|Sheriff of Wake County, North Carolina|
2002 – incumbent
|Preceded by||John Baker|
March 1, 1946 |
Bear Grass, North Carolina
|Residence||Garner, North Carolina|
Donnie Harrison is the sheriff of Wake County, North Carolina, having served in that role since 2002. Prior to taking the position, he was for 26 years a law enforcement officer in Wake County with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. From 1988 to 1992, he was also the Chief of Security for Lieutenant Governor James Carson Gardner.
Harrison's first campaign for Wake County sheriff in 1998 against long-time incumbent John Baker was unsuccessful. Baker, nicknamed "Big John," was an iconic Raleigh political figure and former defensive lineman in the NFL. Baker was first elected sheriff in 1978, becoming the first Black sheriff in North Carolina since the Reconstruction era. Harrison sought a rematch in 2002 and won.
The two men faced off again for a third time in 2006 which resulted in Harrison winning convincingly, but not without controversy. His 2006 re-election was mired in controversy as it was released that Donnie Harrison had an affair with a Garner optometrist's wife. Harrison's campaign adviser stated, "There's no denying there was an affair, but the marriage was doomed before the affair happened. Then suddenly, six days before the election, this appears? That says there's got to be a lot of political motivation behind this."
In 2008, Harrison helped dedicate the Wake County Public Safety Center after Baker, who had died in 2007, to honor his long service as sheriff.
Harrison is a self-described conservative Republican. He has weighed in on multiple elections during his tenure as Sheriff, including an endorsement of Pat McCrory's 2008 gubernatorial campaign, and Senator Richard Burr in 2010. In November 2011, Harrison publicly endorsed Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, and former U.S. Attorney George Holding for United States Congress. In his 2010 re-election campaign Harrison won the endorsement of the Muslim American Public Affairs Council.