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Wheeler Ready to Roll

Former Councilwoman preparing for comeback

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It's probably the worst kept political secret in town: Former Charlotte City Council member Lynn Wheeler is laying the groundwork for another at-large run. Wheeler, a staunch supporter of building the new basketball arena downtown, was voted out of office two years ago in the Republican primary. She had hacked off too many conservatives who opposed the city's decision to go forward with the arena after citizens had voted it down in a referendum.

Mecklenburg County Republican Party Chairman John Aneralla said he met with Wheeler a week ago about a potential run.

"She hasn't definitively said that she is running," said Aneralla. "I wouldn't be surprised if she did."

Other sources within the Republican Party told CL they are confident Wheeler will run. Since Wheeler last ran, she has said the arena was a mistake. But many are skeptical about whether that will be enough to pacify conservatives.

"That will be her problem this time, too," said UNCC political science professor Ted Arrington. "Time has gone by, maybe some of the bad feeling has worn off, but I don't think she helped herself by saying the arena was a mistake at this point."

The irony is that Wheeler would probably have done well in the four-seat at-large general elections, where Democrats and moderate Republicans voters typically have supported her.

Aneralla says he expects a higher turnout in the Republican primary this time, which should help Wheeler if she runs. So far, three popular incumbent Republicans, John Lassiter, Patrick Mumford and John Tabor, have said they will run at-large. So has Doug Hanks, a political newcomer. If Wheeler could knock off Hanks, she could run at-large in the general election. That may be harder than it sounds. Wheeler came in fifth two years ago, behind two other political unknowns.

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