WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Ilario Pantano's and Mike McIntyre's race for Congress is picking up momentum. Now, some are wondering if an endorsement will be a speed bump to one candidate's campaign.
Just when you thought we had heard the last of Will Breazeale, the Republican candidate for Congress has come out saying he will now support his former Democratic opponent. The reason, he says, he couldn't stand on the sidelines anymore.
"Even though I initially distanced myself from endorsing anyone, after watching the debate last Friday, it became very apparent for me that I need to get involved and make a decision," Breazeale told WWAY by phone today. Breazeale's decision: to turn his back on fellow Republican Pantano and throw his support behind Democratic incumbent McIntyre.
"It became obvious to me that Pantano is about sound bites and emotion. McIntyre is about knowledge, qualifications and leadership," Breazeale said. It's a much different tune than Breazeale sang during his 2008 campaign against McIntyre and even during the Republican primary this year.
"One of my major beefs with McIntyre was he refused to endorse me," Breazeale said. "In fact, he refused to endorse anybody since 1996, since he was elected. He has responded this time, and has agreed to additional debates so it's hard for me to criticize him on that anymore. He has stepped up to the plate. He had an open debate that was televised, so that concern has gone away."
Breazeale admits his endorsement may have not have happened if McIntyre faced someone other than Pantano. Pantano's campaign manager said in a statement, "We are disappointed at the levels that our opponents would be willing to stoop to slander our good name... The issues and challenges are too great to be side-tracked by a failed candidate who was soundly rejected in two straight elections."
The criticism against Breazeale's endorsement does not stop there. Frank Williams, the 7th District GOP Chair, said in a statement, "If I were Mike McIntyre, I would not want this endorsement from Will Breazeale's 'Sour Grape Express.'"
We called Rep. McIntyre's campaign manager and office several times to get a response to the endorsement. So far, no one has not called us back.