Voters have ousted the sheriff of one the largest counties in Norh Carolina because of his support for President Trump’s immigration policies.
WASHINGTON — It wasn't even close.
Voters in North Carolina's largest county, which includes Charlotte, ousted their sheriff last week in a Democratic primary fought over immigration and criminal justice reform.
Advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union, which invested an unusually large amount of money in the race, hope to use it as a model as they look for ways to resist the Trump administration's immigration crackdown at all levels of government.
"We are absolutely seeking to put folks on notice," said Ronald Newman, the director of strategic initiatives for the civil liberties group.
The ACLU spent $175,000 in Mecklenburg County — almost three times the amount the winner on Tuesday raised in the first quarter of the year — helping to turn around a race that internal polling showed was the incumbent's to lose.
Garry McFadden, a retired homicide detective who has been recognized by former President Barack Obama, won the three-way primary on Tuesday with 52 percent of vote.
Incumbent Sheriff Irwin Carmichael came in a distant third, with 20 percent of the vote, blaming "outside influences" and the immigration issue for his loss, even as he defended his policies.
There is no Republican on the ballot in the general election, so McFadden is effectively sheriff-elect.
The issue at the center of the campaign was an immigration program known as 287(g), in which local law enforcement agencies partner with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to turn over undocumented immigrants arrested on unrelated crimes.
The program has taken on new significance as ICE steps up its raids under Trump and cities in blue states rush to declare themselves "sanctuary" cities.
Carmichael defended Mecklenburg County’s participation in the program, even appearing on Fox News in March to push back on critics who "say that we're ripping families apart."
"I always tell everyone, you will never ever encounter this program unless you are arrested and charged with a crime," he said.
Strange time to be alive to vote someone out for wanting to enforce the laws.