Candidates scramble for US Rep. Mel Watt's seat

The Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE — The following Democrats are on the ballot for Watt's unexpired term and two-year term beginning in January:

State Rep. Alma Adams of Guilford. An educator and artist, the 67-year-old Adam has been a strong supporter of North Carolina's colleges and an advocate for the arts and culture. She also has fought to raise the minimum wage and to create jobs.

State Rep. Marcus Brandon, 39, of High Point. A political consultant, Brandon is North Carolina's only openly gay legislator. He says he doesn't want people to vote for him because he's gay — but because he's the best candidate for the position.

State Sen. Malcolm Graham, 51, of Charlotte. A business executive and former Charlotte City Councilman, he's wants to increase pay for minimum-wage workers and expand economic development opportunities by increasing investment in the private and small business sectors. "I want to make sure the citizens of the district have the opportunity to earn not only a minimum wage, but a living wage. That way they can reinvest back in their families, build stable communities and send their kids to college," he said.

George Battle III, 41, of Charlotte. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board attorney, this is Battle's first try for public office. "These are serious times for our country and we need serious people who are dedicated to finding solutions to our most pressing problems ... The most important issue facing the district is economic mobility. By that, I refer to the ability of folks who were born outside of wealth to even make it to the middle class," he said.

Curtis Osborne, 44, a Charlotte attorney. Saying he's not a career politician, Osborne has promised to fight attempts by tea party Republicans to limit the rights of the working class and African-Americans to vote.

James Mitchell Jr., 51, is a former Charlotte City Councilman. The economy is the most important issue. "I am incredibly passionate about generating interest and investments in our community — putting people to work and lifting them into the middle class."

The following Democrat also is on the ballot for a full term beginning in January:

Rajive Patel, 65, is the former mayor of East Spencer. A Vietnam veteran, Patel said he wants to protect the rights of veterans, support teachers and preserve public assistance programs.

The following Republicans are seeking a full term:

Vince Coakley, 48, a radio host and former North Carolina television news anchor. Coakley said he's running on a platform of "freedom," saying it's the foundation for job creation. He also supports smaller government.

Leon Threatt, 66, of Matthews, is pastor of Christian Faith Assembly church, a former Marine sergeant and police officer. He's calling for smaller government and return to traditional values.

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