Black Political Caucus endorses Vi Lyles

Charlotte mayoral candidate Vi Lyles has won the backing of the Black Political Caucus, an endorsement that could play a big role in a Democratic primary.

The endorsement came after the caucus voted Sunday night at Reeder Memorial Baptist, the same place where Lyles took part in a Thursday night debate with incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts and state Sen. Joel Ford, both fellow Democrats.

The endorsement could be important in a race where African-Americans make up nearly two of three of the city’s Democratic voters. The city primary is scheduled for Sept. 12.

Lyles, the mayor pro tem, called the caucus nod “a pretty significant endorsement in terms of not only my attributes but the substance of my platform.”

Ford said Lyles did a better job getting her supporters to the caucus meeting.

Earlier this year he and Lyles confirmed that they’ve talked about the possibility of one dropping out in order not to split the African-American vote. “We agreed on two things,” Ford told the Observer in April. “One is that Jennifer needs to go, and only one of us needs to run. That’s what we agreed on… We have to decide who that will be.”

But Ford insisted Monday that he’s staying in.

“I respect the caucus but this thing is far from over,” he said. “I am not dropping out.”

In 2015, the caucus endorsement didn’t appear to make a difference in the outcome. The caucus backed City Council member David Howard, who finished third in the primary.

Ford said he, not Lyles, offers a real change.

“When you look at Vi, you have to look at Jennifer in the same light because their voting records are the same,” he said. “They are part of the status quo.”

Lyles disagrees.

“That shows a lack of understanding inwhat the mayor’s role is,” she said. “The mayor seldom votes. The mayor is an influencer and has to be a collaborator. In contrast to Ms. Roberts, I do have collaborative leadership in working with city council.”