Meeker won't run again — I think. If he doesn't, McFarlane will. | Citizen
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Meeker won't run again — I think. If he doesn't, McFarlane will.

Posted by on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Mayor Charles Meeker
  • Mayor Charles Meeker
Democrats ask me. Republicans ask me. (That's right, I know some Republicans.) Is Mayor Meeker going to run again? They ask me this not because I know — I don't — but because Meeker isn't saying, and they want to check their own lack of knowledge about his plans against mine.

So about every other day, I tell somebody, I don't think he's going to run; he sure doesn't look like he's going to run; he acts like he's not going to run; but then — two years, he all but told me he wasn't going to run again and then he did. And this year, he's told me nothing. So take all that for what it's worth.

That said, I have it on excellent authority that Meeker told a fellow Wake County mayor yesterday, in the presence of another mayor of a different political persuasion, that he would not be running for a sixth term come October.

Additionally, I don't think you can read Meeker's "State of the City" remarks earlier this week as anything but valedictory. Meeker took questions afterward, and most of the reporting you've heard about his forward-looking plans came in the Q&A. But the speech itself was couched in the past tense: How Raleigh has become a leader in sustainability, how Raleigh has forged a working partnership with N.C. State, how Raleigh should build on its record of past successes.

The only forward-looking element of the speech was about the Council considering putting a modest little bond package on the ballot in October. About $15 million for affordable housing (could you ask for less? the city is out of AH money), and a trivial $30-40 million for small-scale transportation projects. This was not the speech of a mayor rallying public opinion to his side for anything. It's time for Raleigh's private sector to get rolling, he said at one point. But in describing his possible bond package, he remarked that for government, caution is the order of the day.

Until Meeker makes his intentions known, other prospective candidates are chilling. My conversations with Republicans indicate that if Meeker does run, there won't be a serious GOP candidate — the Republicans do not think they can beat him. (On the other hand, if he doesn't run, watch out for Art Pope's wallet. Pope's Republicans now control the state, the county ... the only holdouts are in eastern Libya and downtown Raleigh.)

And the Democrats? I haven't heard of any. The only seriously unannounced contender to date is City Councilor Nancy McFarlane, an independent (i.e., unaffiliated voter).

If Meeker does run, McFarlane won't. If he doesn't, I'm told she'll jump in immediately. From what I've also been told, Meeker hasn't confided his plans to McFarlane either, other than to say that he will make his official announcement the last week in April.

The other six Council members, I believe, will all seek another term: Stephenson, Baldwin, Crowder, Gaylord, Odom and Weeks.

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