I love Memphis politics. Just when you think that things won’t get any stranger, they do. I didn’t see this story until late tonight, but apparently the former mayor told a local radio host that he won’t be running for his old job in the special election after all.
It seems he was just yanking Myron Lowery’s chain. He didn’t put it exactly that way, saying he was trying to send a message. I’m willing to take him at his word, but I have to say that the message that some people got was that he had bumped his head on something hard and had lost the ability to make sense for a while. My favorite part was the quote: “I’ve prayed about this. I think the Lord has sent me so many signals that now is the time for me to go to a different level.” Frankly, the mixed signals appear to be entirely from ex-Hizzoner. It seems rude for him to blame the Almighty for his inability to make a rational decision.
It also didn’t seem to be much of a surprise when he said his 2007 run was to keep former councilwoman and state representative Carol Chumney out of the mayor’s office. Interesting that he admits this after calling Lowery “mean-spirited.” I interviewed Chumney several times when she was serving in the Legislature. She’s bright and I think she has the best interests of the city at heart. Some people believe she’s got some bottled-up anger. After what Herenton said today, would that be a surprise?
He believes the “affable” county mayor, AC Wharton will win the special election. Wharton is, in fact, affable, although it didn’t come across as terribly positive the way Herenton used it. I wonder whether Mr. Wharton is wishing that Herenton wouldn’t mention his name at all, so as to avoid even the impression of an endorsement.
Also interesting is what the former mayor said about his city pension. He’s apparently taken the amount as a lump sum – more than $500,000. Local observers say he wanted to be sure to get the pension locked in quickly, so he wouldn’t lose the money if, as rumored, the feds came after him for something. I certainly don’t know that he’s done anything illegal, and don’t want to suggest that. But I will end by mentioning Alcee Hastings.
Hastings was a federal judge in Florida for 10 years. I moved to Gainesville right at the end of his time in office. He was tried for accepting a bribe and for lying about it, but was acquitted when his alleged co-conspirator wouldn’t testify against him. He was impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the U.S. Senate. But rather than just go off in disgrace, Hastings got himself elected to Congress, where he’s been ever since (he’s also on Facebook, but nowadays, who isn’t?).
Willie’s still running for Congress. And he may be waiting for another word from above.