There Will Be No Republican Candidate for Mayor of Winston-Salem in Primary Election

There Will Be No Republican Candidate for Mayor of Winston-Salem in Primary Election

12:15am Aug 21, 2013
Scott Cumbie, Chairman of the Forsyth County GOP announced Tuesday that the Republican Party will not have a candidate for Winston-Salem mayor in the 2013 election. The announcement came shortly after candidate James Knox said he was dropping out of the race.
Keri Brown

The race for mayor in Winston-Salem is heating up as we approach the primary election on Sept. 10. But Tuesday night, Republican candidate James Knox announced that he is dropping out of the race.  

James Lee Knox says he will officially withdraw his filing for mayor of Winston-Salem through the Forsyth County Board of Elections by the end of this week. The 56 year-old is a wrecker driver at Coliseum Towing and was elected last November to be the Forsyth County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.

As the only Republican candidate for mayor on the ballot, he says the choice wasn’t easy, but it’s the right one for now.

"Sadly, I hate it because I know that blue-collar working people in this town will not be represented again, but I tried and threw my hat in the ring. My hat basically got stomped on and there were just a handful of people that wanted to make this race personal and there were lots of personal attacks. The attacks were wearing on my family and I decided to choose my family over politics," says Knox.

Knox says the personal attacks came from within the Republican Party.

Last week, the Forsyth County Republican executive committee withdrew its support from Knox because of Facebook comments he has made and an episode in which he used a racial remark.

Scott Cumbie, Chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party, says Knox also filed at the last minute to run as the GOP candidate for mayor and he didn't go through the proper process to gain enough party support for his campaign.

“We started looking for a Republican mayoral candidate last September and we interviewed twelve people. We talked with some great people, even some people who worked with the Bush Administration in the White House who live here in town.  We just couldn’t find the right person who was either able or willing or to serve, so we made the conscious decision in early July not to seek another candidate. We didn’t just want a candidate, we wanted the right candidate,” says Cumbie.

Cumbie says, “With James Knox withdrawing from the race, this just means we won’t have a Republican candidate on the ballot. In fact, I think some of those people we talked to this year will probably think about running in 2016 when they have more time to plan for the mayoral race.”

Knox says he’s thankful for his supporters and isn't ruling out running again for mayor of Winston-Salem in the future. But for now, he says he's looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Forsyth County in his role with the Water and Soil Conservation Board. 

Incumbent Allen Joines will challenge fellow Democrat Gardenia Henley in the Winston-Salem mayor's race.

In the meantime, Cumbie says the Republican Party is focusing on other races. Last night, the GOP announced it will endorse challenger Nick Nelson over incumbent John Bost for mayor of the Village Clemmons.

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