic parties. Many Democrats in the South and across the nation would switch their voting party to the Republican party and many Republicans would register and vote Democrat. 


Then came the election of 2012
The 2012 Democratic National Convention would be hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is where delegates of the Democratic Party officially nominated Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President for a 2nd term. Yet, this was a different political and economic climate in North Carolina which yielded a different result from the 2008 election.


The Presidential Election of 2012

President Obama would lose North Carolina to Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Romney 2,270,395 winner
Obama   2,178,391


2012 Governor’s race
Saddled with low poll ratings one-term North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue would make a late announcement, on January 26, 2012, that she would not seek reelection. This would open up the seat for a not too well known Democrat to seek the Governor’s seat. This would be N.C. Lieutenant Governor Walter H. Dalton. Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory would run for a second time and would be elected its first Republican North Carolina governor in 20 years. Dalton would receive few votes than Obama would in the 2012 election.

McCrory 2,447,988
Dalton  1,931,750

The last Republican governor of North Carolina
Jim Martin, Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1985 to 1993, was the second Republican elected to the office after Reconstruction. He in fact attended college in the Charlotte area and served in local government in Charlotte. He also served 6 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Charlotte-based 9th Congressional district. Post Martin’s governorship, Democrats would win all North Carolina gubernatorial elections even in election years where North Carolina Republicans would claim victory in U.S. Senate races and the state would vote Republican for presidential races.


Lieutenant gubernatorial election of 2012
Republicans would go on to also win the lieutenant gubernatorial election of 2012 with the election of Dan Forest. Dan Forest is the son of former U.S. Congresswoman (in office 1995 to 2013) and former Charlotte Mayor Sue Myrick (in office 1987–1991). Myrick became mayor of Charlotte by defeating 2 term mayor Harvey Gantt, the city’s first African American to serve as mayor. In the 1990s, Gantt ran twice for the United States Senate against Jesse Helms, barely losing each time.

Dan Forest (Republican) 2,187,728
Linda Coleman (Democrat)  2,180,870

Want to know more about North Carolina

The state ranks 10th in population

1 California 38,041,430
2 Texas 26,059,203
3 New York 19,570,261
4 Florida 19,317,568
5 Illinois 12,875,255
6 Pennsylvania 12,763,536
7 Ohio 11,544,225
8 Georgia 9,919,945
9 Michigan 9,883,360
10 North Carolina 9,752,073
11 New Jersey 8,864,590
12 Virginia 8,185,867
13 Washington 6,897,012
14 Massachusetts 6,646,144
15 Arizona 6,553,255

The state is home to 3 urban areas with populations over 1 million:

Charlotte: 2,454,619
Raleigh-Durham: 1,998,808
Greensboro/Winston-Salem: 1,611,243
Metropoltian Combined Statistical Areas

With the massive growth in the banking industry, in the 1990s and the early 2000s, Charlotte grew to become the 2nd largest banking center in the nation after New York City. It is also home to the 7th busiest airport in the world.

Population:  751,087

Raleigh is the largest city in the Research Triangle metropolitan region of North Carolina. It is home to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Research Triangle Park (mostly located in neighboring Durham).

Population: 416,468

Most populated North Carolina Counties
Mecklenburg County (Charlotte)  969,031
Wake County (Raleigh) 952,151

Video:  Governor Pat McCrory’s Inauguration, January 12, 2013

Video:  Dan Forest takes Oath of Office at his Inauguration, January 12, 2013

Video: President Obama announces Mayor Anthony Foxx, of Charlotte, North Carolina as his nominee to be the next Secretary of Transportation

Video: President Obama announces he is nominating Charlotte, North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency


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