RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Willie Rowe, a 28-year veteran of the Wake County Sheriff's Office, won the race for sheriff on Tuesday night, defeating former Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
Rowe had defeated incumbent Gerald Baker in a run-off in the Democratic primary in June. Rowe, an Army veteran who won the most votes during the initial primary, did not initially clear the minimum vote percentage due to a divided field.
Baker, who came in second in the primary, requested a run-off, though was soundly defeated. Baker, who will retire on December 1st, released a farewell letter last week.
In 2018, Harrison lost handily to Baker, in part due to the former's embrace of the 287g program, which allowed Wake County deputies to screen the immigration status of people in the county jail, leading to them being turned over to federal Immigration and Customs (ICE) agents for potential deportation. The controversial program drew strong pushback; Harrison vowed he would not bring the program back should he be re-elected.
He easily won the Republican primary in May, and enjoyed a decided financial advantage over Rowe, while also benefitting from strong name recognition thanks to his 16 years in office from 2002 to 2018.
Despite that, Rowe, who had retired from the department as a Major, was able to carry momentum from his run-off to a resounding victory by garnering nearly 54% of the vote.