VOL. 131 | NO. 65 | Thursday, March 31, 2016
Basar Out in 8th District Race, Luttrell Pulls Petition, Cohen Could Have Easy Ride
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Basar has called off his plan to run in the crowded Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District, but Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has pulled his petition to join the same crowded field.
And with one week left to the filing deadline for the Aug. 4 state and federal primary elections in Shelby County, 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen may have the easiest primary of his congressional career.
The filing deadline is April 7 for the primary contests as well as a set of nonpartisan races for five of the nine Shelby County Schools board seats, two countywide judicial positions and two municipal judge positions in Bartlett.
As of late Wednesday, March 30, 80 citizens in Shelby County had pulled qualifying petitions and 29 had filed the petitions with the Shelby County Election Commission.
Basar was one of five Shelby Countians who announced their intention to run for the 8th District seat within hours of incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher announcing he would not seek re-election.
Basar said Tuesday that he made his decision not to formally enter the race after talking with voters in the district, which includes East Memphis and Cordova as well as Jackson, Tenn., and rural West Tennessee.
“I am looking forward to continuing my work on the Shelby County Commission where I consider it a privilege and an honor to serve my constituents,” he said in a written statement.
Luttrell announced his intention to run March 1 at the Madison County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner in Jackson.
He pulled his qualifying petition March 23.
The Shelby County candidates who have filed so far are former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, state Sen. Brian Kelsey, former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood and businessman David Maldonado.
As of Wednesday, none of the five Shelby Countians with petitions out for the 8th District Democratic primary had filed their petitions.
Whoever files in the primaries in Shelby County will be joined by contenders – Democratic and Republican – from other counties in the district.
Cohen filed his qualifying petition March 21 to run for another two years in Congress starting with the August Democratic primary.
The 9th District is all within Shelby County and covers most of the county except those parts in the 8th Congressional District.
Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford has pulled a qualifying petition for the Democratic primary but had not filed as of Wednesday.
M. Latroy Williams, a perennial candidate for office and the owner of several political endorsement ballots locally, filed his petition to run against Cohen in February. He began actively campaigning for Congress before the Memphis elections in 2015.
Williams had filed to run for Memphis mayor last year. He withdrew from the race before Election Day, but after the deadline to have his name removed from the ballot. Williams immediately converted his campaign signs for mayor to read that he was a candidate for Congress in 2016.
In the primary races for the 16 seats in the Tennessee Legislature representing Shelby County, every incumbent is seeking re-election.
Republican state Sen. Mark Norris had no potential challengers Democratic or Republican as of Wednesday.
Democratic state Sen. Sara Kyle had two potential challengers in the Democratic primary. But so far, she is the only one to file for the ballot.
In the primaries for the 14 state House seats covering Shelby County, all 14 incumbents have pulled petitions to seek re-election.
Eight of the 14 have no opposition so far in the August primaries.
Five have no opposition as of Wednesday – Democratic or Republican – meaning they could effectively win re-election at next week’s filing deadline.
District 85 incumbent Democrat Johnnie Turner has three potential challengers in her August primary.
District 95 incumbent Republican Curry Todd has three potential challengers in his August primary.
And District 91 incumbent Democrat Raumesh Akbari has two potential primary challengers.
Retired University of Memphis law professor Lawrence Pivnick has pulled a petition to run in the special nonpartisan election for Circuit Court Judge Division 3.
Current Division 3 Judge Valerie Smith, who was appointed to the position by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam through the August special election, has filed to run for the rest of the term through 2022.
Attorney Michael Floyd has filed to run in the race as well and has a petition out for Chancellor Part 3 where current Chancellor Jim Newsom is seeking the rest of the term of office through 2022 after also being appointed by Haslam.