Though Charlotte City Council members haven't had serious discussions about who to appoint should Mayor Pat McCrory win his bid for governor, they've already heard several names who might seek appointment or election. One name stands out among Republicans: Councilman John Lassiter.
Lassiter said last week that he's "begun the process of determining whether it is something I should do and can accommodate the demands of my business and family." Lassiter hasn't ruled out seeking appointment or running in 2009 -- or both -- if McCrory wins the Nov. 4 election against Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat.
A Rasmussen Reports survey released May 12 showed McCrory leading with 45 percent of 500 likely voters polled supporting him, while 39 percent support Perdue. Should McCrory win, he'd be the first former Charlotte mayor in the governor's mansion. The Mecklenburg County Republican Party's executive committee would then select a replacement, subject to approval from the Democrat-majority City Council.
Council Democrats, who hold a 7-4 majority, say they won't approve an interim mayor who also intends to run for the office. "You don't want to create an incumbent," said Councilwoman Nancy Carter. "That's not fair."
But Council Republicans say such an agreement is not ironclad. "Incumbency, whether it's ten years or nine months, can convey an advantage," said Councilman Warren Cooksey. "Of course, it's going to depend on who the crop of interested candidates are, but in the abstract, I do find that tradition to be a valuable one to maintain consideration for ... I value that tradition, but I don't consider myself bound by it."
Said Councilman Edwin Peacock: "That tradition makes sense, but it's not a hard and fast rule."
Several Democrats say that, while it may not be official policy, tradition dictates that someone appointed to fill out a term agrees not to run for the office in the next election. "That's how it's always been done," said Councilman Warren Turner. "It's kind of one of those mutual agreements."
Democrats on the Council say such parameters were followed -- and encouraged by McCrory -- when Al Rousso stepped down in 1999 for health reasons and, more recently, Malcolm Graham vacated his Council seat to join the state Senate. "I like the process that's in place right now," Turner said. "But if they deviate from it, it will be very interesting to see how it goes."
Lassiter isn't the only Republican that's been talked about to fill out McCrory's term; former Council members Pat Mumford, Don Reid and Lynn Wheeler also have been mentioned. Mumford said he would consider the possibility if approached, but "it's not something that I am seeking."
Several Democrats are being talked about to run in 2009: state Sen. Malcolm Graham; Council members Susan Burgess and Anthony Foxx; past Council candidate Darrell Bonapart; and perennial mayoral candidate Craig Madans. Graham said the mayor's office has been a goal ever since he was a student at Johnson C. Smith University.
Several Council members, Democrat and Republican, agreed on one thing: Should McCrory win, the 2009 mayor's race will be something to watch. "It's obviously going to be very interesting," Peacock said. "The sky's kind of the limit right now."