Election upset means new sheriff in town for Wake

November 7, 2018

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison

Longtime Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison lost in a stunning upset Tuesday night to a former deputy.

Harrison, a Republican who was seeking his fifth term in office, lost to Democrat Gerald Baker by a 55 to 45 percent margin, according to unofficial results.

Baker worked for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years, including 15 under Harrison.

He made participation in a federal immigration program a key issue in the election. Wake County is one of just six counties statewide that partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to transfer people who have been arrested and are believed to be in the U.S. illegally to federal custody.

Harrison has defended the program as a way to ensure public safety, but Baker has said some people are arrested on minor infractions, and the program winds up tearing apart their families.

The April confrontation between law enforcement and a Raleigh man in which a Wake County deputy let a dog loose on the man also became a campaign issue.

Kyron Dwain Hinton said he suffered a broken eye socket, broken nose, multiple cuts on his head, “probably 20 bite marks” and memory loss during an April 3 incident when several officers knocked him to the ground and hit him while the sheriff’s office K-9 bit him on his right arm, side and head.

State Highway Patrol troopers Michael Blake and Tabithia Davis and Wake County Deputy Cameron Broadwell have been indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and willfully failing to discharge duties. Broadwell also faces a charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

Blake and Davis also have been fired, while Broadwell remains on administrative duty.

Harrison said he has no problem keeping Broadwell on staff while the criminal case plays out, but Baker said deputies need to be held to a higher standard.

Hinton has sued the sheriff’s office and the state over the incident.

Update hourly