There'll be a new Wake County sheriff as Baker loses runoff election

ByTamara Scott, Joel Brown, and Jamiese Price WTVD logo
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Rowe unseats incumbent sheriff Baker, will face Harrison in November
Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker lost Tuesday night's run-off election for the Democratic nomination for sheriff to Willie Rowe, who will face Donnie Harrison in November's general election.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There will be a new sheriff in town after the polls closed and the votes were counted.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker lost Tuesday night's run-off election for the Democratic nomination for sheriff to Willie Rowe.

With all precincts reporting, Rowe received more than 75% of the vote.


He'll face former sheriff Donnie Harrison in November.

Rowe celebrated at a watch party inside the Aloft Hotel on Hillsborough Street.

Rowe, a former Wake County deputy and a 28-year veteran of the sheriff's office, greeted dozens of supporters in the minutes before the polls closed.

When voting ended at 7:30 p.m., Rowe shot out to an early 4,500 vote lead over Baker and as the vote totals trickled in, it became increasingly clear that the first-term sheriff would not be able to catch up.

This was not an unexpected result.

Rowe came just a few tenths of a percentage point from winning the Democratic primary outright back in May.

Those eligible to vote in the runoff said the key issue driving them to the polls is public safety with increased crime being top of mind

"Just being safe walking into the grocery store without the fear of being shot out and robbed," one voter said. "We need people in office that will make sure we have enough policemen out here patrolling the area regularly instead of when they want to."

Another voter, David Cooper, said he wants someone with a vision for improvement.

"Overall I think it's pretty safe but I think it can be better. It's always important. It always starts with the local government. My vote counts," he said.

Baker requested a runoff and got it but came up short again.

"We're in this position because of you all. All the phone calls, texts, reaching out to people. Spreading the message. Word of mouth and social media - every avenue," Rowe told supporters. "You made the difference. I believe I'm going to be victorious tonight. I owe it all to you. Let's get ready to come together and win it all in the fall."

Baker's defeat marked the end of a whirlwind four years at the helm of law enforcement in the state's largest county.

He cruised to victory over then-sheriff Harrison in 2018, but after taking office, Baker's high hopes gave way to staffing shortages, high turnover and infighting.

Five Wake County sheriff's workers filed federal lawsuits accusing Baker of discrimination and retaliation.

Democratic voters wanted change - and they chose Rowe to carry the party's mantle in November.


There were other important races, including two Cary town council seats on the ballot.

In the race for the at-large seat, Carissa Johnson was the projected winner over Ken George with 53% of the vote.

In the District C seat, incumbent Jack Smith got 55% of the vote against Renee Miller.

In Fayetteville, Mayor Mitch Colvin locked up a third term by bringing in 63% of the vote against challenger Freddie Delacruz.

Nine city council seats were also up for grabs in Fayetteville.

In Franklin County, three school board seats were on the ballot.

In Lee County, voters in Sanford cast ballots for the city council at-large seat as well as for Ward 1.

And voters in Rocky Mount Ward 7 voted on that council member.

See the results of all these races here.