State lawmakers have repealed the controversial House Bill 2, but the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that inspired the defunct law could still play a big role in that city's Mayoral race.
UNC Charlotte Political Science Professor Eric Heberlig says incumbent Democratic Mayor Jennifer Roberts is doubling down on support from a small-but-active bloc of LGBT voters to support her in the Democratic primary. Roberts faces challengers Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and State Senator Joel Ford. Republican Councilman Kenny Smith has also announced his candidacy.
“The question is whether she comes in at under 50 percent, and gets pushed to a runoff, and whether Vi Lyles and Joel Ford's supporters are able to unite in that runoff election and pool their support in order to out-voter Roberts' supporters,” Heberlig said.
Heberlig said the whole mayoral race could be decided in the Democratic primary. He said criticism of House Bill 2 probably isn't enough to unseat Roberts, but costly protests after the police shooting of Keith Scott could help the opposition critique her leadership.
“I don't think either one of those issues alone probably has a broad enough or intense enough constituency to unseat her by itself,” said Heberlig.