Former mayors headed for May 15 showdown

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Larry L. “Butch” Brown, above left, goes over numbers from the precincts with Philip Carby during Brown’s watch party Tuesday night at the Isle of Capri hotel. Phillip West, above right , holds hands with Mary Woods, during a prayer at the Brick House Tuesday night. Brown and West will face off in a May 15 runoff.

NATCHEZ — The runner-up in Tuesday night’s mayoral Democratic primary admitted he might need a slingshot to defeat Larry L. “Butch” Brown in the May 15 runoff.

But Phillip West said he will be ready for the battle.

“I feel a bit like David going up against Goliath,” West said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I am up for it.”

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Brown received 45 percent of the votes with 2,028 votes. West received 39 percent of the votes with 1,755 votes. The men were separated by 273 votes.

Brown said Tuesday night the primary went very much like he predicted, although he said he hoped he would win the Democratic nomination for mayor outright.

Brown said he feels confident going into the runoff election against West.

“Mr. West and I have been opponents before, and I have won, but he is a very formidable opponent and a very good friend,” Brown said.

West said this year’s race for mayor has been the most difficult election in which he has ever participated based on the connections Brown has been able to make with the community throughout his life.

West said he would be changing his strategy slightly for the runoff election, but he said he has not yet figured out what specific focus his campaign will have going forward.

“I will probably do some things in the runoff that I did not do in the primary,” he said.

Brown said he does not expect any negative campaigning from West.

“I don’t think there will be any negative politics like we had before the primary,” he said.

West said he was proud of the showing his camp was able to make for the primary, despite its limited financial resources.

“We were able to stand tall and be competitive, and I’m very thankful to my friends, family and supporters for that,” he said.

Brown said he feels confident that he will be successful in the runoff election and the general election.

“I feel very confident that I will be the next mayor of Natchez,” Brown said. “And I look forward to serving the people.”

The winner of the May 15 runoff will face Republican candidate Bob Buie and independent candidate Bill Furlow in the June 5 election.

Incumbent Jake Middleton received 15.5 percent of the vote with 699 votes. Middleton said he did not want to discuss the race, but instead provided a written statement saying he was grateful for the last four years of success and growth in Natchez and proud of the achievements of his administration.

“I’m appreciative to my wife, Mitzi, and the rest of my family for standing behind me,” Middleton said. “This has been a long and tough campaign, but we’ve enjoyed the time spent with the voting public. We’ve come a long way in Natchez, and I’ve enjoyed my time of service.”

Middleton said he gives his best wishes to his successor.

“I pledge total cooperation and a smooth transition,” he said.

Middleton said he is looking forward to some time off from public office.

“It has been a highlight of my life to serve the last 20 years in an elected capacity, but I look forward to a quiet life with my wife and family,” he said.