He’s keeping that option open.
Pendergraph, a lifelong Democrat, is leaving his post for a job in Washington with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He got a pair of surprise send-offs from local Democrats. County commissioner Parks Helms proposed letting an administrator – not the sheriff – run the county’s jails.
And Democrats who oppose Pendergraph’s program of deporting jailed illegal immigrants balked at endorsing his hand-picked successor.
Pendergraph calls himself an "ultra-conservative Democrat." He’s voted for Jesse Helms and Sue Myrick. He won’t say whether he voted for George W. Bush. So it’s little surprise that Republicans have asked him to switch.
"They’ve worn me out," he says.
There’s been talk about Pendergraph switching parties and running for Myrick’s congressional seat.
"I never say never," he says, "because 15 years ago people asked me about running for sheriff and I said ‘That was crazy.’ I’m gonna leave that open. I’m certainly interested ... but I’m more interested in this new opportunity I have taken. And that’s where my attention is going to be totally."
Myrick, 66, is expected to run again next year. After that, who knows? Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and state Sen. Robert Pittenger could both be interested. That doesn’t bother Pendergraph.
"I’ll let them worry about that," he says. "If I jumped in on something like that, I’d have to be pretty confident I could (win) and I’m not ready to do that. But I keep all options open."