Wake Ed

Conservatives criticize Wake County school board candidate Gary Lewis

Gary Lewis is running for the District 8 seat on the Wake County school board.
Gary Lewis is running for the District 8 seat on the Wake County school board. Gary Lewis

Wake County school board candidate Gary Lewis is being criticized by conservatives for the support he’s getting from progressive groups and Democratic school board members.

In his Wake Watch blog Friday, conservative activist Joey Stansbury points to how Lewis has been endorsed by the Wake County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educators (Wake NCAE), the Triangle Labor Council and the N.C. AFL-CIO. Stansbury points to how Lewis and school board member Bill Fletcher are the only two registered Republicans endorsed by Wake NCAE.

Wake school board races are officially non-partisan

Stansbury notes how Lewis is endorsed by Democratic school board member Jim Martin and attended a fundraiser for Martin. Stansbury points to how Lewis has received campaign donations from Martin and Democratic school board member Christine Kushner.

Stansbury also notes how Democratic school board member Susan Evans, who is not running for re-election in District 8, says she’s in support of the News & Observer editorial board’s school board endorsements that included Lewis.

“And he wonders why he didn't receive the endorsement of the Wake County Republican Party,” Stansbury writes in a blog post titled “Gary Lewis The Republican?” “Nobody else does.”

Stansbury’s criticism of Lewis highlights the widening disconnect between conservatives and the school board since the Republican majority was ousted in 2011.

After the 2013 election, Fletcher became the only registered Republican on the school board. But like Lewis, Fletcher was not considered conservative enough by the Wake County Republican Party to be endorsed.

A third Republican candidate, Roxie Cash, was also not endorsed by the Wake GOP. Stansbury has questioned the Republican credentials of all three candidates, including quipping in an August blog post that the Wake County Democratic Party forgot to endorse them.

Lewis is running against Lindsay Mahaffey and Gil Pagan in District 8, which includes Apex, Holly Springs and parts of Cary and Fuquay-Varina.

The Wake County Republican Party is endorsing Pagan. The Wake County Democratic Party isn’t endorsing a candidate in District 8 even though Mahaffey is a registered Democrat.

Victories by Lewis, Fletcher and Cash would both help maintain the current direction of the district and allow the Democratic majority to stress the bipartisan nature of the board.