VOL. 125 | NO. 152 | Friday, August 6, 2010
GOP Carries Countywide Offices
By Bill Dries
The only thing Republican candidates in Shelby County were denied in the Aug. 5 elections was a majority on the Shelby County Commission. The local GOP slate swept every countywide partisan race on the ballot with Thursday’s election results.
Voter turnout – early and Election Day – was almost 30 percent of Shelby County’s 600,000 voters. All election returns will be audited and must be certified by the Shelby County Election Commission.
Republican Bill Oldham, the former chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Department under outgoing Sheriff Mark Luttrell, beat Democrat Randy Wade in the race for sheriff.
The unofficial returns with all precincts reporting were:
Oldham: 89,613 (52%)
Wade: 82,981 (48%)
Wade, who was the Democratic nominee for sheriff in 2002, linked his 2010 campaign to the re-election bid of Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. Wade, a former sheriff’s deputy, is Cohen’s district director.
Oldham campaigned on continuing the policies of Luttrell. But his campaign faltered when Oldham was forced to resign his job as chief deputy – the No. 2 position in the department – following a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department that his candidacy violated the Federal Hatch Act.
The civil complaint investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel left Oldham with the choice of either quitting the job or quitting the race. To keep both could have jeopardized federal funding the department receives.
The complaint was unique because deputies and high-ranking officers running for sheriff has been a regular feature of the sheriff’s race for decades. It wasn’t until 2002 that those in the department were required to take a leave of absence if they ran.
In other general election races, challenger Ken Hoover lost to Shelby County School Board Chairman David Pickler in the race for the District 5 seat on the seven-member board.
Pickler has been chairman for 11 of the 12 years the school board has been an elected body. Pickler ran on his record as chairman. Hoover also ran on Pickler’s record, saying his leadership style was too autocratic and not transparent enough.
The unofficial results were:
Pickler: 5,123 (51%)
Hoover: 4,956 (49%)
In the two other contested school board races, former Bolton High School principal Snowden “Butch” Carruthers beat Millington parent Charlene White in District 1. And political newcomer David Reaves beat fellow newcomer Lara A. McIntyre, both of Bartlett, for the District 3 seat.
White and McIntyre both called for change in school board methods during their campaigns.
District 7 school board member Ernest Chism ran unopposed.
The even-numbered district school board seats are on the 2012 county ballot.
After running for Probate Court clerk three other times, Democratic nominee Sondra Becton could not claim the office on her fourth try – even with the incumbent she campaigned against the three other times out of the race. Republican contender Paul Boyd easily beat Becton in the race for the office Chris Thomas gave up to run for and win a seat on the Shelby County Commission.
Becton lost to Thomas by 604 votes four years ago and was among the four Democratic challengers who unsuccessfully challenged the results in Chancery Court. This time she lost by more than 6,500 votes.
The vote totals were:
Boyd: 82,259 (52%)
Becton: 75,702 (48%)
Republican Tom Leatherwood easily defeated Democratic challenger Coleman Thompson to remain Shelby County register. The two faced each other in 2006, with Leatherwood winning.
The results Thursday were:
Leatherwood: 96,531 (58%)
Thompson: 68,784 (42%)
As early voting began, Thompson’s Pyramid Recovery Center was evicted from its longtime South Memphis space that was also an early voting site and an election day polling place. The landlord agreed to leave the voting sites up and running. But the possibility of a change in polling places served to highlight Thompson’s financial problems.
Late publicity about financial problems took a toll on another Democratic contender.
Newcomer Corey Maclin began campaigning early for Shelby County clerk, with incumbent Republican Debbie Stamson not seeking re-election. Maclin lost to Republican nominee Wayne Mashburn, the son of late county clerk Sonny Mashburn.
The unofficial returns were:
Mashburn: 88,619 (55%)
Maclin: 72,651 (45%)
Stamson’s husband, Steve Stamson, retired as Juvenile Court clerk, setting up the race that was won by Republican nominee Joy Touliatos, the chief administrative officer of the clerk’s office. She beat Democratic nominee Shep Wilbun, who won appointment to the clerk’s office in 2000 but lost to Stamson in the 2002 election and was beaten by Stamson again in 2006.
With all precincts reporting, the numbers were:
Touliatos: 85,849 (51%)
Wilbun: 73,345 (44%)
The remaining votes went to independent candidate Julia R. Wiseman.
Also seeking a return to countywide office was Minerva Johnican. Johnican, the Democratic nominee for Criminal Court clerk, lost to Republican nominee Kevin Key, the son of outgoing Criminal Court Clerk Bill Key and an administrator with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office.
The results were:
Key: 79,755 (49%)
Johnican: 74,831 (46%)
Independent candidate Jerry Stamson: 8,581 (5%)
Johnican, also a former Memphis City Council member and Shelby County Commissioner lost the clerk’s job in 1994 when she was upset by the elder Key.
Incumbent Republican Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore easily defeated Democratic challenger Ricky Dixon. Although Dixon was part of the effort by Democratic party leaders to get voters to vote the entire party slate, Moore continued to show up at Democratic functions and make his case for crossover votes.
Regina Morrison Newman, the third Shelby County tustee in four years, lost her bid for a full term in the office to Republican challenger David Lenoir. It was an impressive political debut for Lenoir, who had heavy backing from the local GOP.
The results were:
Lenoir: 77,166 (49%)
Newman: 72,618 (46%)
Independent candidate Derrick Bennett: 6,353 (4%)
Newman was appointed to the office by the Shelby County Commission following the 2009 death of Trustee Paul Mattila. Mattila was appointed to the office and won a special election for the position following the 2008 death of Bob Patterson. Patterson was re-elected to a four-year term in 2006.
In the judicial races:
Attorney Bill Anderson Jr. emerged atop a field of 20 candidates for General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Div. 7 with 15 percent of the vote. Assistant County Attorney Janet Lansky Shipman was second and the only other contender to go into double digit percentages. The 20 candidates were the largest field in any race – primary or general – on the Shelby County ballot.
Prosecutor Bobby Carter, who had the backing of District Attorney General Bill Gibbons and former District Attorney General John Pierotti, was elected judge of Criminal Court Div. 3 in a close race with attorneys Glenn Wright and Latonya Sue Burrow.
Carter got 26 percent of the vote to Wright’s 25 percent and Burrow’s 24.7 percent.
The results in the three other special judicial races saw the three appointed judges rejected by voters.
- Lee Wilson, the appointee to General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Div. 10, lost to former General Sessions Court Clerk Chris Turner by more than 64,000 votes. Turner’s victory was the strongest proof of the strong Republican turnout for races across the general election ballot. Turner had been the General Sessions Court clerk until 2006, when he was upset by Democratic challenger Otis Jackson. He is also a former Republican state legislator.
- Lorrie Ridder, the appointee to Circuit Court Judge Div. 4, lost to attorney Gina Higgins by about 5,000 votes.
- Rhynette Northcross Hurd, the appointee to Circuit Court Judge Div. 8, lost to attorney Bob Weiss by more than 12,000 votes.
Ridder and Hurd had been appointed to the Circuit Court vacancies by Gov. Phil Bredesen, who picked them each from a list of three finalists from the Judicial Nominating Commission. Bredesen even taped a robo-call on behalf of Hurd, his first robo-call for any candidate in the state.
Wilson was appointed to the General Sessions vacancy by the Shelby County Commission and adopted a domestic violence case docket for the court.