If you're a Democrat in Charlotte, it doesn't get much worse than being linked to Republican legislators who pushed the Charlotte Douglas International Airport takeover.
That's exactly what happened in the Democratic primary for mayor. The gloves have come off after a largely civil campaign.
Democratic city councilman and mayoral candidate James Mitchell threw the first real punch Thursday.
"Democrats in Charlotte do not agree with Patrick Cannon," he said. "They agree with me."
Mitchell read from a four-age statement and questioned whether Cannon was against the controversial state takeover of airport operations.
"Cannon's position on what should be done with Charlotte Douglas airport is the same as Ruth Samuelson, Bob Rucho and the other Raleigh Republicans who pushed the takeover from the beginning," the statement read.
When asked, Mitchell insisted Cannon has explored solutions outside the city's lawsuit against the Airport Commission.
"If you're talking about exploring other options, then I feel like you're leaning more to what some of the Tea Party Republicans want to do," Mitchell said.
Cannon calls Mitchell's claim ridiculous.
"There's nothing to support that claim, absolutely is not true," he said.
Cannon said, that like all members of Charlotte City Council, he has repeatedly denounced the state's effort to take over control of the airport.
"When I hear stuff like this, I know it's an election year, but it's quite silly to be honest with you," Cannon said of Mitchell's claims.
Political expert Michael Bitzer said a calm campaign for mayor appears to be getting ugly.
"This is a pretty hard-hitting opening salvo to what looks like is going to be a bitter primary contest," Bitzer said.
Early voting has started, but there are still 12 days before primary election day on Sept. 10. Bitzer said that's plenty of time for candidates to light some fireworks.