Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Willie Herenton must be smiling..

As he looks out at the political landscape and sees a veritable plethora of candidates lined up to beat him in the 2007 Mayoral Election. The Mayor sees everyone from Councilor Carol Chumney to John Willingham to a local dentist named Mark Roudebush gearing up, and that's just the white candidates.

Herenton could possibly face former MLGW president Herman Morris and Councilor Myron Lowery; had Rickey Peete not experienced his recent unpleasantness, he might have jumped in as well.

While Bob over at 55-40 is convinced that the Mayor will NOT seek an unprecedented fifth term, I look at the field and wonder why, as only an indictment could beat him if the field is this split.

Remember 1999? John Bakke, who was polling and counseling candidate Joe Ford at the time, announced a poll prior to the beginning of the race that showed that 55% of the City of Memphis electorate wanted a new mayor.

By Heavens, he was almost dead-on; when the votes were counted, Herenton had 46%, a minority, but also a PLURALITY. There was NO single candidate that could consolidate the Anti-Herenton vote, and he was back.

This is the problem that a heavily-populated field could bring. While a year ago, Herenton looked like a goner, even among African-Americans, things have changed.

I am saying, as Polar Donkey has, that the election of Steve Cohen to the 9th Congressional District seat has made it impossible for a white candidate to be elected Mayor of Memphis. I could be wrong (I prefer my crow grilled, please) but I don't think so.

If Bob is right and Herenton gets out, he has to have thought about a successor, and I'm betting it's NOT one of the candidates above.

However, unless the Mayor knows something about his future that I don't, I can't see him passing up what appears to be an easy re-election bid.

As a Memphian, I'm not thrilled, and I will support the candidate of my choice (which WON'T be him), but that doesn't mean I can't read the numbers.


polar donkey said...

Thanks for the shout out LWC. No white candidate can win and to be honest nor should they. I wish all the candidates would get out of the race and then we all have another "people's convention" to select a consensus candidate. (Maybe Chumney has enough stature to organize a convention by using the political capital she's stockpiled by opposing Herenton. That will give her more of a legacy than just being one of many candidates that split the vote. Plus, it may help take the edge off her very visible political ambition.) Some may think this is undemocratic but there is no primary. You rightly point out that with so many folks entering the race Herenton walks to victory. Is 60% of voters opposing Herenton yet he is still re-elected any more democratic?

Everyone talks about the lack of "leadership" in Memphis. But leadership also means setting ego aside, establish a framework to select a consensus candidate, and try to turn this city around. I know the poplar corridor and downtown are nice but the rest of city is going to hell in a hand basket. The mayor has been in office for 16 years and the average tenure for a city councilman is over 9 years. I think we've had enough of their "leadership."

Sharon Cobb said...

Don't y'all have a Ford who can run for Mayor?

autoegocrat said...

I hope you were joking, Sharon. Otherwise that stings a little.

Folks, this is why we need to pay more attention to tiddlywink local races like School Board. We need to establish a bullpen of strong candidates we can all trust, or else we'll be having this same conversation every time there's the potential for a power vacuum.

We ought to be pushing the Charter Commission to institute either a primary or a runoff for the mayor's race.

SgtLarry said...


Memphis is barred by a federal court order from having runoff races for citywide position such as the mayor and the city council super positions.

Why? Because in the past it was viewed as a racist way to allow whites to retain control. Now the shoe is on the other foot. If Herenton and Morris run and only one white runs, a white person could become mayor. (The Cohen effect.)

And Polar Donkey ... Why shouldn't a white person be mayor? To say that white shouldn't be mayor is like those who say Cohen shouldn't be the congressman.

Sigh, maybe I'll live to the see the day when race is not such an issue in a race but rather the character and vision of the candidate.

Sharon Cobb said...

I was being sarcastic. Of course I wasn't serious.
Sorry that wasn't clear!!!

polar donkey said...

It is unfair to ask the black community to set aside parochial interests to a much greater degree than is being asking white folks to do. When is Bartlett going to embrace diversity and replace the mayor and Blackburn with black officials? For the 9th Congressional district and city of Memphis to elect both white candidates would only raise racial tension, because it would necessitate, as you mentioned Sgt Larry, a "Cohen Effect."

It worked for Cohen because he had a proven tack record and he was running against a nut and a republican. He also won the Democratic Primary. For a white candidate to win mayor, there would have to 2 or 3 black candidates and no other white candidates. The majority of the people in the city will be pissed because they didn't vote for the winning candidate. What legitimacy would that white mayor have?

To discount the issue of race is not wise or realistic. With the electoral history of this city, it would simply be unacceptable to the majority of this city to elect a white congressman and mayor in the same year. By white candidates staying in the campaign, voters will be pushed into parochial corners. Polarization is what Herenton would want. Do you seriously think in a one on one race with Chumney and Herenton, Chumney wins? That's just not going to happen. Even in a 3 way race (Herenton and another black candidate vs Chumney) Chumney will lose because there will be so much pressure exerted to vote for Herenton in order to prevent a white person from taking the mayorship. A white candidate in the race will force black voters into the Herenton camp and secure his re-election.

This is why a consensus black candidate is so important to the future of the city. A truely diverse coalition can be formed and a clear majority, election victory gives the new mayor legitimacy to enact the changes necessary to improve the city.

So Jack Sammons, Carol Chumney, and the rest of white candidates should stay out of the race. If you really want to help the city, go talk to the black community and set up a framework to find and select a qualified, consensus candidate.

kiljoyhardluck said...

I'm glad your around so people don't have to waste there time doing there duty and voting for the candidate of there choice. I see you like Communism, I think we should have a choice however . Just like in a city election in Oakland, Ca a few years ago a white guy was elected to be mayor as he ran in a 4 way race against 2 other reasonably strong black candidates who eventually split the vote so the white won In an overwhelmingly black city nearly 70% and he went on to be reelected and do a lot of good For the city. His name is Edmund(Jerry )Brown and he is now A.G. for Cal. So Frank let people
vote for whom ever they choose There won't be any convention either, it's all just speculation now anyway, but out of all the candidates I see Carol Chumney having the best shot. The power brokers won't be with Herenton this time round........

Steve Steffens said...

Who WILL the downtown crowd be with? Not Herenton and not Chumney, so who?

A large field guarantees a Herenton re-electon unless he doesn't run.

Modern Voice! said...

I don't agree with most of what I have been reading, I would be for Carol. I would like a woman for Mayor, and why so much attention to what the race of the candidate in. Let them all throw in and let the people vote, enough of the back door picking and choosing the candidate by a few prior to any primary. Had enough of that. At least Chumney doesn't mind speaking out on somethings that should have been put forward years ago.

Carol will get my $$, and my time, and my vote.

polar donkey said...

"I see you like communism." What is this statement? Really, you're going to play the communist boogeyman card? This isn't 1982.

Go ahead and support Chumney and help pave the way for Herenton's re-election.

The other problem with Chumney entering the mayor's race is that it will cause other white candidates to jump in the race as well. Nobody's scared of running against her. So the white vote gets split anyway.

Plus, you're comparing Oakland, California and an excellent campaigner like Jerry Brown with Memphis, just after Cohen took the 9th congressional seat, and Carol Chumney. It's unfair but people are going to be harsher on her just because she is a woman. Plus, is she going to run a very good campaign? She has a reputation for micromanaging, poor delegation skills, and thin skin. (Remember the articles in the Flyer a couple years ago.Hell, how long will it take in the campaign for her to say crazy stuff like she did at one of the Living Wage Townhalls. That performance almost sank her with a lot of community activists already.)Finally, who is going to endorse Chumney? Not Cohen. He'll have to remain silent or even endorse Herenton. That's just returning a favor Herenton did for him in that congressional race. Chumney can't win.

Steve Steffens said...

I'm NOT telling Carol not to run; hell, rabid badgers couldn't keep her out.

I will probably vote for her, all things considered, because I don't see a MAGIC candidate emerging from the mist to save us from ourselves.

However, I am not optimistic.

What if Bob's right? who runs then who's not in now?

dwayneearl said...

Calvin Anderson could lead this city light years into the future.

polar donkey said...

I'd vote for Chumney before Mr Anderson.

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