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Schism in the Party 

Could the vote for sheriff cause Democrats to switch sides?

It's been a roller coaster ride for Sheriff-elect Nick Mackey and sitting behind him on that ride is the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party.

And everybody's pissed. A number of black Democrats say Mackey's being targeted because he's black. Some white democrats have filed grievances with the N.C. Democratic Party. And Mecklenburg County still doesn't have a sheriff.

According to County Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts, the state party is going to investigate the grievances.

While the state party is investigating, Mackey has yet to be confirmed as sheriff and Chipp Bailey, who was Mackey's opponent, is the acting sheriff.

Here at home, the Democrats seem to be fighting within the confines of the party. No one even reported that the Mecklenburg County Republicans posted a nasty message on their Web site about the sheriff selection process. (Visit www.meckgop.com to read the message.)

Democratic chairman David Erdman admits that the Mackey matter is a distraction for the party that should be focused on the 2008 presidential election.

"This is usually our down time. Now we're having to do a lot of extra work, but I'm not complaining," Erdman says.

Erdman may not be complaining, but members of the Mecklenburg County Democratic party are. Two grievances have been filed against Mackey with the state party. There are calls for Mackey to move aside and let someone else be sheriff. And according to Michael Dickerson, director of elections with the county board of elections, about 10 people have changed their party affliction since the Dec. 6 vote. Dickerson says most of those changes took place on Dec. 7.

"I've seen some e-mails circulated," says Erdman, adding that he didn't pay attention to who sent them. "People will do what they freely want to do."

Roberts, however, is urging party's members on both sides of the Mackey controversy to be "civil" during this process. According to the Charlotte Observer, Roberts called on better behavior during the Dec. 18 County Commissioners meeting where the board voted to form a bipartisan committee to keep track of developments and recommend action.

And the saga continues ...

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