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VOL. 123 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chumney Chimes in on Mayor’s Race

By Andy Meek

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The next Memphis mayor’s race is still three years away, but the electoral battle lines are already being drawn.

Former Memphis City Council member Carol Chumney, who lost her own race for city mayor last year to incumbent Willie Herenton, told The Daily News she is running again in 2011 and has begun making campaign preparations. That makes her the second prominent contender for the mayor’s seat this far out, with Shelby County mayor A C Wharton Jr. already having signaled his intentions this month and established himself as an early favorite in the race.

As early as it might seem, campaign plans aren’t the only thing coming a few years in advance for the mayor’s race. Chumney, a former state legislator, already is prepared and willing to throw down the gauntlet against the man who rebuffed the invitation of a “Draft A C” movement to enter the mayor’s race last year.

Talking points

Carol Chumney

Chumney said Wharton is out of touch for allowing himself to be the subject of a $500-per-person fundraiser to be held today at The Racquet Club of Memphis in support of his mayoral bid.

“It’s inconsiderate to be having a fundraiser when this economy is so bad,” Chumney told The Daily News. “People are losing their jobs, companies are going bankrupt, banks are going out of business, and here you’ve got a guy who’s having a $500-per-plate fundraiser for an election that’s three years away.

“Now, if he knows something the general public does not know, then I think he should come clean and tell the public what it is that he knows so we’ll all be enlightened in terms of what’s going on. If this is some scheme cooked up (for Herenton) to transfer power to an anointed successor and have his handpicked successor get a head start on a special election because of inside information, I think that’s very disrespectful to the voters.”

Wharton last week acknowledged to The Daily News that someone might jump to the conclusion that he’s operating on the basis of still-secret information since he’s thinking and talking about the city mayor’s race so far in advance. His second term as county mayor does not end until September 2010.

But Wharton said there’s no ulterior motive for his early moves.

“People are always going to suspect things like that,” Wharton said. “There is absolutely no plan or scheme whatsoever.”

Keep on keeping on

Nevertheless, Chumney has decided to go ahead and make her move as well. She said she’ll be filing the necessary campaign forms soon, organizing a political team and unveiling details of campaign events that she’s not yet ready to share.

It’s been a little more than 12 months since she stood behind a podium at The Peabody hotel in front of a crowd of supporters on Election Night following her loss to Herenton. Unapologetic and unshaken by the outcome, she declared, “Memphis deserves better.”

“I’ll be contacting all the (City) Council members, all elected officials, and asking them to help me,” she said. “I’ll be leaving no stone unturned. I’ll be working hard on this right away.

“We made such a strong showing last time. We almost won. I know we have a great chance to win, and I’m going to move forward on that basis.”

The fact that she intends to try again in the next Memphis mayoral race has been no secret, since Chumney has said as much on more than one occasion over the past year. One of those instances came in the wake of Herenton’s aborted resignation attempt earlier this year.

While the possibility of his resignation was still up in the air, Chumney was already floating herself as a contender if a special election had to be called to fill the seat.

“There’s so much I want to focus on (this time),” she said. “The people, making this a world-class city, putting corruption behind us, making sure our young people have a future – those are the issues everybody cares about. The people of Memphis have to decide if they’re interested in someone who will get the job done or if we’re just going to stay the same.”

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