Harvey Gantt, Charlotte’s first African-American mayor, endorsed James Mitchell on Thursday morning in the Democratic mayoral primary – a boost to Mitchell’s campaign against Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon.
Gantt said he has watched Mitchell work with neighborhood leaders effectively, and he praised Mitchell’s work “in the business community.” Gantt cited Mitchell’s work as a City Council member to help bring the Charlotte Knights uptown to a new baseball stadium and his work in keeping the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
The City Council earlier this year voted to give the NFL team $87.5 million in exchange for a “hard tether” to keep the team in Charlotte for six years.
“He understands what gives the mayor power in this city,” said Gantt, who was mayor from 1983 to 1987.
Gantt said Mitchell would be the next in a long line of Democratic mayors, including “Stanford Brookshire, Eddie Knox, yours truly, and Anthony Foxx.”
Mitchell and Foxx are personal friends, and Mitchell has used Foxx’s photo in a campaign mailer.
Foxx, who is now U.S. secretary of transportation, has not endorsed anyone in the race, though his support for Mitchell is implied.
The Mitchell campaign said it would be sending out two mailers this weekend touting the Gantt endorsement. The primary is Tuesday.
Gantt’s endorsement could have weight in the Democratic primary, where 63 percent of registered voters in the city are black.
Cannon has been endorsed by the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
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