Brandon, Robinson win big in Guilford County

by Jordan Green

Marcus Brandon, a 35-year-old progressive political consultant, pulled out a landslide upset against incumbent Earl Jones in the Democratic primary for NC House District 60 on Tuesday night.

A former Greensboro city councilman, Jones had become a linchpin of the black political establishment as a member of the Simkins PAC, a group of Greensboro elected officials whose endorsements have historically held significant sway over African-American voters. Jones has earned a place in the city’s history as cofounder of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and as a civil rights activist in his own right when he served on an ad hoc committee in the early 1980s that recommended a district election system for the Greensboro City Council that was adopted and allowed blacks increased representation.

Himself a product of a civil rights lineage, Marcus Brandon is the nephew of 1960s sit-in veteran Lewis Brandon. Throughout the primary, Marcus Brandon criticized his opponent for plans to legalize and tax video gambling, and championed progressive initiatives such a light-rail transit and single-payer healthcare.

Brandon came away with 59.8 percent of the vote in District 60, which includes south Greensboro, central High Point and parts of rural Guilford County. Brandon will face

Republican Lonnie R. Wilson in the general election.

Part of Brandon’s strategy was holding a series of cookouts in High Point and driving voters to the polls during the early-voting period.

“Out of 170 early votes, we got 141 of them,” Brandon said. “It got us up with a cushion; we were up 60 percent before the precincts were counted. In a low-turnout election it’s very hard to overcome that kind of margin.”

Tuesday’s primary also marked a big victory for Gladys Robinson, who won 74.7 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for the NC Senate District 28 seat over opponent Evelyn Miller. Robinson is the handpicked successor of the seat’s current occupant, Katie Dorsett.

Robinson will face Republican Trudy Wade in the general election. A Greensboro City Council member, Wade easily prevailed over three opponents in her primary. Robinson’s path to victory in November could be complicated if fellow Democrat Bruce Davis obtains a sufficient number of signatures to get on the ballot as an independent.

In a surprise, Phil Wadsworth led balloting in the Democratic primary for Guilford County sheriff, followed by CB Goins. Because neither obtained more than 40 percent of the vote, they’ll face each other in a runoff election on June 22. The primary eliminated Harlon Costner, a former chief deputy in the sheriff’s office. Incumbent BJ Barnes easily won the Republican primary.

John Faircloth, a High Point councilman, beat out three opponents to win the Republican primary for NC House District 61, narrowly avoiding a runoff with 42.6 percent of the vote. He faces no Democratic opposition in the fall.

Jon Hardister won the NC House District 57 race by a landslide of 72.2 percent, knocking off local lawyer and former state senator Wendell Sawyer. Hardister’s primary win sets up a November contest with Democratic incumbent Pricey Harrison.

In NC House District 58, incumbent Alma Adams handily fended off a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Ralph Johnson by a 53-percent margin.

Another incumbent, Republican John Blust, also won his primary without difficulty, besting challenger Michael Garrett by a 44-percent margin.

Bill Bencini, another High Point councilman, eliminated opponent Myrene Stanley with 74 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for the open District 2 seat on Guilford County Commission. With no Democratic opponent in the fall, Bencini will replace outgoing commissioner Steve Arnold in the north High Point district.

And in county commission District 3, incumbent Linda Shaw handily defeated an aggressive challenger, lawyer and blogger Samuel Spagnola.

Nancy Routh led balloting in the Guilford County School Board at-large race, and will face second-place finisher Lisa Ingle Clapp in November.

Challenger Ed Price garnered more than twice as many votes as incumbent Garth Hebert in school board District 2. Their contest will be settled in the November general election. Brian Clarey contributed reporting to this story

Gladys Robinson celebrates a landslide victory in the Democratic primary for NC Senate District 28. She faces Republican Trudy Wade in the November general election. (photo by Brian Clarey)

by Jordan Green /