Local And State Elections
5:33 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Adams Wins 12th District Democratic Primary

State Representative Alma Adams of Greensboro won her party's nomination for the 12th Congressional District seat. She carried 43 percent of the vote, which put her above the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff in the crowded Democratic primary.

The atmosphere was jubilant last night as dozens of supporters waited for Adams to arrive at a Greensboro restaurant.

At just after 9 o'clock, she walked in, smiling broadly.

Adams, a retired educator, has the most political experience of the six Democrats who ran to replace former Congressman Mel Watt. She's served in the state house for more than two decades and before that on the Greensboro City Council and the Guilford County School board. At 67, Adams was also the oldest candidate.

“We did it, we did it!" Adams says. "You know, together we did what they said couldn’t be done…we got over 40 percent in this primary vote. I am so proud of you.” 

One of her supporters, Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, says she's relieved that the race will not go to a runoff. 

“For all of us who worked, that means we don’t have to go into another election, so to speak," Coleman says."So we’re excited about that.”

Adams faces Republican Vince Coakley in the general election. Coakley defeated Leon Threatt in the Republican primary by winning 78 percent of the vote. But Adams has a clear advantage. The 12th is a majority-minority district both President Obama and then-Congressman Watt won in 20-12 with nearly 80 percent of the vote.

Malcolm Graham In Charlotte

Malcolm Graham discusses whether to concede and deliver a speech with campaign staff.
Credit Tasnim Shamma

While Adams was claiming victory in Greensboro, in Charlotte, volunteers with Malcolm Graham's campaign were confused. She was in the lead, but all of the votes in Mecklenburg County hadn't been counted yet. So more than an hour and a half after she claimed victory, he delivered a sort-of concession speech. 

"Ms. Adams will probably be the leading vote-getter tonight and win the race tonight, but we'll see tomorrow morning whether or not she wins by 40 percent when the rest of the ballots come in from Mecklenburg County," Grahams said. 

By the end of the night, nearly all precincts reported their results, showing Adams had indeed won the race.

Graham won about 24 percent of the total vote. He faced tough competition from fellow Charlotte residents – George Battle won 12.5 percent of the vote, Marcus Brandon won 8 percent of the vote, and Curtis Osborne won 5 percent of the vote.

Campaign signs outside of the University City Regional library.
Credit Tasnim Shamma

Former Charlotte City councilman James Mitchell also grabbed five percent -- and he wasn't even in the running. His name was on the ballot, but he dropped out of the race a few weeks ago because he couldn't raise enough money.

Voter turnout was relatively low -- only 16 percent of eligible voters participated in this election.

Low turnout plus the Charlotte vote being split among so many candidates is what Walter Taylor, a volunteer with the Graham campaign, believes led to his candidate's loss. 

"Everybody didn't get out and vote," Taylor says. "A lot of them don't know about the middle primaries to vote for congressmen and senators and stuff like that. We just have to try harder the next time to get the people out to vote."

Campaign volunteers speak with voters before they cast their votes inside the Oasis Shrine temple in the University area.
Credit Tasnim Shamma

Some of the few voters who did show up at the polls in Charlotte say they were overwhelmed by the number of qualified candidates.

Anton Shaw voted for Curtis Osborne at the Oasis Shrine Temple polling location in the University area.

"I went to three debates and listened to the candidates for the congressional seat," Shaw says. "And they all came across to me very qualified. And it was hard for me to make a decision till the day I actually voted."

Rajive Patel of Winston-Salem, the former mayor of East Spencer rounded out the race with just a little over one percent of the total vote.