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A Closer Look At Edwin Peacock's Campaign Strategy

WFAE/Sarah Delia

Charlotte is less than two weeks away from electing a new mayor. Democratic candidate Jennifer Roberts and Republican Edwin Peacock face off at the polls November 3rd.

Roberts is the favorite. After all, Charlotte’s electorate is heavily Democratic. Which is why Edwin Peacock’s campaign is focused on winning over unaffiliated voters. WFAE’s Sarah Delia reports.

Edwin Peacock has plans for Charlotte if he’s elected mayor. His first 100 days are roughly mapped out, with a focus on decreasing crime. In a recent interview with WFAE, he described what that plan would entail. 

"Charlotte has a crime problem and we do not have a comprehensive plan to deal with it. In my first 100 days I want to form a citizen’s task force to come up with  a comprehensive plan. I look back on the city’s documents of when was the last time we've done this and closest was 10 years ago. And it was just a very partial thing called the Homicide Task Force," said Peacock. 

But he’s got to win that office on the 15th floor of Charlotte’s Government Center for those plans to come to fruition. Republican political consultant Larry Shaheen believes he has a fighting chance. 

"Edwin doesn't have just a good chance to win he's got a better than good chance to win. Now the issue is going to be about party labeling," said Shaheen.

Shaheen believes in the weeks leading up to the election, Peacock needs to continue his strategy of targeting unaffiliated voters, the second largest group of registered voters in Mecklenburg County. Continuing his grassroots campaigning through TV ads and media appearances is part of that.

After Peacock narrowly lost to Democrat Patrick Cannon in 2013, securing the votes of the unaffiliated could make it possible for Peacock to win over a very blue city. His strategy is to focus on local issues and to try and ignore party labels.

"This is not state government, this is not federal government. These are decisions about how public safety dollars are allocated. How your solid waste decisions work. How your airport functions. What your water quality is like. What your tree canopy will look like. These are the things that people need to know are what touch them every single day," said Peacock.

But that strategy can be tricky says Political Scientist Michael Bitzer. The problem is getting unaffiliated voters to show up. People with strong party connections are typically more likely to go out and vote. 

So while Peacock may be appealing to the right crowd, whether or not they’ll vote—especially during a non presidential election cycle—is debatable.

"In looking back at some of the statistics, actually more registered Republicans typically have a higher turnout rate. But there are many more Democrats. Nearly 50% of the voters in Charlotte are registered Democrats," said Bitzer.

The overall turnout for this election to be 18% to 20%.

So the fate of Peacock’s campaign will be based on two things: can he convince those with no party loyalties he’s right for the job, and even if he can do that—will they actually go to the polls.

Editor's Note: The comments from Edwin Peacock in this story were taken from our 15th Floor podcast which features in depth interviews with Charlotte's mayoral candidates. Jennifer Roberts was invited for her own one-on-one interview, and she did take part in one during the primary. She declined our request for a second interview, citing scheduling conflicts. 

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.