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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Many down-ballot Mecklenburg County races will be decided in Tuesday's Democratic primary

voting sign
Zuri Berry

The Republican primary for U.S. Senate is the headline race in Tuesday’s North Carolina primary, but in Mecklenburg County, the Democratic races will dominate the rest of the ballot.

U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is leading former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker in the polls in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. The winner will likely face Democrat Cheri Beasley in November.

Here is a look at the other races, starting with the U.S. House.

There are some high-profile congressional primaries in the state.

The most significant is the GOP primary in the 11th District in the mountains, where seven Republicans are trying to defeat first-term Rep. Madison Cawthorn.

In the 4th District in the Triangle, three Democrats — Valerie Foushee, Nida Allam and Clay Aiken — are competing in what is the most expensive Democratic primary in the state’s history. They are vying to replace David Price, who is retiring.

But in the Charlotte area, it’s pretty quiet.

And one reason is that the new congressional map doesn’t have many competitive seats. In the 12th District, Democratic incumbent Alma Adams is expected to easily win the primary. And in the new 14th District, Democrat Jeff Jackson is heavily favored. That new district includes half of Mecklenburg County and most of Gaston County.

There is a competitive primary on the Republican side for the 14th District.

Business owner Jonathan Simpson and veteran Pat Harrigan are on the ballot, with the winner likely facing Jackson in November.

This is a new seat and is heavily Democratic, with Joe Biden winning it by about 11 percentage points in 2020.

But in the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama won the precincts in what is now the 14th by about 3 points.

So depending on the national mood this fall, Republicans could put money in the 14th District if they think a large enough red wave is coming.

Charlotte City Council

Perhaps the most talked-about local race is for the four at-large seats on Charlotte City Council.

Former Mayor Patrick Cannon, who was arrested on corruption charges while in office in 2014, is running. He hasn’t raised much money, but he already has high name recognition.

The other five are either current or former council members running for the at-large seats.

Dimple Ajmera and Braxton Winston are the two incumbents. LaWana Mayfield is a former district member. And Larken Egleston is a current District 1 member. He’s raised by the far the most money, with more than $137,000 this election.

And then there is James “Smuggie” Mitchell, who was first elected in 1999.

Mitchell resigned from the council in January 2021 because he had a 25% ownership stake in a construction company, RJ Leeper, that does business with the city.

It’s unclear whether Mitchell still has that ownership stake.

Mitchell also only recently filed more than two years of missing campaign finance reports.

There are also guaranteed to be two new members, from Districts 1 and 5. Those races will be settled in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. There are no Republicans running.

Mecklenburg County Commission

For the Mecklenburg County Commission, the Democratic at-large primary is the headliner.

There are six Democrats for three at-large seats. But in terms of fundraising and name recognition, it’s really a four-person race.

Leigh Altman and Pat Cotham are seeking reelection. And then there are two candidates who come from the education side trying for an at-large seat.

One is current Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Jennifer De La Jara. The other is Arthur Griffin, a former school board member.

And this comes as the County Commission is increasingly vocal about CMS — going back to a decision last year to withhold $56 million in funding.

And like many races, this will be pretty much decided Tuesday. There’s only one Republican running.

Sheriff and district attorney

The countywide races for Mecklenburg sheriff and district attorney will also be decided Tuesday. There are no Republicans running.

The sheriff’s race has attracted the most attention because of the continuing problems at the county’s jails.

Garry McFadden has two challengers — both former sheriff’s employees. Gena Hicks and Marquis Robinson say McFadden’s mismanaged the detention centers. McFadden says the staffing shortages are due to COVID-19 and not his fault.

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather has a primary challenger running to his left. Defense attorney Tim Emry says Merriweather has been too slow to reform the criminal justice system.

General Assembly

The new political maps lock in Democrats to almost all of Mecklenburg County’s state House and Senate seats. For the most part, Democratic incumbents are for the most part not being challenged.

In Senate District 42 — southern Mecklenburg — there are two Republicans running, Scott Stone and Cheryl Russo. The winner will face Democrat Rachel Hunt in November.

That’s the GOP’s best chance to flip a state Senate seat.

Voter turnout

In Mecklenburg, 21,026 people voted early in the 2018 primary. That’s doubled this year to 42,122.

But will that translate into more people voting overall or are voters just now used to voting early? Mecklenburg Elections Director Michael Dickerson thinks it may be the latter.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.