The mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, is a liberal culture warrior. Some say she was the instigator for the whole HB2 mess. When a compromise on the legislation was reached last week, she blasted it, calling it a “false repeal” and that she was “deeply disappointed” by the Republican leaders in the General Assembly, who of course ramrodded the repeal over Governor Cooper’s principled veto.

Roberts is the liberal, Queen City version of Jesse Helms: you may not always agree with her, but you always know where she stands. To the left. Way, way to the left.

So it’s pretty interesting that the Howard-Dean founded, Bernie Sanders-supporting, also way to the left group Democracy for America is passing over Roberts in favor of Charlotte’s mayor pro-tem, Vi Lyles. A statement from DFA Chair Jim Dean (Howard’s brother) commended Lyles for being a “strong voice for progressive change in Charlotte, from standing up to the discriminatory policies of HB2 to fighting for a $15 minimum wage.” (Lyles apparently welcomed the HB2 repeal but criticized the moratorium on non-discrimination ordinances.)

Roberts has to be wondering, “What’s it take, huh? I’m the most liberal candidate in the field, and this is how they repay me?”

Not being an avid follower of Charlotte politics, nor having much insight into Democracy for America’s priorities, I can only guess as to why they backed Lyles over Roberts. And my guess is that while Roberts has a singular focus on LGBT issues, Lyles’ policy goals are more diverse and, some would say, more inclusive.

That is to say – if you live in Charlotte and your #1 priority is LGBT rights, you have your candidate. But there’s an untapped market in the city of voters who care about other issues, like affordable housing and public transportation. If Roberts’ opponents can make the case that they will be more effective in advancing these issues, her tenure as mayor will be notable, but short-lived.

In endorsing Lyles, Democracy for America also passed over State Senator Joel Ford, who is also in the race. Ford introduced an HB2 repeal bill of his own several weeks back, but his goofy one-month moratorium never got traction, and he was slammed as “throwing the LGBT community under the bus” for his efforts.


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