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VOL. 129 | NO. 64 | Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Candidates Commit as Deadline Nears

By Bill Dries

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The first day of spring was March 20, but, after months of fundraisers and petition filings, the last day of the month served as the start of this year’s political season.

With the filing deadline for the August state and federal primaries, as well as nonpartisan Shelby County Schools board and judicial positions, Thursday at noon, candidates began Monday, March 31, making the set-in-stone decisions that will point election efforts toward voters and away from the groundwork.

Businessman Taylor Berger dropped out of the race for Shelby County Commission District 5 in which he had already won the May Democratic primary simply by being the only candidate in the race.

Berger dropped out after the Shelby County Election Commission certified the ballot for the May elections, and with early voting opening April 16, it appeared his name would remain on the ballot.

Berger’s decision to withdraw means Republican incumbent Heidi Shafer, who had been prepping for a viable August challenge in the new commission District 5, is now the second incumbent on the commission who has been effectively re-elected without opposition.

The other is Republican Terry Roland, in new commission District 1, who had no opposition at the February filing deadline.


As Berger was getting out Monday, Memphis City Council member Lee Harris moved a step closer to an August Democratic primary challenge of state Sen. Ophelia Ford by pulling a qualifying petition.

Harris has insisted he hasn’t made up his mind on a challenge of Ford and probably won’t until Thursday’s deadline.

In the seven Shelby County Schools board races on the August ballot, there was still no candidate late Monday in District 7 of the newly configured school board. The board goes from its current seven members covering the entire county to nine members with districts covering Memphis and the unincorporated county. The winners from those new district lines take office Sept. 1. Races for the new Districts 2 and 4 are not on the ballot for another two years.


U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher formally kicked off his re-election campaign Monday in Jackson at an event featuring conservative talk show host Michael Reagan.

Earlier in the day, Fincher and Reagan, the adopted son of the late President Ronald Reagan, spoke in Collierville Town Square.

Fincher told the group in Jackson he was elected “to fight Washington bureaucrats and the status quo.”

“I was sent to protect our second amendment rights and the Constitution, and I have,” he said.

Fincher filed his petition for re-election March 11.

He faces opposition in the August Republican primary from Dana Matheny of Collierville and a Democratic primary field of Rickey R. Hobson of Fayette County, Lawrence Pivnick of Memphis and Tom Reasons of Dyersburg.

Each had filed their qualifying petitions with the state by late Monday.

In the statewide race for governor, incumbent Republican Bill Haslam still doesn’t have a mainstream name Democratic challenger in the field for the Democratic primary.

John Jay Hooker, the 1970 Democratic nominee for governor who, since then, has run several times for various offices, pulled petitions in the Republican and Democratic primaries, and also as an independent, but he had not filed any of the petitions as of Monday evening.

Mark Clayton of Whites Creek, the 2012 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who was disowned by the state party because he volunteered for an anti-gay hate group and because of his conspiracy theories, including that Google is working for the Chinese government, has a petition out for the Democratic primary for governor.

In 2012, Clayton carried Shelby County in the statewide U.S. Senate general election, which was easily won statewide by incumbent Republican Bob Corker.

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108