Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eleven months to ANOTHER election!

As Jackson Baker and Kyle Veazey have noted,  The 2014 state & Federal elections had not finished, yet the 2015 city elections appeared to be starting, even though the filing deadline is not until next July.

Mayor Wharton sent out an email earlier this week to his supporters that he was in it to win it, but Veazey noted he only had about 115K in his campaign account.  One would think he could raise more quickly, since that would indicate the business community is behind him.  Jim Strickland has been telling anyone who will listen that he is running for re-election to his Council District 5 seat, to which I expect he would have only token opposition.

Funny thing though.  Veazey tweeted a response from Strickland to Wharton's letter, which can be seen here.   Considering that most of the MPD rank and file is furious with him for Strickland's involvement in the reduction of benefits to retirees, this is really interesting.  I have to believe that even if the municipal unions put up a challenger to Jim, he would be VERY difficult to beat in that district.  I also see no reason to disbelieve him when he says he is not challenging Wharton.

About challenging Wharton.....

So far, the names mentioned have included City Councilor Harold Collins (Whitehaven), former County Commissioner James Harvey, former state representative and City Councilor Carol Chumney, and Memphis Police Association head Mike Williams.  I have also heard, just not as often, that Reverend Kenneth Whalum might also get in the race.

If all of them get in, Mayor Wharton will walk away with it.  Remember 1999, 2007, and even 2011, when all of the anti-Administration votes were split among several candidates?  That will happen yet again if all, or as few as TWO others run against the mayor.

If Wharton is in and Strickland is not, the Mayor will have all the money he needs from the business community.  He also has one of the two Democratic (yeah, I know, it's non-partisan, Meh.)  organizations in this town that can produce victories, the other being that of Congressman Steve Cohen.

This is not to say Wharton doesn't have problems of his own.  The working class members of the community (of ALL colors) are not thrilled with his stands against the municipal unions.  To be truthful, in my opinion, if the business community DID bail on the Mayor, his base would suddenly shrink to his Heiskell Farms neighborhood and a few houses in Stonewall.

However, in order to beat him as it stands right now, you need a unified, organized campaign to defeat him behind ONE candidate and one candidate alone.  Who is that candidate?  Right now, we really don't know.

My suggestions is this: a backroom meeting among all of the candidates interested in becoming Mayor.  The question to each of these candidates is this:  Are you committed to running because you want to be Mayor or because you want to beat AC Wharton?  If it's the former,and not the latter, then that is a problem.  If every candidate looked at the others and said you need to get behind me, and they all ran, then Wharton cruises.  If, however, you are all serious about changing the direction at City Hall, who could you support instead of yourself?

Only time will tell about this; like I said, it's a long time to July, but I would hope that this is sorted out before then.  If it's not, then the Mayor CAN relax, not that he will.

In other news, as newly elected State Senator Lee Harris considers vacating his City Council seat, names are popping up to replace him in District 7.  Former interim Councilor Berlin Boyd is out there, Eric Dunn has indicated interest in the seat, and SCDP Parliamentarian Thurston Smith is exploring a candidacy and meeting with potential supporters next week.  That will be a very interesting race, to be sure.

So, I would like to hear your thoughts in the comments. Is Wharton a lock or a goner?  What about the rest of the Council?  Let me know!

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