Republican candidate James Lee Knox ended his campaign for mayor of Winston-Salem on Tuesday, saying that the decision of the county GOP to pull support from his campaign makes his task impossible.
Knox said that GOP leaders were endorsing a “smear campaign” against him, but that he would continue to support the party.
Last Thursday, GOP leaders met and voted not to support Knox’s campaign.
Complaints were made about the tone of postings by Knox on Facebook, and over Knox’s use of a racial epithet to describe a black county elections worker with whom he had argued in 2012.
Knox used the n-word to describe the woman during a conversation with another county worker.
Knox acknowledged using the term, said Tuesday that it was a mistake and that he’s not a racist.
David Singletary, Knox’s campaign manager, said that Knox will be filing the paperwork he needs to in order to formally end his candidacy with the Forsyth County Board of Elections.
Singletary said that Knox didn’t want to put his family through what he saw as a conflict with GOP leaders that could only escalate.
In his statement, Knox described his conflict with GOP leaders as a family dispute. He said he and others in the party would “find a way to get past this,” and that they would keep making it possible for anyone to run for office “and sometimes even win.”
Knox’s departure from the campaign means that the winner of the Democratic primary battle between incumbent Mayor Allen Joines and Gardenia Henley, his challenger, will go on to the November general election without opposition.
Scott Cumbie, chairman of the Forsyth County GOP, said that he felt “grateful” about Knox’s announcement.
“We think he made the right decision,” Knox said. “I do agree this is a family issue and I regret that it made it into the press the way it did. This is about the mayoral race and not Mr. Knox.”
The withdrawal means the winner of the Democratic primary between incumbent Allen Joines and Gardenia Henley won’t face opposition in November.