More than a month after Mayor Charles Meeker announced he wouldn't seek a record sixth consecutive term, the field of contenders for his seat is beginning to take shape.
For now, it's one definite and a maybe.
Raleigh real estate executive Billie Redmond, a registered Republican, said last week she's considering a bid. The news was cheered by Wake County GOP leaders eager to make gains in the Oct. 11 city election.
The lone declared candidate for mayor is City Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane, who plans to run as an independent.
McFarlane's formula is to win support from Meeker's left-leaning, downtown-centric coalition while also appealing to suburban-minded voters in North Raleigh, where she lives, said Andy Taylor, an N.C. State University political scientist.
The McFarlane campaign expects opposition, said Perry Woods, McFarlane's political strategist.
"Whether it's Billie or whomever, I'm not surprised the Republicans are trying to find somebody to run," Woods said. "I would be very surprised if (Nancy) doesn't get an opponent."
Redmond can rely on longstanding ties to the business community. She's chief executive of Coldwell Banker Commercial TradeMark Properties, a local firm active in 11 Southeastern states.
Redmond recently completed a 10-year term on the board at WakeMed and led a committee in 2007 to help the school district find and buy land for schools.
"We'll be thrilled if she runs," said Susan Bryant, Wake County's GOP chairwoman. "She has lots of credibility, a great business background."
Redmond and her husband, Kemp Harris, live off Wade Avenue near Dixie Trail. This would be Redmond's first bid for elected office. The filing period runs through Aug. 12.
Barring more candidates, a McFarlane-Redmond matchup would mean Raleigh's next mayor would not be a Democrat.
The Democrats lost a prime contender when Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin decided not to run, citing family obligations. Baldwin's father died last year, and her 88-year-old mother moved in with her in July.
But don't call Redmond a candidate just yet. The UNC-Chapel Hill graduate said she needs to spend more time consulting with friends and family before reaching a decision.
"I'm a very common-sense, solutions-oriented person," she said last week. "One of my questions really is, when you layer on the political process: 'Does that fit my leadership style?'"