Brunswick County Democrats have had a tough two years, but down-and-out was not the way to describe those who gathered early Tuesday at Democratic Party headquarters to get the results of the 2010 primary.
No precincts had reported by 8:15 p.m. - the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. - but the early vote and absentee results posted on the county website showed incumbents, Republican and Democratic, ahead by comfortable margins.
Northwest Mayor James Knox had a lead over Brunswick schools employee Leonard Jenkins in the Democratic primary for the 17th District N.C. House and incumbent Sheriff John Ingram easily outdistanced the early votes of his Republican primary opponent, Timothy Daniels. Frank Iler, the 17th District incumbent representative, held a three-to-one lead over his Republican primary opponent, Shallotte attorney Mac Tyson.
Republicans swept all available Democrats out of local offices in the 2008 election, and earlier this year topped the chart for number of registered voters in Brunswick for the first time in anybody's memory. Republican ballots were chosen two-to-one by voters in the early vote of nearly 5,000 ballots.
But Brunswick Democrats at party headquarters Tuesday night said they think the party will win back some Republican seats when November's ballots are counted.
The party expects to hold on to its three remaining seats - district attorney, clerk of court and state senate - said Donna Silva, Brunswick Democratic Party chairwoman. And, she predicted, they will sweep away the one Republican trying to defend his Board of Education seat and claim the formerly Republican seat in the other school board race.
"If the party gets out the vote, we're going to see some successes," Silva said.
Both candidates in Republican primaries for clerk of court and sheriff are former Democrats, Silva said, but even that fails to discourage her.
Longtime Brunswick Democrats such as Pearly Vereen, a chairman of the county commissioners in the 1970s, said they've seen voters turn totally to Republicans before. But they've always changed back to Democrats before, and Vereen is sure it will happen again.
Silva is at least publicly also unfazed by the fact that Democrats couldn't field candidates this year for the two commissioners' seats up for grabs. And the primary is the final vote in one commissioners' race because there is no Democratic opposition. The other will face a Libertarian on the November ballot.
Silva said that there were four Democrats who seemed serious about vying for the commissioners' seats, but decided not to.
Silva said also that the party will be in good shape for the November election, regardless of who wins the Democratic primaries.
The party is already planning a fundraiser to fill its war chest for November, Silva said. But she wouldn't give a target figure of how much money might be needed.
From here on out, Vereen said, "It's according to how hard we fight."