City Council candidate John Tarantino (right) said this afternoon that he's endorsing County Commissioner Joe Bowser for mayor in Tuesday's primary election.
"I'm aligned with Bowser and encouraging my friends to vote for Bowser," he said.
Bowser (below), who has more than a year left on his commissioner's term, is challenging incumbent Mayor Bill Bell. Retired salesman Ralph McKinney and minister Sylvester Williams are also in the race.
Tarantino is one of seven candidates for three at-large Council seats. Tuesday's voting will eliminate one, as well as two mayoral candidates, leaving the survivors to face off in the Nov. 8 general election.
Tarantino said he decided to come out for Bowser after Williams's campaign began passing out sample ballots encouraging votes for three black City Council candidates: Solomon Burnette, Donald Hughes and Victoria Peterson.
"The worst thing that can happen is nothing," he said.
Tarantino said he was miffed because he had given Williams support, including financial support, in a past campaign for City Council.
Bowser is also black, as is Bell; Tarantino is white, and said Williams, Burnette, Hughes and Peterson appeared to have formed a bloc after the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, one of Durham's major political organizations, decided against making endorsements for the primary.
Williams, Hughes and Peterson have said the Durham Committee's political subcommittee recommended them for endorsement, but the full Committee did not accept the recommendation. Peterson said the political subcommittee also favored Burnette, but Burnette declined to comment.
"The candidates scrambled and formed an alliance," Tarantino said.
The People's Alliance, another major Durham PAC, has endorsed Bell along with council incumbents Eugene Brown and Diane Catotti and former School Board member Steve Schewel. An Alliance campaign mailer promotes the four as a team in the elections.
Brown, Catotti and Schewel are white.