Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Let's play the WHAT IF game, shall we?

As you are aware if you live within the Memphis media market, Thaddeus Matthews is spearheading an effort to get a Recall of Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton on the August 2006 ballot. His forces must obtain the signatures of between 65,000 and 70,000 valid registered votes of the City of Memphis in order to accomplish this feat.

The recall effort has three potential outcomes, each of which we shall attempt to analyze over the course of a few posts. Those are A) failure to obtain enough signatures, thus failure to recall, B) success in obtaining the necessary signatures and placement on the ballot, but defeat at the August polls, and C) complete success, with Mayor Herenton's removal from office immediately after the August results have been certified by the election commission.

First, let's deal with A. Thaddeus has had good crowds at meetings, and his blog posts indicate that they have a plan to achieve the first victory with a spot on the ballot. But what if they don't get the necessary signatures? How would this affect a 2007 mayoral re-election campaign?

While it's not difficult to envision the Mayor making bold pronouncements about God intervening on his behalf, I don't see it having that much effect, depending upon how close the recall effort gets to the total. The Mayor will still run as if he's invincible, which may not be a bad thing for those who wish to see him removed.

Next, let's talk about B. In the event that the recall troops succeed in getting the recall on the ballot, THEN they have to be able to campaign for it. Do they have the money to run endless spots on TV and radio, especially African-American-oriented radio? You know the Mayor will, and he will be ruthless. Every bit of Thaddeus' past, in particular, will be thrown in his face while another set of commercials will document downtown development and growth.

I am skeptical to think that the recall effort could survive a media onslaught, and it might give some pause to African-Americans who remember how long and how difficult the struggle to elect a mayor of color had been. This might lead them to the conclusion that while they might not be happy with him, they will stick with him. THIS TIME.

I have been hearing rumors from various and sundry sources for a couple of years now that the downtown business community had withdrawn their financial support. If the Mayor has to dip into his warchest for a 2006 recall defense, it might well hurt his abilty to run in 2007, and open the door to a real challenge.

Finally, let's say that, in spite of all the obstacles, the recall is completely successful and the Mayor is out on his tush. First, say hello to Interim Mayor (for 20 days) Tajuan Stout-Mitchell, current City Council Chair and a friendly vote for the Mayor more often than not. She will be in charge until the Council selects a Mayor to serve until the 2007 elections (Note: any current Councilman who wanted the appointment would have to resign their seat on the Council).

Maybe. Let's not forget the wrangling that took place in 1982, when Mayor Wyeth Chandler resigned to take a Circuit Court position. When the dust settled, local attorney Dan Norwood had succeeded in forcing a special election at the November general election. This had the unintended result in jacking up the East Memphis turnout. As most of East Memphis was then in the 7th Congressional District, this killed the chances of Norwood's candidate Bob Clement, and resulted in the surprise election of...........Don Sundquist.

How many members of the current Council would jump into a special election this November? No, not ALL of them, but maybe 6 or 7 out of 13, don't you think? With no runoffs, someone could get elected with barely 20% of the vote, and wouldn't THAT be fun? Not to mention the fallout that would occur with the losers still having to work 1) with the person to whom they had LOST, and 2) with EACH OTHER. Happy Happy Joy Joy, right?

Think also of the effect it might have on the US Senate race, especially if Harold Ford Junior is the Democratic nominee. Hell, the Goopers might file suit to STOP a special election.

OK, enough from me; what do YOU think?


soandsodem said...

Regardless of what many people may feel about the mayor: hate,love,or indifference, a move for a recall should focus on something that meets at least some minimum level for recall.
Malfeasance, Misfeasance, or Nonfeasance. I think there may be an argument for Nonfeasance (Everything's O.K.- no wait! We re-checked the books. Somehow, the city ended up a boat-load short of money. Who knew?)

Memphis voters get to speak every Election Day, and up to a dozen or so of our citizens pretend to care about the results.

I don't believe that a recall is the right way to go about removing an elected official based only that individual's poor performance.

That's the job of the people who actually did the hiring.

bishop said...

I must agree with the above statement. Even though I am a true supporter of Mayor herenton, I must agree that the recall is the wrong approach. This city is not that bad for a recall. Regardless of your personal feelings toward the mayor, he has done a great job. The issue of the recall boils down to race. The Mayor has done some good to this city. No he is not perfect but who is? If I had Thaddeus matthews spear heading anything, I wouldn't support it. Check his track record and his intentions!

LeftWingCracker said...

Already starting Plan B with the attack on Thaddeus, eh? :)

Seriously, though, you have to admit that, outside of the downtown area, the city is falling apart due to crime, problems with our educational system, etc.

As Branch Rickey used to say, the arrow is pointing DOWN. Even when the mayor has had good ideas, he has sabotaged them with his own arrogance to the point where it either took someone else to salvage it (Chumney with the Tiny Towns) or it couldn't be salvaged at all (consolidation).

To be perfectly honest, other than Gale Carson, who among his current division directors can you point to and say they have done well?

I believe that if he is not recalled this year, then there needs to be great care to find a single candidate around whom all of his opposition can rally. it's time for him to go.

LeftWingCracker said...

And, by the way, the last time I looked, Thaddeus Matthews is not white.

This is NOT about race, as we have one competent African-American mayor in AC Wharton, why can't we have two?

For the record, my votes for Mayor are as follows:
1983 - John Ford (A-A)
1987 - Minerva Johnican (A-A)
1991 - Mongo (Zambodian)
1995 - WWH (A-A)
1999 - Shep Wilbun - (A-A)
2003 - Richard M. Daley (white)

Only one white guy out of the bunch.....

LeftWingCracker said...

Yes, the last one was a write-in, why do you ask? :)

polar donkey said...

Hey Bishop, this what you wrote on your blog.

"Tuesday, March 07, 2006
WHy Should Mayor Herenton Not be recalled?
I feel this is the best mayor that this city has ever had. Is it because he's black? No! It's because of his accomplishments. The first and one of the major accomplishments is downtown. Yes I said it. Downtown is a major part of any city. Before herentown, downtown was a major dump. Another accomplishment has been the first time buyers program. The program gives people with little or bad credit a chance to buy homes. Mayor Herenton also gave youth to work at a corporate job during the summer. He brought a major NBA team to Memphis. There other accomplishments that he's done. The question should be, WHat has your city council person done?"

This is powerful argument for the mayor. The residents of Hickory Hill, Frayser, Raliegh, Midtown, and Whitehaven must not have seen the same things you have considering how much population decline has happened in these areas has happened over the past 15 years of Herenton's reign. If the city is doing so well, why are so many people leaving?

SgtLarry said...

Actually, back to A:

If the Recall fails to get enough signatures but comes very close that could encourage a viable opponent ... say Herman Morris ... to run against Willie in '07.

LeftWingCracker said...

Great call, Larry, he absoultely could win this, but only if it was a one-on-one situation...