VOL. 133 | NO. 81 | Monday, April 23, 2018
Local, State and Federal Election Cycles Blend On Last Weekend of Early Voting
By Bill Dries
Candidates in the August and November elections were out on the last weekend of early voting in Shelby County in advance of the May 1 election day for county primaries.
The events were a mix of candidates from all three elections on the calendar in 2018.
In Germantown, Mayor Mike Palazzolo opened his re-election campaign at the Germantown Horse Show grounds.
The race is on the Nov. 6 ballot with an August 16 filing deadline for candidates.
Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo opened his re-election campaign Saturday at the Germantown Horse Show grounds. The race for mayor is on the November ballot. (Daily News/Bill Dries)
Palazzolo noted a quick way of telling who is a candidate on what ballot. The candidates in the May primaries are the ones with the tans or sunburns.
Palazzolo is seeking a second four-year term and is being challenged by Germantown Alderman John Barzizza.
Barzizza along with alderman Dean Massey are part of a faction in the city’s politics that in recent years have opposed multi-family development and some mixed use development and have been critical of the city’s general direction.
Palazzolo is running not only on his record as mayor, and before that as an alderman – he’s running on continuing three decades of policy on growth and development that has included changes to the community.
“What we’re going to do is continue great public safety, great public education. We are going to put a big priority on our parks system,” Palazzolo told a group of 50 supporters. “We’ve had a great run for 30 years. We are going to keep that going. The momentum is there. The city of Germantown right now is – and I apologize if there are any Collierville people here – is by the community of choice in this region.”
Palazzolo mentioned former mayor Charles Salvaggio and Sharon Goldsworthy in talking about the 30 years of policy.
He also took a jab at Barzizza without mentioning him by name.
“We never talk about our opponents. But I will tell you this, we had our kickoff in Germantown,” Palazzolo said to cheers from the crowd.
Democratic contender for Tennessee Governor Craig Fitzhugh opened his Memphis campaign headquarters Saturday. The primary race is on the August ballot. (Daily News/Bill Dries)
"The commercial growth of the city has been incredibly rapid and is incredibly alarming to many citizens," Barzizza said when he opened his campaign in March. "It has changed the nature and the piciture of our bedroom community."
State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, a contender in the August Democratic primary for Tennessee Governor, was in town Saturday, April 21, to open his Memphis campaign headquarters.
The House minority leader wasted no time in referring to last week’s vote in the state House to cut out a budget amendment for $250,000 in funding to the city of Memphis for city bicentennial observances in 2019. The Republican legislators who moved to cut the funding in the House version of the budget said several times that the move was in retaliation for the removal last year of Confederate monuments from city parks.
“They don’t particularly care for this city. I don’t know why,” Fitzhugh told a group of 40 supporters at his East Memphis campaign headquarters. “And they certainly don’t particularly care when the city does what it needs and wants to do.”
Fitzhugh, a legislator for 24 years, faces former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in the August Democratic primary for Governor. He called the primary race “a tough battle.”
“I think if we get the nomination, we can beat the Republicans. We may need a little help from Mr. Trump but I think he’s going to give it to us,” Fitzhugh said. “I call this not an auction but an election. … I’ve been blessed financially. But I’m not a multi-millionaire like the other five people in this race are. But I don’t think it’s going to take that.”
Fitzhugh touted his record as leader of the Democratic minority in the house – what he called the “fighting 25.”
“We have stopped vouchers in this state for the last six years. … We have not been successful yet but we have been fighting for Medicaid expansion,” he said. “And we’re not giving up the fight yet for that.
Fitzhugh said if he is elected governor, a Medicaid expansion of some sort would be his first act upon taking office.
An expansion proposal by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam never got to a vote in the majority Republican House and Senate. And Haslam had earlier said any proposal he made on such an expansion would have to be approved by the Legislature.
Fitzhugh said he is working on a way to enact such an expansion as soon as he takes office.
“We are losing our middle class. We are losing the ability to have that American dream. It’s not a dream that is beyond the reach of anyone in this state,” he said. “It’s just being able to give food, clothing and shelter to your family, be able to educate them, be able to make sure they are healthy by affordable and accessible health care and every once in a while maybe buy a car, put a new roof on your house, for heaven’s sake take a vacation.”
Fitzhugh noted the state low unemployment rate.
“It’s good we have it,” he added. “But you know what we have with that unemployment. We are number one in the country for the percentage of people who are on the minimum wage. … We’ve got a long way to go.”
Meanwhile going into the last weekend for early voting before ends Thursday evening, the turnout numbers were heaviest in the south Memphis county commission district that features the largest field on the primary ballot – seven Democrats running for the open District 9 seat Democratic incumbent Justin Ford currently holds.
Ford is term limited from seeking re-election and is running for the state Senate in the August legislative primaries.
In the district a total of 2,159 citizens had cast ballots through Friday, April 20, all but 49 of them Democrats. The winner of the Democratic primary meets Sharon Webb in the August county general election, who is running unopposed in the May Republican primary.
A total of 1,938 early votes were cast by citizens in commission District 3 covering Raleigh and Bartlett currently held by Republican David Reaves, who is not seeking re-election.
And 1,891 citizens cast their ballots early in commission District 4, the Germantown district where incumbent Republican commissioner Mark Billingsley and Democratic challenger Kevin Haley are each running unopposed in the May primary and automatically advance to the August county general election. The turnout suggests voters in the district are being drawn by one or more of the contested primaries for countywide office.
The early voting numbers of Districts 3 and 4 is mostly in the Republican primaries.
The fourth highest turnout by commission district in District 13 shows signs of a primary battle between Republican incumbent Steve Basar and challenger Brandon Morrison. Of the 1,841 early votes in that district, 1,240 were in the Basar-Morrison race.
Early voting through Saturday should top 20,000 once the turnout figures so far are released by the Shelby County Election Commission on Monday.
Of the 19,187 early voters through Friday, 11,075 voted in the Democratic primary and 8,112 voted in the Republican primary.
Early voting runs through Thursday. Early voting sites and hours are at www.shelbyvote.com, the website of the Shelby County Election Commission. Follow the turnout numbers for early voting on a daily basis @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols.