Paul Goldman's surprise campaign kickoff for mayor last week is spurring speculation about who else is eyeing a bid.
From City Council President Bill Pantele to former Commonwealth's Attorney David Hicks to the infamous Dirtwoman, the field of speculative candidates is rumored to be deep. The would-be candidate willing to give the most serious confirmation so far is former City Councilwoman Jacqueline "Jackie" M. Jackson.
"I have a team together now," she says. "We're pretty much in."
To get on the ballot, candidates must register with the city registrar by June 10. To date, no one has officially filed to run, an official says, but "plenty have stopped by and picked up packets."
Jackson, 37, was elected to the Richmond School Board in 2000, and in 2002 beat out Reva Trammell for her the Eighth District council seat. Trammell defeated Jackson for the same seat in 2006. Jackson moved to Henrico County, and last year lost a bid for the 74th District House of Delegates seat to Joe Morrissey.
Unfazed by her record of aiming higher and losing bigger, she says this race deals with a different position and voter demographic. "Gov. [Mark] Warner lost his Senate race in 1996," she says, and Sen. Barack Obama "lost his House of Representatives race" in 2000.
To meet the city residency requirement, Jackson's rented an apartment on East Broad Street, 10 blocks from City Hall.
Other potential challengers are less committal, including Hicks, who served as the city's top prosecutor for 12 years.
"My decision is based on whether or not my wife gives me permission," says Hicks, who has three young children, one less than a year old. Permission pending, he says he'll make a decision by mid-April. Whoever the next mayor is, Hicks says he or she will have a "healing job" to do for a city that's more divided racially and politically than before L. Douglas Wilder took office three years ago.
Another frequent Wilder critic, local contractor Al Bowers Jr., hasn't ruled out a run. His construction consulting firm, Bowers Family Enterprises, helps minority contractors get work on government-funded projects such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts expansion and the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park downtown.
Bowers also filed a $250 million lawsuit against Wilder and the city for allegedly telling city contractors not to do business with Bowers' firm.
"The city is completely void of leadership, no doubt about it," Bowers says, adding that a lot of people are interested in supporting him. So is he considering it?
"Oh, definitely," he says.
Although they have a long history, Delegate Dwight C. Jones, D-Richmond, says it won't be personal if he ends up running against Wilder.
"If I run it will be interracial and intergenerational and not about anybody but Dwight Jones," he says, rebuffing suggestions that his campaign could become part of a long series of proxy battles between Wilder and Jones' mentor, state Sen. Henry Marsh.
"I think that he has done what he came to do," Jones says. "He implemented the transition from [appointed] mayor to mayor-at-large." Jones is senior pastor for the 2,000-plus congregation at First Baptist Church of South Richmond.
His official announcement could come shortly after the current General Assembly session ends in two weeks, sources say, but Jones remains coy. "Stay tuned," he says.
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