All Over But the Shouting?

As I’ve said before, I’m a really big fan of Memphis politics.  Short of living in Chicago or New Jersey, I can’t imaging a place that has wackier stuff going on.  There’s still a clown car full of folks running in the special election to replace former Mayor Herenton, and that’s got to be good for some old fashioned entertainment. Bill Dries, one of the city’s best journalists, runs down the race of 25 in the Daily News.

I’m not taking sides, nor do I plan to be overly critical of any of the candidates running for that office. Frankly, I’m not one of those how believe that the less well-known people should get out of the race. Nothing of the kind. Not only should they stay in the race, it’d be fine with me if a few more people had gotten in. It’s not a waste of anybody’s time, money or effort.

Early and Often!

Early and Often!

Let’s remember, this is a representative democracy. And the sheer beauty of this form of government is that anybody — anybody — can run for any office they can qualify for. That’s a good thing. How many people knew who Jimmy Carter was when he ran for president? He was a one-term governor of Georgia (and if you talk to people who were around Georgia then, one term was probably all he was going to get). My point isn’t that he was a good president, it’s that he came pretty much out of nowhere to beat a lot of well-known Democrats in the primaries and a sitting president in the general election. You could make a similar argument for Bill Clinton or that fellow who’s in the job now as far as overcoming electoral anonymity.

I’m not pimping for Democrats here; they just illustrate my particular argument. It’s possible for a candidate to seemingly come out of nowhere to capture the attention of a majority of voters.

Nikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal

Nikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal

So, should the recent Commercial Appeal/WREG-TV poll showing AC Wharton with a huge lead mean the contest to complete Herenton’s term is over? A lot of people assume that so many people have a positive view of the county mayor that he’s pretty much in.

I watched Mr. Wharton be fairly dismissive of Charles Carpenter when Carpenter insisted (in front of a TV news camera) that the two of them meet in a one-on-one debate. I accept that. When you’re front-runner, you don’t look for more trouble, you look for less. One thing the county mayor is good at is looking cool, calm and collected.  After the sturm und drang of the previous city administration, Wharton’s three C’s may be just what the electorate ordered.

Standing Up for Memphis

Standing Up for Memphis

I’m not complete surprised that AC’s in front, although the amount of his lead did surprise me a bit. After all, Carol Chumney has pretty much been running since the last election. I’ve met her and think she’s very bright.

I just wonder whether contentious is the best way to approach the race, especially when it seems like the last full-time mayor had a patent on contentious. I talked to someone who went to White Station H.S. with Ms. Chumney, and they made the same point.

She’s got to be true to herself; if she believes that her approach is the right one for her, I completely understand. My only point is that she is very intelligent and as capable as anyone — so why not dazzle them with your brilliance instead of seeming to pick a fight wherever you go? Strength doesn’t necessary call for combativeness.

On the Job

On the Job

I would have thought that Myron Lowery would be in a better position. He’s been a city council person as long as Herenton was mayor. And goodness knows, he’s been working as hard as 10 men since becoming interim mayor. And I really can’t recall any official of a city this size making himself so accessible to people.

It’s probably like the TV discussion I was having with a friend earlier. They happened to have been a TV anchor here, and is regularly recognized as such, even though they’ve been off the air for more than a decade. Now, I was on TV for about 8 years here as a reporter, and was barely recognized then — almost never now — even after reminding people. That’s the thing, anchors are on all the time, so people remember them. Reporters only get limited face time; in a quick “stand up” in the middle of a story or in a live shot. Perhaps Myron’s being one of many council people made him less recognizable. And before you bring up the “but he was a TV anchor” argument and try to use my own analogy against me, remember, he was a weekend anchor.  They’re more like reporters than the Monday through Friday anchor people.

Anyway, early voting starts Friday, and there are tons of locations where you can go (they’re all listed in the Daily News article I linked to earlier in the blog). No excuses. With 25 people running, there’s got to be somebody you’re willing to vote for! If you swing by the Election Commission office downtown on Saturday around 11, be sure to say hi, ’cause that’s where I’ll be.

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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