With the upcoming Labor Day holiday, finally, some 6 months in, the Memphis Mayoral race is set to start heating up. With 3 top tier candidates, Herenton, Chumney, and Morris polling in a tight group, it seems almost certain that Herenton, with his guaranteed 30ish% and the power of the incumbency behind him, will win an unprecedented fifth term in office unless something radically changes.
I’m not going to make a determination as to whether that would be a good or bad thing, but with over 60% of the population favoring “someone else”, one would think that Herenton has outstayed his welcome in the Bluff City’s top spot.
This puts the upstarts and their supporters in the awkward position of either remaining loyal to their candidate and effectively splitting the vote, with both losing, or quietly coming together behind a consensus candidate that can do what no one has done before, defeat Herenton.
It’s a hard pill to swallow really. Both main challengers have their plusses and minuses. Both have their fervent supporters and detractors, many of whom are my friends. I’ve chosen to not take sides in any of this, watching from the sidelines and taking notes along the way. The one area of agreement that both camps seem to have is that it’s time for a change in Memphis, and that is really the issue at hand here.
Memphis is a divided city. More divided that anyone is really ready to admit. Since 1991, Herenton has used that division to his advantage, and by all accounts, barring some tectonic shift, he will use that to his advantage again this election year. This is the same brand of politics by division that Karl Rove and his cohorts used in 2000, the 2002 midterms, and 2004. We have the opportunity to stop it right here, right now, but it will take some co-ordination and concession.
I don’t know, and won’t say who the candidate is that can bring the city together, even if for a fleeting moment. But I know one thing for sure, if someone doesn’t work in that direction, their candidacy is screwed.
On September 10th, we have the opportunity to view the challengers in a real live debate on Channel 3 from 7 to 8 pm sponsored by MPACT Memphis and WREG Channel 3. The one hour debate is accepting question ideas from you, the people of Memphis. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Herenton was invited, but declined. This gives the 60% the opportunity to make an informed decision and hopefully not fall into the 30ish % trap so expertly set by the Herenton campaign.
Change seems to be what Memphis wants, but without some kind of coordination or concentration, we seem destined to more of the same. If we want change, we have to come together.