Brandon coasts, Wade prevails, Coble clobbers

by Eric Ginsburg

It wasn’t difficult to call several of the races before all the numbers were in, including incumbent Marcus Brandon’s strong victory with nearly double the votes of challenger Earl Jones for NC House District 60.

“I feel really good about the race we ran,” Brandon said when it was clear he would win. “I am extremely encouraged and humbled.”

Given the difficult political climate around the marriage amendment — Brandon is openly gay — and redistricting, he said he was surprised he held an even wider margin than the previous race against Jones, who was an incumbent at the time.

While President Barack Obama is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for North Carolina, more than 20 percent of voters who selected a Democratic ballot voted “no preference” in the state, while the number was closer to 12 percent in Guilford County.

Walter Dalton handily won the Democratic primary for governor, but not as strongly as Republican Pat McCrory, who received almost 90 percent of the vote against five other Republicans.

Incumbent Gladys Robinson easily defeated challenger Bruce Davis for State Senate District 28 for a second time, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote. Robinson said she was never worried that she wouldn’t win, but that she didn’t take the victory for granted and worked hard to earn it.

“I think the results say that I am effective for Guilford County,” Robinson said, adding that her opponent suggested otherwise. She said her priorities during the next term would be focused around education, particularly pre-K and changing teacher evaluations, as well as healthcare.

Rep. Howard Coble, the longstanding incumbent in District 6, didn’t face much competition from Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow or radio personality Bill Flynn despite significant redistricting. Coble watched the results from DC because the Congress was in session, and even with half the counties reporting he held the lead with nearly triple the number of votes Yow received and slightly more against Flynn.

Pat Tillman and incumbent Sandra Alexander held strong leads in the Guilford County school board at large race, with none of the other three competitors coming close. In District 5, Linda Welborn beat her two competitors by several thousand votes.

With half the precincts reporting for the Republican primary in Commissioner District 4, Jerry Branson wasn’t ready to call it, though he went on to win by almost exactly 1,000 votes over his closest competitor. He said he would rest a few days and then would quickly be back to work to try and defeat Democrat and sitting Commissioner Kirk Perkins in the fall.

Branson said the commissioners could “trim some fat” in the budget, including around school construction. Branson, who lives in Julian, is a third-generation small business owner of Stout Trucking based in Greensboro, and said he decided to run for office for the first time because of the future he wants to leave his kids.

The Republican primary for Commissioners District 5 was even more of a blowout, with Jeff Phillips crushing Don Wendelken and winning more than 73 percent of the vote. The District 6 Republican primary was closer, with Jeremy Williams taking the victor by less than 200 votes over Hank Henning. Tony Wilkins came in last with only 27.9 percent of the vote. Williams will face Democratic primary winner Linda Kellerman in the general election.

With almost 54 percent of the votes cast, current Greensboro Councilwoman Trudy Wade won the Republican primary for State Senate District 27. Only Libby Hill owner Justin Conrad gave Wade a run for her money, but he still lost by almost 5,000 votes.

Before all the votes came in for his race it wasn’t looking good for Conrad. When asked what he thought of the results, he joked, “I think I need more votes.”

Conrad was unsure if he would run in the next election but said, “There’s an old saying that you could fish or cut bait, and I’m going to fish,” adding that he works in the seafood industry. “It was a hard race and a fair race. I wish Trudy Wade the best.”