Thursday, October 11, 2001



Posted By on Thu, Oct 11, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Shelby County’s political constellation has shifted measurably in the last two days, with credible word going out among insiders that one major potential candidate, A C Wharton, had decided against running for county mayor while another, Mark Luttrell, had made a firm decision to run for sheriff. A leading supporter of Wharton’s dismissed talk of his man’s departure from the race, however, and insisted late Thursday that the Shelby County Public Defender was still in the race and would shortly announce for the office, as had previously been indicated. “I talked to him today, and he’s running,” said this source. Wharton himself was not available for comment. WHARTON: If Wharton should indeed make a declaration of non-candidacy, his action would abort a considerable momentum that has been working in his favor in political circles, not only in the Democratic Party (whose primary he has been expected to run in) but among many of the county’s Republicans and independents as well. Conversely, some of Wharton’s potential Democratic opponents -- notably Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, who has already announced for county mayor and begun a well-heeled campaign -- have made the most of Wharton’s GOP connections, mainly people close to outgoing Mayor Jim Rout (a Republican who has distanced himself from his erstwhile supporters’ pro-Wharton effort). City council member Ta Juan Stout-Mitchell was among several blacks at a Byrd fund-raiser last week who expressed unease at the degree of support for Wharton in the traditional Shelby County business/government establishment. Even so, Wharton has had good support among key Democrats as well -- two examples being former party chairman David Cocke and State Senator Steve Cohen -- and has been reckoned by most observers as being the man to beat if he pursued a race. Byrd has continued to campaign vigorously and is apparently geared up for a lengthy one-on-one struggle, if Wharton decides to stay in. Among other Democrats, State Senator Jim Kyle has polls which show him in a strong, competitive situation in the party primary, while State Representative Carol Chumney is beginning to intensify her efforts among party cadres and has several forthcoming events planned. Among Republicans, District Attorney General Bill Gibbons has formed an exploratory committee, while lawyer and former Memphis city councilman John Bobango continues to express interest in running. Both are considered strong potential contenders, but only one of them (by prior agreement between the two) will end up running. Meanwhile, the two are enacting a complicated ritual whereby each says beatific things about the other while (perhaps) trying to out-maneuver him for party support. LUTTRELL: The director of Shelby County's Division of Corrections has, friends say, made a firm decision to seek the office of sheriff in next year's Republican primary. The 54-year-old Luttrell worked almost a quarter century as an administrator in the federal corrections system, and served as warden of three penal institutions. After years of turmoil and scandal involving Sheriff's Department personnel and policies, Luttrell came to the fore as the result, more or less, of key Republicans' search for someone who was both a new face -- at least to the county's voters -- and yet had ample experience in law enforcement. Other Republicans seeking the office are Chief Deputy Don Wright and two other Sheriff’s Department administrators, Bobby Simmons and Mike Jewell. Assistant Chief Randy Wade is so far the only major declared Democratic candidate and has mounted a strong campaign with support from elements of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton’s organization.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Surprises Galore at Local GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner

      Strickland says he eschews local media; Keynoter Alberto Gonzales picks a bone or two with President Trump; and candidates turn up in droves.
    • Members of Congress React to Trump Speech

      Congressmen Cohen and Kustoff, Senators Alexander and Corker weigh in on President's adderess to joint session.
    • Haslam Clears Way for District 95 Special Election

      On Thursday, March 2, Gov. Bill Haslam issued a writ ordering a special election to replace ex-Rep. Mark Lovell in state House District 95. The primary election date is Thursday, April 27, and the general election will be held on Thursday, June 15. The Shelby County Commission may meanwhile proceed to name an interim successor.

Speaking of School Consolidation


Readers also liked…

  • Tennessee Legislators Act to Disqualify Cruz for Presidency

    Yarbro, Powell introduce bill banning any candidate why is not "natural born" from ballot or from receiving electoral votes.
    • Jan 25, 2016
  • The Big River Crossing: A Weekend to Remember

    The giant locomotive whistles, the inspiring speeches, the dazzling display of rainbow lighting on the Harahan Bridge at night, and the first treks across the bridge by foot and by bike are all embedded in Memphis history now, as the "Main St. to Main St. Multi-Modal Connector" project came to pass, linking Memphis to West Memphis, and both to the future. (WITH SLIDESHOW AND VIDEO OF BRIDGE LIGHTS)
    • Oct 25, 2016
  • Politics or Government in Shelby County?

    It’s hard to tell the difference, as the Shelby County Commission and the Luttrell administration continue their power struggle.
    • Aug 27, 2015

Most Commented On

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation