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VOL. 124 | NO. 148 | Thursday, July 30, 2009

Uncertainty Follows Stanley’s Political Demise

By Andy Meek

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Paul Stanley

On his way to the electric chair in the 1934 gangster movie “Manhattan Melodrama,” Clark Gable’s doomed character encourages a fellow prison inmate to “die like you live – all of a sudden.”

All of a sudden is the way state Sen. Paul Stanley’s political career died Tuesday, with the Germantown Republican’s decision late in the afternoon to step down after a nine-year career in the state Legislature. Stanley is resigning effective Aug. 10.

When news broke last week of a brief sexual relationship Stanley developed earlier this year with a 22-year-old legislative intern, the lawmaker privately talked about riding out the storm. He’s said sometime around Easter he confessed everything to his wife, Kristi, director of government affairs for the Memphis Area Home Builders Association, and that he’d already begun trying to patch things up with her.

‘A low point’

From the moment a Nashville TV station picked up the story last week and it careened across the state, Stanley declined to go public. He rebuffed daily calls, e-mails and text messages from reporters pressing him to address his affair with McKensie Morrison, a student at Austin Peay State University.

But after talking things over with his wife Tuesday, Stanley changed his mind and decided to call it quits.

“I hate to leave the Senate like this,” Stanley told The Daily News. “I’ve always told my kids, ‘We can talk about next year later, but you finish what you sign up for.’ This was just getting ridiculous. It was getting out of control.”

Moments after dashing off a resignation letter that afternoon to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and then breaking his weeklong silence in a radio interview, Stanley told The Daily News he felt “a huge sense of relief and sadness.” He also seemed unsure whether his 11-year marriage would survive.

“The only person who can answer that question is God,” Stanley said when asked what would become of his marriage. “I’m going to ask God to use our marriage as he sees fit right now.

“You know, my situation is kind of like the housing market. I’ve hit a low point, and I may stay here for a while.”

Stanley may remain in limbo indefinitely, but as with nature, vacuums don’t last long in politics, either.

Uncertain times

While Stanley wrapped up the radio interview in which he said his wife has forgiven him but their marriage could still be a casualty of the affair, State Rep. Brian Kelsey was declaring himself a candidate for Stanley’s seat.

Local blogger Tom Guleff, who started a “Draft Jim Strickland” movement on Facebook encouraging Memphis City Council member Jim Strickland to run in the city’s special mayoral election, has started a similar movement for Stanley’s seat.

Guleff’s new Facebook group is “Push Steve McManus for Senate District 31.” McManus is the Republican member of the state House representing Cordova. A few hours after the group was put together Tuesday, it already had picked up about 80 members.

Presumably, the Shelby County Commission will name an interim senator for Stanley’s seat until a special election can be held, although more than one county commissioner contacted by The Daily News this week questioned whether that would happen.

Shelby County Commission Chair Deidre Malone suggested it might not make sense for the commission to name an interim senator to fill Stanley’s seat since the Legislature doesn’t convene again until January and a special election will be held before then.

Even so, she said the commission, which is split eight Democrats to five Republicans, should choose someone from Stanley’s political party to replace him.

“I think we should appoint a Republican if we have to do it, but I’m not sure we have to do it,” Malone said.

What’s not yet clear is what the County Commission would do if a current House member ends up winning Stanley’s Senate seat. If that happened, the current 49-49-1 split in the House would be threatened by the commission’s ability to name a Democrat to the departing House member’s seat.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396