Kelly Williams stood outside of the Grady Cole Center last Wednesday, patiently waiting to see Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama.
Williams, a 25-year-old tall white guy with a cool-ass hat and curly hair, admitted he didn't think North Carolina would matter much when it came to choosing who would represent the Dems in the bid for the White House.
After all, the N.C. primary is May 6. Usually, we know who the presidential nominee is by now.
"It seems like it's going to be in play now," he said. "It's sort of exciting."
The new head of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party share this sentiment. "There's a lot happening on the national, state and local level," said Joel Ford, who was elected earlier this month.
May 6 isn't just a showdown between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. It's also a chance to pick the governor and several statehouse seats. In Mecklenburg County, several seats on the county commission are up for grabs as well.
Ford said it's the job of the local Democratic Party to provide voter education because they don't take a position in the primaries.
Williams has a position, sort of.
"I guess I'm a Barack Obama supporter," he said. "I haven't really made up my mind as to who I'm going to vote for right now. But I like the way [Obama] carries himself. I like the attitude that he's trying to bring."
Williams said that because of all the national attention that the primary has been getting, he's been looking at the local and state elections as well.
"A lot of times, even with the [Charlotte] news the local issues get overshadowed, I think that's sort of unfortunate. But you pay attention when you can. You have to stay educated," said Williams.
Rebecca Gomer, president of the Young Democrats of Mecklenburg County, said that many people are seeking education this election cycle.
"We have been absolutely flooded with calls about what our plans are and how to get involved," she said.
People young and old are excited that North Carolina will have a "big voice" in deciding who will be the next president, Gomer said. "The best part about it is it's going to help the state and local races too."
The upcoming primary and close race between Clinton and Obama has brought attention to the state and the Queen City like never before. Not only did Obama make an appearance last week, former President Bill Clinton made a stop in Charlotte Friday.
Ford said that since he's been involved in politics, he can't remember the last time a primary election has had so much meaning.
"There's a lot of anxiety mixed in with the excitement," he said.
Ford added that the back-and-forth between Obama and Clinton has the potential to cause division in the party. "Those of us in power must remind the electorate of the issues that bind us as Democrats and that will carry us beyond any division or anxiety that we may have."
The back-and-forth has continued in recent national polls. Obama led Clinton as recently as March 11-13, according to the Gallup Poll. But a Gallup Poll released March 19 indicates Clinton is leading Obama by a statistically significant seven points, 49 percent to 42 percent.
Matthew Hoffman, a 29-year-old Charlotte resident, said that right now he's for Clinton. He showed his support outside the Grady Cole Center.
"I thought that Barack's team has done a horrible job of damage control in the past week and a half," said Hoffman, dressed in a miniskirt and holding a pink-and-orange sign. "The focus this week on religion and race was demoralizing, especially since Hillary and Bill have both been longtime, staunch supporters of freedom and equality for everyone. I've noticed that our government has been a lot friendlier toward everybody in the last 10 years, and I think Hillary and Bill have a lot to do with that."
Selected races also on the ballot:
Richard H. Moore
Robert F. (Bob) Orr
Walter H. Dalton
N.C. State House District 99:
N.C. State House District 100:
Source: N.C. Board of Elections