Raleigh, N.C. — You'd never guess it from the avalanche of negative fliers, but the two candidates vying for the state Senate race in a northwestern Wake County district have been friends for 40 years.
Tom Bradshaw and John Alexander are well-known names in Raleigh. Bradshaw, a Democrat, was mayor of Raleigh in the 1970s and a former state transportation secretary. He has a stretch of Interstate 40 named after him.
Alexander, a Republican, is president of Cardinal International Trucks and has been active in local civic efforts, such as the Triangle Flight of Honor that flew World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., when a new monument opened. A Raleigh YMCA is named for his family.
“We’re friends,” Alexander said. “We are. Have been. And it’s unusual, obviously.”
Wake County Republicans put Alexander's name on the ballot after Rep. Jim Fulghum, who won the May primary for the Senate District 15 seat, died of cancer in July.
The district runs from inside the Raleigh Beltline to the very northern tip of Wake County, taking in some of the area's most affluent and fastest-growing communities. The seat opened after Republican Sen. Neal Hunt retired.
Both Alexander and Bradshaw say education would be their top priority if elected. They agree that it's a good investment in economic development. They would bring different strengths to the job. Bradshaw says his political experience will help him work with a likely Republican majority.
“Now, we can have an election, but then we have to govern,” Bradshaw said, “and we ought to govern together and have discussion. And I think this super-majority they have downtown, we're not allowing discussion because they can just push it right through.”
Alexander hasn't held office before. He says his experience as a small-business owner will help him find ways to cut state spending.
“Try to save the taxpayers some money because they get taxed from the state, the federal government, property tax, sales tax, blah, blah, blah. There's too many of them, and you know, we just need to make sure we're efficient with those dollars,” Alexander said.
Both candidates have done a lot of civic volunteering, often working together on the same boards. No matter what happens Nov. 4, they both say that won't change.
“I have to say Tom and I are running for the same seat – rather than saying against each other,” Alexander said.
“Johnny says we've been friends before and we'll be friends now and we'll be friends afterwards, and if he wins, I'd like to be a resource for him. I would hope he would be a resource to me,” Bradshaw said.
The last day to vote early is Saturday. Election Day is Nov. 4. Voters don't need photo identification to vote this year, but poll workers will ask if you have one.