After four rounds of voting Monday night, Durham County Democratic Party Chairman Floyd McKissick Jr. won the election for the state senate seat that opened up when Jeanne Lucas died last month. With 44 votes, McKissick bested former Durham County Commissioner MaryAnn Black, who finished with 38 votes. Brenda Hill Pollard, first vice chair of the party, finished third with one vote. The other candidates, Cora Cole-McFadden, La Harve Johnson and Brenda Buie Burnette, dropped out or were eliminated before the final vote.
The county party's executive committee was charged with choosing Lucas' successor. The election, held in the basement of White Rock Baptist Church, took place after questions were raised about candidate McKissick's role in organizing the special election; as party chair, he manages the process (see "Durham Dems to select Lucas' successor," April 4). McKissick and Pollard recused themselves Monday night.
McKissick won the first vote by a substantial margin with 38 of 86 votes. The remaining votes were split between the women in the race; Black led the way with 24. Two and a half hours into the meeting, Pollard and Burnette, the two lowest vote-getters who'd tied with one vote in the first round, ignored calls to drop out of the race. In the second vote, Burnette was eliminated.
Before the third vote, whispers spread that McFadden and Johnson were aligning behind Black in female solidarity, and the strategy almost worked. In the third round, Black won 37 of 83 votes to McKissick's 41. But McKissick prevailed in the last round.
"I hope we can leave here united as a party," he said at the end of the four-and-a-half hour session. Everyone seemed happy to go home.