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VOL. 124 | NO. 169 | Friday, August 28, 2009

Chumney Readies ‘Grassroots’ Campaign for Mayor

By Andy Meek

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Carol Chumney

While her fellow mayoral contenders have spent the past week or so shaking hands, giving interviews, knocking on doors and making calls, Carol Chumney has not been as visible on the campaign trail.

Her low profile left some mayoral competitors wondering what was going on with the former state legislator and Memphis City Council member who came nearest to defeating former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton in 2007.

Herenton, who retired at the end of July, told radio talk show host Thaddeus Matthews earlier this week had he not run in 2007, “Carol Chumney … would have been your mayor, and I felt that would have been disastrous for Memphis.”

Chumney laughed when reminded of the former mayor’s recent broadside. She also laughed when told some people had begun to wonder if she is committed to the Oct. 15 special mayoral election, which she filed her paperwork for Thursday.

Taking care of business

The explanation for why she has not hit the stump over the past several days involves her law practice. Chumney, an attorney with an office in White Station Tower, was nearing the end of a jury trial in federal court last week.

Position: Solo attorney, Memphis mayoral candidate
Basics: Chumney signed a lease for a headquarters for her mayoral campaign this week, in addition to filing her mayoral petition and participating in the campaign’s first televised debate.

Representing someone in a wrongful job termination case, she was in court Friday waiting until the early evening when the jury returned a half million-dollar verdict. The court still has to rule before a final judgment is issued in that case, but Chumney said she and her client were pleased with the result.

Now she’s ready to turn her attention back to politics. It’s been almost two years since she addressed a crowd of supporters at The Peabody hotel following her 2007 mayoral loss to Herenton. Unapologetic about the outcome, she declared then, “Memphis deserves better.”

Time has not dampened her motivation or her attitude. As an example, Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr., touted in many circles as the frontrunner in the October election, was the subject of a $500-per-plate fundraiser at The Racquet Club of Memphis in November in support of his mayoral bid.

“ … It’s time for us to go and conquer those giants. And Memphis can do it.”
– Carol Chumney

Chumney told The Daily News at the time the event suggested Wharton may be getting an early start on what was to have been the next mayor’s race in 2011 – when Herenton’s term was due to expire – based on inside information.

“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,” Chumney said.

Conquering the giants

In Herenton’s recent radio interview, the former mayor said Wharton would be the likely winner in the October election, but he said that was more an assessment of the overall field rather than Wharton’s individual strength.

Chumney continues to embrace the outside, populist stance she’s long held.

“Some people may say Carol’s not running a conventional, traditional campaign,” she said. “I’m certainly not. I’m running a grassroots, people-oriented campaign.”

Chumney this week signed a lease on a headquarters for her campaign, which will be at 3179 Poplar Ave. across from East High School. Her campaign Web site is www.carolchumneyonline.com, and she’ll be the subject of a fundraiser Sept. 15 at the Hunt-Phelan Home Downtown.

She’s participating in a fashion show Saturday at Eureka True Vine Baptist Church in South Memphis at the invitation of a women’s group there.

“My key message is it’s been 40 years since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., and it’s time for us to come together and heal,” Chumney said.

She noted a Bible story in the Old Testament in which the Israelites were scared to enter the Promised Land because of the giant people they saw living there.

“We have a lot of giants now,” she said. “The giants of crime, young people needing hope and a future, and how we’ve got to get more good-paying jobs in this community. Just like the Israelites looked over there and they saw those giants and they got scared and didn’t want to go (into it) after 40 years of wandering, it’s time for us to go and conquer those giants. And Memphis can do it.”

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