Thursday, August 01, 2002

Flinn Concedes

At shortly before 9PM, George Flinn called AC Wharton and conceded the campaign for Shelby County Mayor. The count at this hour is running 65% to 35%.

It has always been Wharton's campaign to lose and he played it well, with strategic support from the Commercial Appeal and the television stations. He played calm and friendly, and mostly stayed quiet. His sole wrong move was losing his temper on the Fox13 debate.

Flinn just played it wrong. The demographics of Shelby County played against him. Blacks are simply unlikely to support a white at that level when there is a credible black candidate, especially an insider like Wharton. So that's fifty percent of the vote gone right there. Then there are the white Democrats, which is another 10-15% of the vote.

Flinn's other problem was tipping the Republicans' applecart with his primary win. I believe that Larry Scroggs was never intended to be more than token opposition. Most of Mayor Rout's administrative staff had already gone to the Wharton campaign. Many other prominent Republicans, either publicly or privately, refused to support Flinn; some, including the president of the Young Republicans, actually supported Wharton! I believe that a lot of wealthy Shelby Countians simply see the writing on the demographic wall in the County and hoped for a smooth transition, one that left them with good relations all around. Flinn wrecked that; Susan Adler Thorp claims he's wrecked the Republican Party for some time to come.

Flinn seriously miscalculated with his appoach in the past month. He apparently tried--or more appropriately, his managers and handlers tried--to set up, without looking guilty, a situation requiring a response from Wharton, at which time Flinn could play aggrieved and smeared. But Flinn failed to carry it off, mostly because it doesn't seem to be in Flinn's character to act that way. He looked like a bad amateur actor. And the CA actively worked to turn it against him. It all failed and cost him dearly.

I think it's accurate to say that AC Wharton may be the last Shelby County Mayor. Expect to see Memphis Mayor Dr. Herenton's plan for consolidation to go forward, with AC's support and help. Also expect to see unusually close collaboration between the two governments--more so than you'd expect from two Democrats. It's more like puppet-master and puppet. AC has no constituency to hold together and appease. His constituency is Herenton's. Herenton you can expect to act even more imperial.

And watch white flight into Mississippi, Tipton and Fayette Counties, even Hardeman County and beyond, to go into overdrive. Jobs which require the successfully educated will begin to follow. Accuse me of racism, but a lot of jobs held by whites cannot be picked up by many Memphis blacks. The educational gap is too large and well-settled. The cultural gap between black Memphians/Countians and corporate America will also continue to be a problem. Memphis/Shelby County will continue to be mired in problems for many years to come.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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