The Black Political Caucus has endorsed Vi Lyles in her quest to win the Democratic nomination in Charlotte’s mayoral race.
In a three-way contest with incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts and state Sen. Joel Ford, Lyles got 78.63 percent of the points available, the caucus said Sunday. Ford came in second with 64.54 percent of the points available, while Roberts got 41.31 percent of the points available. (Under caucus rules, the point system does not total 100.)
Lyles released a statement on her campaign’s Facebook page thanking the caucus for what she called a “historic early endorsement.”
“This critical endorsement from the BPC carries forward our tradition of advancing African American women to the forefront of politics throughout our city,” she said. “…Our grassroots movement is strong and shows the people of our city are ready to elect an experienced Mayor who is going to work for the betterment of our communities and a brighter future for all Charlotteans.”
Although the filing period for local races does not open until July 7, the Democratic primary has taken on some early drama. Both Lyles and Ford have questioned Roberts’ handling of the HB2 controversy as well as her handling of the civil unrest that erupted in Charlotte following the September 2016 police killing of Keith Lamont Scott.
To avoid splitting the black vote, Ford and Lyles have discussed the possibility that one of them would drop out of the race, according to the Charlotte Observer. (Blacks make up nearly two out of three Democratic voters in the city, and a candidate needs 40 percent of the vote total to avoid a runoff.)
Republican Kenny Smith so far is running unopposed.
In an interview with Qcitymetro, Ford said early Monday that the Black Political Caucus endorsement of Lyles would not drive him from the race. He said that while he and Lyles agree that Roberts should go, the two also agreed to consider factors such as the level of grassroots support they each received and the financial strength of each candidate.
“What I’ve been trying to say is that this is a process,” Ford said. “This one particular endorsement process is just that – one particular endorsement process. The full community has not spoken yet. And I continue to look forward to talking with people who are looking for change.”
Ford offered no benchmarks for what might trigger him to leave the race.
“I can just tell you it’s not going to be me,” he said. “I can’t tell you what she (Lyles) is going to do. …I am confident that I will not come in second place. I have not given that a thought.”
Primary voters will go to the polls on Sept. 12.