Mayoral race heats up - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

7.18.03

Mayoral race heats up

With a chorus from his supporters, Mayor Harper Peterson files the formal paperwork that makes him a candidate for re-election, "we've got strong momentum, we're going to carry it for the next two-and-a-half months and we're going to win."

Experts say Peterson has a head start. He is known by nine out of ten voters, and so far his opponents are virtual unknowns. Spence Broadhurst is also running for mayor.

He is a successful banking executive and a community volunteer, and thinks of himself as a political outsider, "I think it's what people want. They want fresh ideas. I don't think they want the same turmoil and chaos as we've been seeing."

Apparently, contributors with some very deep pockets agree. By next week, Broadhurst will have collected nearly $120,000 in contributions, already more than double the amount Mayor Peterson raised in 2001.

"An incumbent has the opportunity to be on television and in the media on a regular basis," Broadhurst said. "A challenger doesn't have that opportunity. So it's something we have to do."

Peterson says he's not competing in the so-called "money race." To fill the gap, he'll reach out to voters who feel "left out."

"The good ole boys are alive and well," he said to a crowd on Friday. "But they're going to have to make room at the table."

The mayor's race will be even tougher for this candidate, Wal-Mart clerk Carl Dean Bailey, who refuses to raise a dime.

"I don't want the people's money, I just want their vote so I can give them tax relief," said Bailey.

Whether they spend nothing, or more than a hundred-thousand dollars, the prize is the same. A job that pays $16,000 a year.

Reported by: Aaron Saykin

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