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Familiar names floated among potential mayoral candidates

A list of potential candidates for Charlotte mayor emerged Friday within hours of Mayor Anthony Foxx’s sudden announcement that he won’t seek re-election.

The only candidate to officially announce on Friday was Edwin Peacock, a Republican and former member of the Charlotte City Council.

But other current and former elected officials – some holding state and local offices – said they are interested in the job.

It’s very likely that candidates will get in the race soon, with the start of the filing period on July 5, and primaries in September followed by November’s election.

Some possible candidates said they expect to spend this weekend talking it over with family, friends and supporters.

Among current elected officials who said they are pondering a run for mayor: City Council members Patrick Cannon, David Howard and James Mitchell and state Sen. Malcolm Graham, all Democrats.

Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat and former Mecklenburg commissioner, and Scott Stone, a Republican who lost to Foxx in 2011, are interested in running but remain undecided. Stone took to Twitter Friday to comment on the upcoming mayor’s race. “GOP candidate w/ focus on city’s spending can win this race,” he tweeted.

No official Democratic hopeful

Within political circles, state Rep. Becky Carney and state Sen. Daniel Clodfelter, both Democrats, have also been mentioned as possible candidates. They could not be reached for comment, but Clodfelter told the Observer recently that he might be interested in running for a city office. Charlotte Council member Michael Barnes, a Democrat, is also considered likely to join the race, although he could not be reached for comment Friday.

Aisha Dew, chairwoman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, said she did not know of anyone who had officially announced plans as of Friday to run for Foxx’s seat.

Dew said she also heard rumors that Graham and Clodfelter might run. As for Clodfelter, “I think that it was always known that if the mayor would not run he would potentially run for mayor,” Dew said.

Many big GOP names in mix

Other Republican possibilities include former City Council member John Lassiter, who lost a bitter mayoral race to Foxx in 2009, and Tim Morgan, a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board. He’s the brother of Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber.

Among Republicans, Lassiter, who is a close friend of Gov. Pat McCrory and part of his gubernatorial transition team, may carry the highest name recognition.

Lassiter said Friday that, as of now, his political career is over. “I know what the obligation is,” he said. “I know what the impact would be on my business. It will take an awfully compelling reason for me to go and do that (run) again.”

Stone, who lost a lopsided race to Foxx two years ago, said he is “strongly” considering running, “but I have not made any kind of decision.”

Stone is managing principal of American Engineering, a Charlotte-based company that was started in November 2012.

Roberts, the former chair of the Mecklenburg commissioners, lost a race for Congress last year and now does volunteer work for nonprofits. She didn’t rule out running for mayor.

“It’s not something that I was sort of planning,” she said, “so I have to think through some things.”

She described being mayor “as an incredibly all-consuming job. It takes you away from your family, not just physically (but also) time-wise ... emotionally and in so many other ways. It’s very hard on families.”

Roberts has two children, ages 13 and 16.

Graham, who served on the Charlotte City Council, posted to Twitter on Friday: “Congrats to Mayor Foxx for excellent four years. … Mayor Graham maybe? Lets get started.”

In an interview, he said he has “always had the goal of either one day running for mayor or Congress, and that is still my goal. I will talk to family, friends and business associates to see whether or not they would work with me and pull together the campaign necessary to win.”

Howard, an at-large council member, said he hasn’t made up his mind.

“It’s too early for me to say,” he said. For now, Howard said he’ll run for an at-large council seat.

Larry Shaheen, a Pineville-based political consultant who has mostly worked on Republican campaigns, said candidates for mayor seat are facing a “very short cycle” to run. “You have April and May and June to get everything organized,” Shaheen said. “You have from July and August to actually run a primary, and then you have September and October to run a general (election).

“A smart candidate announces today.”

Shaheen said Morgan is a client. He said Morgan is “going to look” at running.

Foxx, who is completing his second two-year term, is the city’s first Democratic mayor since Harvey Gantt, whose last year in office was 1987. Republicans held the mayor’s seat for 22 years before Foxx took office in 2009.

Rumors about Foxx’s future began swirling after Bloomberg News reported last month that the Obama administration might be considering him for transportation secretary.

Howard said Foxx told him Thursday that he would not seek re-election. Howard said it didn’t surprise him.

“He’s been kind of giving indications for a while” that he wouldn’t run again, Howard said.

What’s Foxx’s next move?

“I’ve asked,” Howard said. “He’s keeping a very tight lip.” Staff writer Michael Gordon contributed.

Roberts: 704-358-5248 Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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