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Willingham Gets GOP Nod for Mayor

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BY JACKSON BAKER | AUGUST 3, 2007

Mayoral candidate John Willingham finally got the support he's been seeking for years - an official endorsement from the local Republican Party, whose steering committee had spurned the maverick politician in various races over the years.

Willingham got a 19-17 majority vote Thursday night from the party's steering committee, which thereby overruled both a candidate recruitment subcommittee, which had formally recommended no endorsement, and party chairman Bill Giannini, who had made no secret of his wish that Republicans avoid endorsing a candidate in the mayor's race.

"The prevailing sentiment was that Willingham was the only one on the list who had been a loyal, lifelong Republican, and he was entitled to respect and support," said a steering committee member who voted with the majority.

Though Willingham, who has been polling in the lower single digits, clearly has huge obstacles to surmount in his effort to achieve viability, there is no doubt that the former county commissioner will draw significant benefit from the party endorsement, which carries with it ample support in the form of mail-outs and other official activity.

By the same token, the campaigns of Carol Chumney and Herman Morris, both of whom have harbored hopes of support from rank-and-file Republicans, may be blunted somewhat.

The steering committee also made endorsements in selected council races. They are as follows:

District 1: Rudolph Daniels

District 2: Bill Boyd

Super-District 8, Position 2: David Vinciarelli

Super-District 9, Position 1: Scott McCormick

Super-District 9, Position 2: Kemp Conrad

Super-District 9, Position 3: Reid Hedgepeth

In two districts, the committee singled out candidates for "favorable consideration" but did not formally endorse them.

Those were:

District 3: Harold Collins

District 5: Jim Strickland

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