by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Among those candidates North Carolina voters rejected this week: Sheriff Mike Andrews in Durham County, Sheriff Irwin Carmichael in Mecklenburg County, and in Asheville, Captain Randy Smart, who had been endorsed by outgoing Sheriff Van Duncan. Governing writes that the losses can be traced to the debate over illegal immigration and whether local law enforcement will cooperate with federal authorities.
It’s a template that could be imitated elsewhere, with progressive voters in increasingly liberal metropolitan areas demanding that sheriffs refuse to cooperate with ICE or the Trump administration in general. “Sheriff Carmichael’s massive defeat in Mecklenburg Cty NC sends a strong message to local law enforcement nationwide,” tweeted Mark Mellman, a prominent Democratic consultant and pollster. “Cooperate with Trump’s deportation squad and voters will punish you.”
The American Civil Liberties Union spent $175,000 on the Mecklenburg race, marking the first time the group had run a voter education campaign in a sheriff’s election. It won’t be the last.
“It could be that the ACLU, or the Democrat Party, has decided that this is something that works in certain scenarios,” says Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative research group. “It sounds like the Democrats want to use the 287(g) issue in the way Republicans have used the sanctuary cities issue.”
Stay tuned for November. Based on Thursday night’s rally in Indiana, President Trump intends to make border security, the wall, and curbing illegal immigration an issue on the campaign trail. We’ll see if it becomes an issue in North Carolina races as well.