Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane lashed out Tuesday against electoral challenger Charles Francis, associating him with “Donald Trump and his America First policies” after Francis spoke to a Wake County Republican Party meeting Monday night.
Francis responded that he's a proud Democrat who wants to reach out to voters all over Raleigh.
McFarlane, who is politically unaffiliated, faces Democrat Francis in a November 7 runoff following an October 10 election in which she garnered 48.45 percent of the vote to Francis's 36.67 percent. The officially nonpartisan race has seen both Francis and McFarlane receive campaign donations from high-profile Republicans and Democrats.
“Unlike Charles Francis, I will not court GOP party leadership that fervently supports Donald Trump and his America First policies which are only further dividing our country,” McFarlane said in a statement Tuesday.
Francis responded that he had attended a Democratic Party meeting and the GOP meeting Tuesday.
“I told the group in attendance that I am a proud lifelong Democrat and despite their party not having a candidate in the November 7th election that they should be participatory in the electoral process for the next mayor of Raleigh," Francis said in a statement.
The Wake County Republican Party did not return a call.
"Mayoral candidate Charles Francis For Raleigh (democrat) accepted Wake GOP's invitation to talk to us while current Mayor Nancy McFarlane declined," Wake County Republican Party executive board member Eléna Martina said on her Facebook page Tuesday.
In another twist, conservative Republican Paul Fitts, who finished third on October 10, has also expressed a preference for Francis.
In her statement, McFarlane criticized Francis for injecting partisan politics into the officially nonpartisan race. The Wake County Democratic Party, which had endorsed McFarlane in the past, endorsed Francis this year.
“This is a nonpartisan race and repeated attempts to insert DC-style politics into Raleigh's elections hinder our city's success," McFarlane said. "There are many Republicans who have supported me because of Raleigh's wise fiscal policy and success promoting entrepreneurship and job growth.”
Francis said he had attended a Democratic Party event honoring Secretary of State Elaine Marshall before responding to the GOP invitation to attend their meeting.
“I am running for mayor to represent all of Raleigh," he said. “I encourage all voters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to take part in the November 7th election. I plan to campaign across Raleigh in community centers and living rooms to ensure that all individuals can make an informed decision on who they will support.”
Martina responded to a poster's question about whether Francis spoke out against tax increases and fee increases, giving Republicans a reason to back the Democratic candidate.
"He's against real estate tax increases, and no more bike lanes, etc.," Martina responded. "He came out not to be debated but heard. It was gracious of him to show up. It certainly made me want to vote for him in November's runoff for the simple fact that he SHOWED UP."
Early voting begins Thursday.