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Lyles Wins Democratic Mayoral Primary, Faces GOP's Smith In November

Democrat Vi Lyles (left) faces Republican Kenny Smith in the November election for Charlotte mayor.
Democrat Vi Lyles (left) faces Republican Kenny Smith in the November election for Charlotte mayor.

Reporters Alex Olgin and Tom Bullock discuss the mayoral election results with WFAE's Mark Rumsey.

Updated 10:36 p.m.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts conceded victory to Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles Tuesday in Charlotte's Democratic mayoral primary. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Lyles had about 46.2 percent to Roberts's 36.2 percent. Joel Ford was a distant third with about 15.9 percent.

Once the results are certified, Lyles will face Republican Kenny Smith in the general election on Nov. 7. 

  • See live results on the N.C. State Board of Elections website,  

Smith is a current city council member in District 6. He had the most money on  hand of any of the candidates, and said he's been sitting on that war chest waiting to see whom he'll in the general election. In an interview with WFAE, he quickly compared Lyles to Roberts.

"Mayor Pro Tem Lyles is essentially the same candidate as Jennifer Roberts. She has been with her 100 percent on policy initiatives. Many of those have been outside of what we think is sort of the moderate mainstream," he said.

He blamed Lyles for her role in the city's passage of a non-discrimination ordinance that led the state legislature to pass House Bill 2, which invalidated the ordinance. 

"We think this fall voters will have a clear distinction between the two of us," he said. 

Lyles was quick to rally her supporters after the win. 

“The outpouring of support from every corridor of our city has been humbling and tonight, we came out to show we are poised and ready to make the changes we need this November,” Lyles told supporters in an email. “I look forward to uniting our party and building upon our momentum as we look towards the future.”


Updated 9:11 p.m.

With 62 of 168 precincts plus early and absentee votes in, Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles was holding a 10-point lead over Mayor Jennifer Roberts, 47 percent to 37 percent, in Tuesday's Democratic Mayoral Primary.WFAE's Alex Olgin, Tom Bullock, and Mark Rumsey report Charlotte mayoral and city council results at 9 p.m.

At 8:53 p.m., state Sen Joel Ford was a distant third with 14.9 percent.

Lyles was with supporters at her campaign headquarters at The Park conference center, off Briar Creek Road. Although most precincts had yet to report, she was excited. 

"I'm pretty stoked actually. So I want to say this we worked really hard to get our message out to voters and they believed in us," she said.

Roberts was awaiting results with supporters at The Peculiar Rabbit restaurant on Pecan Avenue.

Assuming someone gets at least 40 percent of the vote, that winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Kenny Smith in the general election. Smith was holding a massive lead over his two rivals, with 90.1 percent of the vote. 


Posted at 7:35 p.m.

The polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Charlotte's mayor and city council primaries. With only absentee and early votes reported, Mayor Pro-Tem Vi Lyles had a lead over Mayor Jennifer Roberts, 47 percent to 37 percent.

Current State Sen. Joel Ford had about 14 percent of the vote, followed by Lucille Puckett and Connie Johnson, both with less than 1 percent of the early and absentee votes.

In the Republican mayoral primary, current City Council member Kenny Smith had 91 percent of the vote. He's facing Gary Dunn and Kimberly Paige Barnette for the nomination.

A candidate must get at least 40 percent of the vote to win nomination outright. If that doesn't happen, the top two vote-getters would face a runoff on Oct. 10.

That's what happened two years ago. Roberts got just 36 percent of the primary vote. Then-Mayor Dan Clodfelter was second with about 26 percent. But Roberts easily won a runoff three weeks later, 54-46 percent.  She went on to win the mayoralty in November 2015 over Republican Edwin Peacock.

Roberts had the edge in both campaign fund-raising and spending before this year's primary.

In the City Council at-large Democratic primary, incumbents James Mitchell (20 percent) and Julie Eiselt (17.6 percent) led the field of eight candidates in the early and absentee votes. Braxton Winston and current District 5 council member Dimple Ajmera were next in line. The top four vote-getters in that race will face three Republican challengers.  

See a related story with full coverage of the council races

From left, Jennifer Roberts, Joel Ford and Vi Lyles are the top three candidates for the Democratic mayoral nomination.
From left, Jennifer Roberts, Joel Ford and Vi Lyles are the top three candidates for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Copyright 2021 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including and The Charlotte Observer.
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