One of the things about working the 3rd shift, is that you’re often greeted with tomorrow’s news today…or at least the news most people didn’t see before they decided to disconnect from the constant influx of news items, large and small, that we’ve come to accept.
So it was with both surprise and resignation that I saw reports around midnight Tuesday (going into Wednesday) of Judge Joe Brown’s ridiculous statements about DA Amy Weirich’s sexual orientation. The video, by the time I started looking for it, had been removed, but everything lives forever on the internet. Fox 13 has snippets of the video up now (Memphis Flyer has the whole ugly affair).
Wednesday afternoon, Bryan Carson, Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee released a statement distancing the party from Brown’s out of line comments.
Brown has blamed “mavericks” who are helping his campaign. He should ask them to stop helping. They’re not.
But Brown’s excuse doesn’t take away the fact that he said these things, as if sexual orientation was some kind of disqualification for office. His excuses fall flat. His justification that he has “gay friends” sounds strikingly similar to claims by white people who have a “black friend” but still tell racist jokes.
Back in March I stuck my neck out for Brown and now I wish I hadn’t. I’m not willing to say what happened in Juvenile Court that day was a stunt…but rather, it seems to be the behavior of a man who exercises no self control, who speaks before he thinks, and who either hasn’t found or doesn’t possess a line between his famous television persona and who he is as a person/candidate.
There are real issues to contrast against Weirich’s administration that have not only gone unsaid, but have been completely lost in the cult of personality that is the only thing the Brown campaign has going for it.
From police coercion in confessions,and filming of officers with cellphones, the Rape Kit debacle,a nd her anti-immigrant stance on U-Visas (h/t Brad Watkins)…to the unacceptable number of Juvenile cases that end up in adult court, or her unwillingness to publish a freakin’ annual report to inform the public about the doings of her office.
There are lots of reasons to want to look for an alternative in the DA department. But Brown just can’t get past himself to actually do it…and that means another cycle of defeat for the folks who put their faith and trust in him, and eight more years of the aforementioned bad policies from the Shelby County District Attorney’s office…which will have devastating effects on people from all walks of life, but mostly poor minorities.
But lets not kid ourselves, Brown’s shenanigans in the wake of months of campaigning in absentia are just the beginning of the disappointments for this election cycle.
I started writing my post-mortem for this cycle a couple of weeks ago. It sounds premature, but considering the lack-luster effort brought by too many candidates on the Democratic slate (Brown included), and the Party’s inability to raise funds, I don’t see this ending well for candidates from my party.
There have been some exceptions. Deidre Malone’s campaign for Mayor has been active and effective. I’m not counting her out. She’s a smart lady, and a fighter.
Cheyenne Johnson has kept her campaign discipline this cycle as well. I think she has a good chance to win re-election.
On the Commission side, many candidates are running unopposed. Most of those that have opposition are in relatively safe districts. But District 13 is different. Its a split district on a good day. Candidate Dr. Jain has mounted an impressive effort. He’s a smart guy that the County Commission will need in the upcoming term.
I only hope that these smart candidates don’t get dragged down by the distractions that others on the slate have created. Guilt by association is a real thing in politics.
And the distractions have been far too many. Between Brown’s foibles, Henri Brooks’ shenanigans, and candidates running on name recognition alone rather than putting together a bona fide county campaign, its looking like its going to be a tough year for Democrats countywide.
Just after the County primary elections, I made a prediction about turnout placing it in the 130,000 range. What I didn’t say is that at 130k voters, Democrats are in a footrace in countywide elections. Its more likely most of them will lose. If you’ve heard me speak about turnout in Shelby County, you already knew this.
I didn’t explicitly say that in May because I wasn’t as sure as I am now. Based on what I’d observed in the primary, and the results…the 5000 Democrats who didn’t vote for Joe Brown, the 10,000 that didn’t vote for Bennie Cobb, the 12,000 that either didn’t participate, or didn’t vote for Henri Brooks…those are indicators that should have caused unease with Democratic leaders. I don’t see that a single Tums was consumed in the wake of those results…and no one asked me what I thought so… yeah.
Time to Triage
Democrats may make up 68% of the voting public in November, but only 20% of those Democrats show up in August. That makes every countywide race a serious contest.
At this point, Democrats need to be realistic, and focus their donations and volunteering efforts on the people who are actually trying to win.
Deidre and Cheyenne are the top prospects on the Countywide ballot.
For the Commission, Jain is the only candidate in a split district that could take a seat from the GOP, but Reginald Milton, in Dist. 10 has a 3-way race that could split in unpredictable ways. Both have been working hard in the community.
I’m not sure who a second tier might be at this time. So few have raised any money, its hard to tell who’s viable. Most of the Clerk campaigns seem to believe the (D) next to their name will help them coast to victory, which is both wrong and a big part of the problem.
Running for office is hard. If anyone knows it, I do. If I decide to run again, there are scores of things I will do differently.
I hope some of the candidates not mentioned take note, and get their organizations up and running in a hurry. Because theres no letter in the alphabet you can put next to your name that will get you instantly elected.
You have to show up, not show out, and prove to the public why you’re the best choice for the job.