VOL. 131 | NO. 42 | Monday, February 29, 2016
Last Word: The Moving Election Comes to Town and Missing Early Voters Are Found
By Bill Dries
We probably haven’t had this much action with so many presidential candidates in the Memphis area since the 1984 Democratic presidential primary campaign.
Four of the contenders – three Republicans and one Democrat – in Memphis over the weekend looking for votes in advance of Tuesday’s Tennessee primary elections.
The largest crowd was the 10,000 strong turnout at the Millington Regional Jetport for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
A lot of curiosity I found in my weekend travels about not just what Trump said but about the atmosphere – the crowd and the setting for the rally and how that was handled.
So that’s part of the story as well.
The top of the story is Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton’s swing through the city Sunday morning with stops in two local churches.
Meanwhile, Friday night Republican contender John Kasich was in the University of Memphis area for what was a sometimes combative, sometimes funny encounter with a room of 700 people – some checking him out, others on Kasich’s side – for an effort Kasich insists is nowhere near over.
That despite the prospect of Trump running the table in Tuesday’s primary and caucus states.
It was also interesting that while some of the local Republican establishment views Kasich as the anti-Trump consensus, Kasich rejects being part of the party’s establishment.
And Republican contender Ben Carson did go to church in Memphis after all on Sunday. It was at Bellevue Baptist in Cordova which has hosted presidential contenders near primary election day here for several presidential election years in the recent past.
Before that he dropped by the Alpha Omega Veterans Inc. center is South Memphis. And he was asked several times – politely – how much longer he can remain in the race.
“People are not wiling for me to stand down,” he said. “I really still believe America is for the people and not the political class.”
He also compared the Republican primary contest to professional wrestling and gladiator combat in the Roman Coliseum.
If only for a bit of local briefing that could have been the Mid-South Coliseum and Carson would be riding the Coliseum preservation and professional wrestling bandwagon to victory on Tuesday at least in Shelby County.
So, that was this weekend.
We also set the stage for this end of campaign flurry with a cover story in our weekly, The Memphis News, that looks at the road to this weekend for those running in the two primaries.
It’s a longer term view of the campaigns that should give you a better view of the longer road to Memphis in what we call the “moving election.”
Shelby County Election Commissioner Anthony Tate responded to our story about the differing early voter turnout figures posted by the commission last week. That included more than 300 voters more in one of the turnout counts than another one – both produced by the Shelby County Election Commission.
I cannot stress enough or write enough that these are turnout numbers. They do not show who the early voters voted for. They do show which primary the early voters picked, who those early voters are and the precincts they live in as well as their sex and race, unless they did not indicate their race, in which case they are classified as “other."
The turnout info for early voting used to include their age range. But for some reason that wasn’t done this time around.
So, with that in mind:
Tate’s response on the discrepancy of more than 300 votes from the early voter daily turnout total and the sum of the separate Democratic and Republican primary precinct by precinct totals:
“We were unable to include precinct 00100 in the turnout report. The report has been run again and includes 00100. The participating voters list report included the 00100 voters and is correct.”
And Tate’s response on the differing totals on how many registered voters there are in Shelby County.
“We post a monthly voter registration stat file of active voters each month, as a service to the public. This is not a statutory requirement. The Active TN - Voter Registration Ward-Precinct Stat File Detail Report of reference on our website was created 2-9-2016 and accurate as of the date / time the report was run. All timely submitted voter registration forms before the new voter registration deadline on February 1, 2016 continue to be processed thus the number increases accordingly.
The daily reports published to our website during early voting uses active and inactive when calculating turn-out percentages, since inactive voters are part of the pool of voters who are eligible to participate in that election.
Regarding 1 voter. A clerical correction was made to the SCEC website, as well as, the state’s.”
So that's the response. I would point out that being an inactive voter does not and should not hinder your ability to vote at all. It does not mean you have been purged.
A busy two days coming up for the Memphis City Council. Monday it’s a committee meeting on possibly limiting the speakers at the end of the twice a month council sessions.
These kind of periods where citizens can speak on anything – mostly items not on the agenda – are a common feature of local legislative bodies across the country.
The council, for the last two summers, has been getting an earful about the decision to cut benefits to city employees and retirees. That’s turned into a broader call for a forensic audit of city finances.
While the numbers are smaller these days at the council session, there is still a determined and vocal group of council critics who continue to show up.
What made this an issue is the husband of one of those critics showed up at the family funeral business where council member Edmund Ford Jr. maintains an office. He is a Memphis Police officer who was in uniform.
Here’s the back story on how this arrived at the doorstep of a council committee Monday.
Tuesday, of course, is the regular council day at City Hall and council members are likely to see another large group of citizens in their committee room for the discussion Tuesday of Overton Park and the greensward controversy. More on that in the next edition of Last Word.
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid boosted attendance at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show this year.
The annual event at the Memphis Cook Convention Center was this weekend.
The show includes some of the latest farm and ag technology.
And this year, it included a mixer the night before the first day to get venture capital folks together with farmers and others in ag technology. It’s part of a drive by AgLaunch, which is part of Memphis Bioworks, to build a $10 million fund and create or bring to the region 100 new ag companies in the next five years.
More from our Women and Business seminar last week at the Brooks, particularly from our keynote speaker Carolyn Hardy who had a lot to say about the “good old boys club.”
The big awards show, of course, was this weekend. No, not the Oscars – the Addys. The awards are an important date on the calendar for those in the city’s marketing and public relations business.
Here are the winners.
As the weekend began, Baptist got turned down by the state for an emergency room facility in Lakeland. The facility was to be a collaboration between Baptist and Regional One Health. And the state board that denied this application also denied another one by Baptist for the same kind of facility at Quince and Kirby.
The board heard from proponent and opponents of this and came down on the side of not seeing a need and not having a plan for an “orderly development of health care.”
And in The Memphis News Almanac: the Shelby Farms Showplace Arena opens, Little Richard in Memphis, the original location of the Poplar Lounge, fixing the river bank and plans for a 12-story bus terminal and hotel.