VOL. 123 | NO. 25 | Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Obama, Huckabee Carry Shelby In Tn Primary
By Bill Dries
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee carried Shelby County in Tuesday’s Tennessee presidential primaries.
Huckabee went on to win statewide in the GOP contest while New York Sen. Hillary Clinton took the statewide Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, Bill Giannini claimed the GOP nomination for property assessor, in which he advances to the August county general election. Otis Jackson claimed the Democratic nomination for General Sessions court clerk.
Twenty-four percent, or 148,000 of Shelby County’s 611,000 registered voters, cast ballots in Tuesday’s primaries. The relatively healthy turnout came despite severe weather that began pounding the Memphis area at around 5 p.m. with two hours left to vote.
Shelby County election commissioners decided to keep the county’s 274 precincts open until 7 p.m. But election officials in four nearby Tennessee counties closed some precincts early because of the weather.
Shelby County results show Obama thumped Clinton among the crucial Democratic base in Memphis.
With all 274 precincts reporting, the unofficial Shelby County results are:
Obama 68,516 or 70%
Clinton 27,914 or 28%
All of Tuesday’s results become official after an audit and certification by the local Election Commission.
Clinton as well as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been enormously popular with Memphis Democrats. But Obama’s Memphis campaign refused to cede the city’s predominantly black Democratic base to Hillary Clinton in a county carried by the last black presidential candidate, Jesse Jackson, both times he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1984 and 1988.
Clinton put in a Jan. 28 appearance at Monumental Baptist Church that drew a modest-sized crowd of about 300. Obama didn’t make it to Memphis, but his campaign rolled out a series of local endorsements in the closing days of the campaign that included U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, state House Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry, 2007 mayoral challenger Herman Morris and Memphis City Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr. Clinton countered with endorsements by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Herenton’s rival in the 2007 mayor’s race – former City Council member Carol Chumney.
Much closer was the three-way Republican contest among Huckabee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
With all precincts reporting the unofficial Shelby County results were:
Huckabee 18,930 or 38%
McCain 14,842 or 30%
Romney 13,735 or 27%
Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, preached at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova Sunday as part of a statewide blitz. The Republican base in the county outside Memphis is regarded by party leaders as the most significant outside of GOP-dominated East Tennessee.
The Shelby County primary ballot featured two local contested primaries for property assessor and General Sessions court clerk.
In the four-way GOP contest for assessor, Giannini, the local Republican party chairman, won the right to advance to the August county general election. He beat rivals Randy Lawson, John Bogan and Betty Boyette. Giannini will meet Democratic nominee Cheyenne Johnson in August. She ran unopposed in the Democratic contest. The winner will replace outgoing assessor Rita Clark, who is backing Johnson, her chief administrative officer.
Giannini 23,096 or 62%
Boyette 6,237 or 17%
Lawson 4,705 or 13%
Bogan 3,207 or 8%
The Democratic primary duel for General Sessions court clerk was won by Jackson, a FedEx employee and former University of Memphis basketball star. Jackson bested attorney Jerome Payne.
Jackson 41,915 or 58%
Payne 30,669 or 42%
Jackson will meet Republican incumbent clerk Chris Turner on the August ballot. Turner ran unopposed on Tuesday’s GOP primary – a first in his long political career as a state representative and as General Sessions court clerk.