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The articles from Inside Politics With Steve Harrison appear first in his weekly newsletter, which takes a deeper look at local politics, including the latest news on the Charlotte City Council, what's happening with Mecklenburg County's Board of Commissioners, the North Carolina General Assembly and much more.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles makes a rare primary endorsement against a sitting council member

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced Thursday that she will run for reelection in 2022.
David Flowers
City of Charlotte
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced last week she is endorsing Wil Russell against incumbent Renee Johnson in the Democratic primary for District 4.

Lyles historically does not do primary endorsements.

In last year’s election, Larken Egleston — one of the mayor’s biggest allies was in a tight battle for one of the four at-large spots on the council. Lyles never publicly backed him with a formal endorsement.

He finished fifth and left the council.

But with Egleston gone and Julie Eiselt retired, Lyles has fewer friends on the dais. In fact, one of her biggest allies is now Republican Ed Driggs.

So it appears the mayor is understandably trying to bend the City Council to her liking — and is willing to spend some political capital to do it.

Johnson has never been on “Team Lyles.” She has tried to kill the city’s plan to prohibit zoning that only allows for single-family homes, for instance.

It’s unclear if Lyles’ endorsement will be enough. Johnson has the backing of the Black Political Caucus.

In a statement to WSOC-TV, Johnson said the mayor's endorsement was "disappointing."

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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.