CHARLOTTE— At least one expert says the race for Charlotte mayor could be the most expensive ever, and that's just for the Democratic primary.
Several Democrats are already campaigning for the mayoral seat and the deadline to file isn't until this summer. The primary is in September.
"It'll probably be the most expensive primary ever, if there's no serious Republican candidate," said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte.
At this point in time no Republican has announced.
"It's increasingly hard for Republican candidates to win here, so if you want to be mayor and you're a Democrat, the election is really in the Democratic primary," said Heberlig.
A few Democrats have already started the race.
City council member Michael Barnes announced last week he's running for mayor, while former county commission chairperson Jennifer Roberts launched her mayoral campaign several months ago.
Although he is not officially running, mayor Dan Clodfelter has filed campaign finance paperwork. He took over after former mayor Patrick Cannon's arrest on corruption charges last year.
"Those who are really serious, they're out there now," said Pat Cotham, a Democrat county commissioner.
Cotham said she sees the mayoral campaigns starting, but she said it's too soon to know who the key players will be since the deadline to file isn't until july.
"In the political world, that's a lifetime," said Cotham. "A lot of things could change, more people could get in, some people could withdraw and decide they don't want to do it."
But for those who are serious about running for mayor, political science experts say it's time to start campaigning.
"If they want to have a chance, they really need to make the decision soon," said Heberlig.
City council members Vi Lyles and David Howard have also been mentioned as possible candidates for mayor.