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Mayoral Camps Take Early Swipes 

Pantele camp's early exit polls irk Grey, Jones campaigns.

click to enlarge feat43_pantele_200.jpg

The three major mayoral camps were getting a bit testy this afternoon. Both the Jones and Grey camps were a bit dismissive of talk from Team Pantele that his exit polls seem to signal an early lead for the City Council president.

John Girardi with Bill Pantele's campaign, who has been roving the polls since they opened this morning, expressed confidence early this afternoon based on the informal exit polling in the campaign beyond the 1st, 2nd and 4th districts, which were presumed by many as solid Pantele territory.

“Bill's looking real good in the 5th right now,” Girardi says. “It would be dangerous to assign numbers to it, but I won't say it's surprising.”

Kevin O'Holleran, the Rev. Dwight Jones's campaign manager, brushed off Girardi's comments as big talk.

“My thoughts are it's interesting to express confidence at 2:40 p.m., so we'll see what happens,” O'Holleran says, claiming that the Jones campaign has done no exit polling other than small talk with voters that might provide anecdotal accounting. “But the response we're getting so far has been pretty good.”

The Robert Grey camp also has little time to for anyone even leaning toward calling an early victory in the city's second at-large mayoral race.

“I would not believe what people walking out of the polls are telling you,” says Grey's campaign manager, Lisa Fulton, a seasoned veteran of statewide and national races. She was in Las Vegas four years ago working for a liberal political action committee during Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign watching early election returns: “We were picking out what offices we were going to get.”

Confidence is good, she suggests, but the lesson during the Kerry campaign is it ain't over till it's over. And until it's over, there's still plenty of time for a candidate -- especially in a local election like this one -- to make big gains just by hoofing it at the polls.

“I was out at 5:30 a.m. at [George] Wythe High School this morning putting out signs,” says Fulton, who witnessed the line of early-bird voters stretching around the building. “I called Robert … I called him and I said, get down here quick and he did. He shook everybody's hand. Hopefully they voted for Robert.”

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