Some statements about bipartisan support at a recent Meridian mayoral candidates forum is leading to some very partisan bickering.
It's the first controversy of the 2009 local election season. A letter sent by the city's Democratic Executive Committee chairman to Republican candidate Cheri Barry.
The letter accused Barry of saying that she's been endorsed by the Republican and Democratic parties.
It read: "You have no right to assert you have the endorsement of
the Democratic Party", calling it an "egregious misrepresentation
that merits a public apology."
What does Barry say about all of this? Newscenter 11 talked to her Tuesday. She did admit she said at a recent forum that the Democratic Party endorsed her as a candidate. However, she said it was simply a bad choice of words.
Barry said it was never her intention to misrepresent or insult any candidate or anyone affiliated with the Democratic Party. She made that comment at the Meridian Housing Authority's mayoral forum.
Barry says she regrets using the word 'endorse'. She said she should have said 'support' because many Democrats have publicly supported her, including well-known attorney Bill Ready, Sr.
Democratic candidate Percy Bland said he was shocked when he heard Barry's comment because he wondered, why would the Democratic Party endorse a Republican candidate? But he says he's glad she cleared the air so candidates can now focus on successfully running their own campaigns.
"So I hope there won't be anymore mistakes, but I'm only human and I'm excited about this campaign, and I'm excited about this campaign moving forward," said Barry.
"I respect Mrs. Barry and I'm not going to talk about any of my opponents in this race," said Percy Bland. "But we have to be very careful of how we represent what we say and what we communicate to the people."
Barry is the only Republican candidate for mayor. Newscenter 11 spoke with other candidates by phone. Joe Norwood said, "It will all work itself out." Casandra Sloan said she didn't hear Barry's comment. However, Sloan said if she said it, it was wrong for her to say because the Democratic Party cannot endorse anyone until after the primaries.