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Ex-anchor Vince Coakley enters congressional race

Saying he’s running on a platform of “freedom,” former Charlotte journalist and radio personality Vince Coakley jumped into the 12th Congressional District race Tuesday.

Coakley, 48, is the first Republican in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. Mel Watt. Only 16 percent of the district’s voters are registered Republicans.

Six Democrats are also running in the district that stretches from Charlotte to Greensboro.

Coakley announced his campaign in a six-city tour that started in Greensboro and ended at Charlotte’s Dilworth Neighborhood Grille before an audience of about 30 people, many of them conservative or tea party Republicans.

Coakley spent 18 years as a news anchor for WSOC TV and a year hosting a conservative afternoon talk show on WBT (1110 AM). A native of Cincinnati, he started his broadcast career three decades ago at a small radio station in Delaware. He succeeded Bill Walker as a prime anchor at Channel 9 in 2005.

Coakley, now a media consultant and out-of-town talk show host, started working at WBT in 2011.

According to his website, “It is through talk radio that Vince has developed his own ‘voice’ and message, highlighting the principles of liberty above political parties and personalities.”

On Tuesday, Coakley said he always was conflicted about being a nonpartisan journalist.

“There’s always been a conflict for me,” he said. “What we don’t do well in the mainstream news media – the local media especially – is cover things that matter to people.”

Those things, he said, include public policies. He said jobs are the issue at the heart of what he called his “freedom agenda.”

“I realized I need to step up to the plate to be a messenger – a messenger for freedom,” he said. “Big government and freedom do not go together.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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