Republicans sweep county commission races

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Record contributors Will Huntsberry, Karen Tam and Charles C. Duncan Pardo contributed to this article.

The four Republican candidates running for the Wake County Commission won Tuesday’s election. Incumbent Republican Tony Gurley will now chair the commission with a solid Republican majority.

Challenger Phil Matthews narrowly beat incumbent Democrat Lindy Brown for District 2. Incumbents Paul Coble (District 7), Chair Tony Gurley (District 2) and Joe Bryan (District 1) won with comfortable margins. All county commissioner races were at-large and voters across the county could cast ballots for all four.

Jack Nichols, who ran a very aggressive campaign against Paul Coble, said, “This year was a Republican Tsunami. I just wanted to see if school board issues would make a difference in getting Democrats out to vote or we would get swept up by the waves. And we got swamped.”

In his hotel room at the Holiday Inn Brownstone on Hillsborough Street, election night headquarters for county and state Democrats, Nichols admitted that Democrats “needed to get the independent vote.”

“Independent Yankee Republicans in the Western part of the county got spooked,” concluded Nichols campaign consultant Perry Woods.

The greatest challenge the new board will face is dealing with budget shortfalls across the county government. All of the Republican candidates campaigned on the platform that funding education and public safety and emergency services were top priorities. But with Dorothea Dix still on the chopping block, it is unclear how the commission will handle bed shortages in mental health care facilities.

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