The most interesting thing about McFarlane's announcement was the group that showed up in support. It included Councilor Russ Stephenson, an at-large Council member of the progressive (and Democratic) stripe, and such leading Raleigh Democrats as Nina Szlosberg-Landis, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns, Cynthia Ball and Charles Malone. They mixed with a group of neighborhood activists including Bill Padgett, Octavia Rainey and Will Allen. The campaign team includes Democrats Perry Woods and Tim McKay and Patty Brigulio, whose Republican leanings were revealed when she challenged President Barack Obama's health care policies in this memorable exchange at Broughton High School. Brigulio's public relations firm works for McFarlane's specialty pharmacy business, MedPro Rx Inc.
McFarlane is a registered independent, but she's obviously counting on attracting Democrats as well as independent and moderate Republican voters. So far, no Democratic opponent has emerged — and indeed, Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin took herself out of the race yesterday (see below) while Stephenson's been clear for months that he preferred to see McFarlane seek the job (a $15,000 a year, 40-hours a week gig) rather than run for it himself. Councilor Thomas Crowder, the leading neighborhoods advocate on Council and its longest-serving member, didn't come out for McFarlane today, but he says he's not going to run against her either.
On the other hand, Dan Coleman, a Southeast Raleigh leader, sent an email to some of his political allies last night lamenting Mayor Charles Meeker's decision not to seek a sixth term and decrying the apparent willingness of most Raleigh Democrats to accede to McFarlane's independent campaign.
Having shared my reticence about our Mayor retiring I am asking that each of you take the time to evaluate where we are headed. I am awfully suspicious of the Democratic Party’s willingness to not recruit solid Democrats for this very public position though it is indeed non-partisan. The mere idea that there will be a push to elect solid Democrats to the Wake County School Board while positioning a non-Democrat to be the next Mayor of Raleigh portends to be an awfully funky ‘dog and pony show’ that will ultimately, in my humble opinion, leave our base rudderless and just a mere pawn in the re-shaping of Raleigh and Wake County politics.
The rest of Coleman's email questions whether Southeast Raleigh will be well-treated when it comes to future transit planning and the uses of a possible 1/2-cent sales tax for transit in Wake County. Count him as not on the McFarlane team, though Rainey — another longtime Southeast Raleigh leader — is.
On the question of what happens if a capable Democrat does enter the race, Cynthia Ball said the party leadership presumably would be called on to endorse him/her. But Ball added that, as far as she's concerned, McFarlane is allied with progressive causes in Raleigh, and besides, the Raleigh City Council is officially non-partisan. "We have our candidate," Ball said.
Stephenson, too, said he's excited about McFarlane's candidacy. "She's soft-spoken," said Stephenson, "but she's a very thoughtful, common-sense person."
This was yesterday:
True, her press release doesn't say so. Maybe her "discussion" of the 2011 mayoral race will focus on — oh, never mind, of course she's running now that Meeker isn't.
[Update: The N&O reports that Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin won't run for mayor. She wasn't expected to run, to my knowledge.]
Who is Nancy McFarlane? She's an unaffiliated voter — neither Democrat nor Republican. Further, according to her statement:
About Nancy McFarlane:
Nancy McFarlane is a Raleigh city councilor, a pharmacist and the president of MedPro Rx, Inc., an accredited specialty infusion pharmacy that provides infusion medications and services to clients with chronic illnesses. Passionate about maintaining and improving the quality of life in Raleigh, Nancy has served on the Council as representative of District A since 2007. As chair of the Council’s Comprehensive Planning Committee and a member of the Budget and Economic Development Committee, she is active in campaigning for responsible development that protects not only the quality of life in Raleigh but also the environment. Nancy is also a liaison to the following organizations: Wake County Elected Officials Transit Work Group, Raleigh Arts Commission and United Arts Council, Upper Neuse Rivers Basin Association, Substance Abuse Advisory Council, Storm Water Management Utility Commission, Triangle J Council of Governments, Water Advisory Committee, Sister Cities, and Wake County Schools. For more information about Nancy McFarlane, visit http://www.nancymcfarlane.com.
The rest of the press release is below.
*** MEDIA ALERT ***
Nancy McFarlane To Discuss 2011 Raleigh Mayoral Race
Who: Raleigh City Councilor Nancy McFarlane
What: Raleigh City Councilor Nancy McFarlane will hold a press conference to discuss the 2011 Raleigh Mayoral Race.
Where: Nash Square, located at 200 W. Hargett St. in Raleigh.
In the event of rain, the press conference will be held in the Avery Upchurch Municipal Building, located at 222 W. Hargett St. in Raleigh.
When: Wednesday, April 27 at 10 a.m.
Misc.: Current Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker announced on April 26 that he would not seek a sixth term. Meeker has served as mayor of Raleigh since 2001.