The real story of the Mike Cross vs Jeffrey Starkweather split

By Mike Fox

Moncure, NC – In 2004 when Mike Cross was first running for Commissioner, I was working closely with him. Two years previously a disastrous commissioner majority had been elected with a combination of dirty tricks, out of county money, and superior organization, and we were determined to fight back. So when the Chatham Coalition was formed and offered their help we gratefully accepted because we knew a strong organization was going to be required to push back against the forces that had stuck us with the previous board majority.

Jeff Starkweather's Chatham Forward PAC continues to hate on Mike Cross.

Jeff Starkweather’s Chatham Forward PAC continues to hate on Mike Cross.

At first the Chatham Coalition was a truly diverse group that included a lot of different types of people from all over the county, and we all worked well together. But as time went on it narrowed to basically Jeffrey Starkweather and his group as more people became turned off by the tactics and demands for ideological purity. At that time we didn’t know what was to come and worked successfully with them for most of the 2004 Democratic primary campaign and won convincingly.

However near the end of the following general election campaign Jeff Starkweather came to Mike Cross with dirt he had dug up on Mike’s Republican opponent. I’m not going to repeat the dirt or even repeat who he was dirt digging on but he brought it to Mike and asked him what he wanted to do with the information.  Mike’s response surprised me, his answer was “forget you ever saw it!”

I’m not proud of the fact that I disagreed with Mike. I wanted to use the dirt.  But Mike stood firm, showing me for the first (but far from the last) time that he’s a leader with true integrity, much more so than I. So I reluctantly acquiesced to Mike’s wishes and never tried to use this information.

Jeff Starkweather took a different approach. Against Mike Cross’s wishes, he tried to get the dirt out there.  Quite clumsily I might add.  When Mike found out he was furious.  Furious not only that Jeffrey had ignored his wishes, but furious that people would think he was behind it, and also furious that his opponent, who Mike saw as a decent person with whom he simply disagreed on the issues, was being subjected to it.

This is the real reason for the split between Mike Cross and Jeffrey Starkweather. Jeffrey may claim that it’s for issues or ideological reasons, but that’s all a whitewash.  This is the real reason.

Judging from the latest mailing that Jeff Starkweather’s group has sent out, repeating a false and discredited claim that the GOP endorses Mike Cross, it looks like 12 years later Jeffrey is still up to his old tricks. But this time, Jeffrey appears to have finally found a candidate who is happy to accept dirty tricks on his behalf. So congratulations to Jeffrey on that.

Even if we lose I’m proud to be supporting the candidate who refuses that type of “help”.

Proudly supporting Mike Cross for 12 years.