Friday, August 02, 2002

Another Pundit Tells You What He Thinks

A strange day for Shelby County. We get our first ever black mayor, and the first Democratic mayor, AC Wharton. But every other office goes to the Republicans. The County Commission keeps its Republican majority, with the loss of Joe Cooper, who was willing to sell off Shelby Farms to repay the County's debt, to Chris Thompson.

Some random thoughts:

* Mayor Dr. Herenton was uncharacteristically reticent in this election. He seemed to deliberately stay out of the race, even to the post-election victory party at AC Wharton's headquarters, where he showed up late and avoided the limelight. The conspiracy thinking is that he didn't want his presence to raise questions about City-County consolidation--a political landmine still.

* Speaking of not raising questions, notice how Flinn was always referred to by the Commercial Appeal as a "local radiologist" or "broadcasting magnate?" And they never missed a chance to remind people of his wealth and self-financed campaign. But when it came to Wharton, he was always the "public defender." Little to no mention was made of his extensive history with the controversial Ford family, nor his long association with Democratic party activities, nor the fact that he was campaign manager for two of Herenton's campaigns! Nor did the paper ever detail his many controversial cases as public defender. The CA studiously avoided all this, whether to attempt to deflect questions of his "insider" status or to paint a false picture of the man is a question that will go unanswered.

* I think I may miss County Sheriff candidate Randy Wade. His comments after his concession to Luttrell, where he talked about going golfing, riding off into the sunset and having a boat waiting for him, as well as his style of speaking, were refreshingly direct and disarming. He seems like a pretty good guy, maybe even the "first African-American good ol' boy" as he demurred in the first debate.

* Speaking of the new Sheriff, why was the report on the deplorable conditions at the jail released only days before the election? The timing smacks of someone's effort to spur real reform, and to embarrass someone, but who? There was a story randomly and spottily reported on election night that the deputy jailers were threatening to walk out en masse if Luttrell was elected! Wade took a moment to elliptically address that after his loss, and he stressed unity and coming together. A class departure.

* Did you know there were some Democratic primaries on Thursday? Sure enough, although most weren't reported. Some were unquestioned walk-aways, as in Harold Ford , John Tanner, Carol Chumney, and the rest of the black Democratic delegation to the State Legislature. But there were some, like John Ford's run where he had opposition not unlike Hilleary had Henry, and they got almost no attention. Why were Democrats given such a remarkable lack of attention? The conspiracy theory is that the CA wanted to paint the Republicans as fractious, to gin up disagreements so as to force more campaign spending.

* The execrable Mike Fleming was again reporting about voting precincts where efforts were made to keep polls open past the 7PM limit. No details, of course; this is Fleming after all. He also reported that, according to his reliable sources, the day after Wharton's inauguration there would be an announcement about consolidation, and a commission to move forward on it, headed by former mayor Jim Rout.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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