With three weeks before the May 4 primary, it's not clear whether voters will get to see N.C. Rep. Nick Mackey side-by-side with Democratic opponent Rodney Moore any more. He missed another chance this morning.
The two were scheduled to answer questions from the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, but Mackey phoned chairwoman Sarah Stevenson and told her he'd been called out of town. On Saturday, he was invoted to a debate at the Mecklenburg Democratic convention. And he won't be at the League of Women Voters' televised debate tomorrow.
Reached by phone, Mackey said he had to cancel Tuesday morning's appearance when an emergency arose. He said he had conflicts for the convention and the League debates. He said he and Moore have already met, including a joint radio interview and a Black Caucus forum that featured several candidates on stage together.
"We have had numerous debates already, and I don't think you could classify that as ducking," he said.
For his part, Moore avoided direct criticism of his opponent, but alluded to recent effectiveness rankings that showed Mackey last among House Democrats. "We need people who are going to be effective, collaborate well with our delegation," he told the group. "In other words, we need people who will play nice in the sandbox."
Mackey declined to respond. "You know I don't get into mud-slinging," he said.
One member of the Tuesday morning group asked Moore if he had anything to do with a Web site critical of Mackey called nickmackey.com, Moore said no. But the man who did was also at Tuesday's forum.
Bolyn McClung said he started the site three years ago when Mackey was running for sheriff. It has details of a complaint against Mackey by the state bar and headlines such as "Mr. Perfectly Ineffective."
"I'm not obsessive about it," McClung said. "He's just the one sore spot in the county."
Mackey said he hasn't been to the site lately.