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Mayoral Madness

Madans hoping for angry voters and a miracle

To Craig Madans the whole thing just doesn't make sense. First Mayor Pat McCrory botches the arena referendum campaign. Then he and the council go back on their word to abide by the public's resounding "no" vote on the arena. Now the four-term Charlotte mayor wants another two years, but won't actually commit to serving them because something better might come along.Madans thinks Charlotte could do a lot better than that.

"There is a huge dissatisfaction with the way the city is run," said Madans. "The arena was just the pushing over the edge."

Madans, 52, thinks it's time for a change. That's why the brash businessman is taking his second crack at the mayor's office, hoping to capitalize on the public's anger to snatch the mayor's office from McCrory, a 46-year-old Republican who has served four terms.

But for that to work, the public will have to remember two things -- McCrory's record and Madans' name. Madans is doing his best to remind them of both.

"How can you vote for somebody that's telling you that if I'm elected, if the Congress seat opens up, if the Senatorial seat opens, if they pick me as a governor's candidate, I'm going to run," Madans asks. "If your heart is to go elsewhere, you can't give 110 percent."

Madans, a Democrat, says that under McCrory's leadership things just aren't getting done.

"The aquarium issue should have been resolved," said Madans. "It should have been here. Minor league baseball should have been here already. You know it's strange that we would be talking about a billion dollars going into light rail when we don't have the density to even bring in major league baseball. There are certain things that don't match up. But if we spend time completing what needs to be completed, we will have a lot more time to spend on being proactive to things we need to be paying attention to in the future."

Madans may or may not have good points, but what he certainly doesn't have is a lot of time.

With just five weeks left to go in the race, Madans has a long way to go to beat McCrory. Along the streets and thoroughfares of Charlotte's opulent old money neighborhoods, McCrory's campaign signs litter the landscape. A few of Madans' campaign signs have popped up here and there, but with less than $10,000 in the bank -- McCrory has at least $260,000 -- Madans will have to find some way to reach a lot of people quickly to win the race.

In August, Madans told Creative Loafing he was working with a large team of hundreds of volunteers who would help him win the race by going door-to-door and talking with voters, the kind of personal touch McCrory's campaigns have usually lacked. He planned to win the race, he said, with a last-minute blitz in the last two or three weeks of the campaign, funded by the $70,000 he planned to raise. But two months later, most of the money hasn't materialized. Now Madans says he's going to lend his campaign money to bridge the gaps, never a good sign so close to the November election.

But if history is any indicator, the race isn't over yet.

The last time Madans ran for mayor of Charlotte, all hell broke loose in the final weeks of the campaign. It wasn't entirely his fault. Perhaps the biggest mistake Madans made in that 1989 race against then-Mayor Sue Myrick was honestly answering a question about whether he'd ever used drugs. He'd used cocaine and marijuana in college in the early 70s, he admitted after a news conference in which he unveiled a six-point anti-crime program that included strategies to combat illegal drugs.

Myrick, who was known for her anti-drug parades and for bulldozing drug houses, pounded Madans relentlessly on his former drug use and general immorality until Creative Loafing dug up and published court records documenting an extra-marital affair Myrick had in the early 70s. Madans used the affair to fire back until Myrick finally declared a ceasefire right before the election. By then, it was too late. A story on the sordid campaign ran nationally on the television show A Current Affair.

Myrick, a popular mayor before the race, won with only 47 percent of the vote. Madans got 15 percent, running behind Democrat Al Rousso, who had dropped out of the mayoral primary but took 38 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate.

So far, Madans and McCrory have refrained from personal attacks. But Madans, a successful businessman who has owned several companies, has been drawing comparisons between McCrory and himself.

Madans says McCrory's lack of business experience is hurting Charlotte. Before he was mayor, McCrory worked full time at a mid-level job at Duke Power. McCrory still retains that job and receives a paycheck from Duke, but isn't known to show up to work there often as his mayoral duties consume most of his time.

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