Wednesday, February 27, 2002

ON THEIR MARK: MAYOR'S RACE

ON THEIR MARK: MAYOR'S RACE

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 4:00 AM

On the Democratic mayoral front, it’s still a three-way struggle between Public Defender A C Wharton, Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, and State Representative Carol Chumney. Wharton’s camp -- candidate, entourage, and all -- exudes a confidence that could, in the end, be self-limiting. At the opening of his Poplar Avenue headquarters on Saturday, Wharton exhorted his crowd (several hundred strong, but containing no notable new faces) with thoughts about victory and of “progress” for Shelby County but avoided mention of any issues or other particulars. As before, the chief plank in Wharton’s platform would seem to be himself -- a smooth, likeable, reassuring presence, but one with a rhetoric that so far is skating lightly on the surface of eggs.. During the previous week a member of Wharton’s campaign team fretted abut an “image problem” and confided his fears that the candidate might be taking his African-American base for granted,. He noted the continued courtship of black ministers by opponent Byrd, who indeed scheduled a “Ministers’ Luncheon” as such for this week. Despite occasional reports from his own camp that he intends some hard-hitting issues-talk, Byrd himself has tended so far to be somewhat unspecific, although at a recent, well-attended women’s luncheon he promised an array of “position papers” and uttered some cautious grace notes about Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton‘s proposals for city/county consolidation. Chumney, meanwhile, has her endorsements -- from the AFL-CIO and from the Women’s Caucus, among others -- and is pursuing a strategy of direct advocacy for positions, including those of consolidation and programmed debt-reduction. On the Republican side, most party cadres are still lined up solidly with State Representative Larry Scroggs, who -- along with Chumney -- has been freshly empowered by new legislation, signed week before last by Governor Don Sundquist, that eases restrictions on in-session fundraising for members of the General Assembly, who are now allowed to raise money for local races. Especially considering that the legislature -- hung up as always in a budget-plan stalemate -- is now in the second week of a three-week hiatus, that should generate some immediate fundraising activity on the part of Scroggs and Chumney, both of whom are facing opponents with fatter war chests. In Scroggs’ case, that’s George Flinn, the radiologist and broadcasting magnate, who is prepared to open his considerable private cashbox wide -- to the tune of half a million dollars in the primary alone, “or more if the situation requires it,” according to campaign chairman Phil Langsdon. Much of that would presumably be used for newspaper and broadcast advertising -- the “air war,” as it is referred to in political-campaign lingo. The Flinn campaign has also hired as campaign manager Ruth Ogles, who ran a respectable race of her own for the Memphis school board in 2000.

Monday, February 25, 2002

BROTHER ACT?

Candidate Avery charges 'skulduggery' in District 4, Pos. 1

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2002 at 4:00 AM

It’s an old ploy -- the idea of one candidate’s putting another in his own race to dilute the "anti"-vote against him or her -- and it has either happened again in a hotly contested Shelby County Commission race, or it hasn’t happened at all, depending on who you ask. If it’s Joyce Avery, who’s hoping to unseat Clair VanderSchaaf in District 4, Position 1, she’ll tell you that the incumbent and his half brother, Greg Brannick, both of whom are on the Republican primary ballot with her, are in cahoots to split the anti-VanderSchaaf vote. “Skulduggery,” she called it in a press release on Sunday. “’Commissioner Vanderschaaf has a long history of cutting deals that benefit him personally. Placing his brother into this county commission race is just one more act of under-handedness,’” veteran GOP activist Avery is quoted in the release, which continues, “Vanderschaaf’s half-brother, perennial candidate Greg Brannick, filed for the commission seat one day prior to the qualifying deadline for candidates. Days earlier, Brannick moved his voter registration into District 4.” If it’s Clair VanderSchaaf you ask, he’ll dismiss the accusation out of hand, saying that he and his half-brother (they have the same mother and different fathers, and Commissioner VanderSchaaf is the older by almost two decades) are “not all that close.” He will say further, “I didn’t know he was going to file or why. He didn’t tell me. Maybe he thought I wasn’t going to.” And if it’s Brannick, a real estate manager who has made two previous races (for state representative and for Bartlett alderman), you’ll get another denial (of sorts): “I think something very similar is going on in the Ford family,” Brannick says first, presumably referring to a race between siblings Joe Ford and Ophelia Ford for the commission seat formerly held by the late Dr. James Ford, their brother. (Joe Ford, a former Memphis city councilman and 1999 candidate for mayor, was appointed to the seat by the commission on an interim basis.) Brannick goes on to note that he filed at the Election Commission on Wednesday, a day ahead of brother Clair, who filed on Thursday, the deadline for candidacies -- a fact which both brothers cite as evidence for the possibility that there was no collusion and no foreknowledge by either that both would be on the ballot. Both VanderSchaaf and Brannick maintain that they never talked about the race before their respective filings. “We’re not even all that close,” avers VanderSchaaf further, while Brannick talks vaguely of “research” he will perform before deciding whether to stayin or get out by the withdrawal deadline of this Thursday. Avery is having none of it. Her press release maintains: “He got his brother to file because he doesn’t think he can get 50% of the votes. He’s hoping to split the anti-Vanderschaaf vote between his brother and me so that he can slide back in with a plurality of the votes. I’m working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Avery’s public motive for running against VanderSchaaf (also alluded to in her release) is that he voted for a wheel-tax increase and to fund the soon-to-be-built NBA arena while voting against a measure to fully fund the county schools. An unexpressed reason -- at least for many of her supporters -- is that of payback for VanderSchaaf’s siding with the commission’s Democrats year before last in a complex arrangement that saw former commissioner Shep Wilbun move to the post of Juvenile Court clerk while developer Tom Moss was appointed to the commission. A significant number of local Republicans -- and the rest of the Republicans on the commission --wanted to see David Lillard (now a candidate for another seat) on the commission and then deputy clerk Steve Stamson (now a candidate to unseat Wilbun). All of the above circumstances give the VanderSchaaf/Brannick/Avery race more than ordinary interest.
  • Commissioner VanderSchaaf professes to be bemused by the whole thing -- and, for that matter, by what might have happened had he chosen to run for Shelby County mayor instead of for reelection. As recently as the Christmas season the developer and long-term commission incumbent thought seriously about it but ultimately decided -- "for business reasons," he says -- not to do it. But , says VanderSchaaf, he still wonders what might have happened -- especially, he says, after what Democrat A C Wharton told him, in the wake of a poll purporting to show that the Shelby County Public Defender was running comfortably ahead of all extant comers. "He said to me,' I sure do thank you for not running.' And he made it sound like his poll had me way up there.." (No mention of how brother Greg Brannick might have done in such a poll.)

    Thursday, February 21, 2002

    Trifectas

    Three's a crowd in several of this year's most closely watched political races.

    Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Though the full rosters of candidates won't have been completed until next Thursday's deadline for withdrawal (following this week's filing deadline), the lineups are reasonably clear as to who's who in a number of key races.

    Take the race for Shelby County Sheriff, for example. In both major parties, a trio of ranking competitors will vie for the nomination. Among Democrats, they are Randy Wade, E.C. Jones, and Henry Hooper. In the GOP, the Big Three are Don Wright, Bobby Simmons, and Mark Luttrell.

    Wade and Simmons are ranking departmental officers who argue plausibly that they have not been in the loop of the department's command structure during its turbulent recent history. Wright, who is chief deputy, must, for better and for worse, own up to having been there. Jones, a city councilman; Hooper, a former Secret Service agent; and Luttrell, director of the county's Corrections Division, can make the case that they are outsiders.

    Three is the dividing number, too, in the contest for the District 5 seat on the Shelby County Commission -- one which may determine the shape of things to come, since whichever party wins it will have the capability of dominating party-lines by the narrow margin of seven to six.

    Among Democrats, veteran political figure Joe Cooper has held the fort by himself for a longish time, but at press time there were reports that he might have company before the week was out -- possibly from lawyer Guthrie Castle, who made two unsuccessful runs for Congress but has kept his hand in politically, notably in the 2000 presidential race on behalf of Democratic nominee Al Gore.

    The center ring, however, may be reserved for the melee involving three Republicans seeking the District 5 seat. They are lawyer John Ryder, a GOP veteran with a chestful of I.O.U.s and a determination to cash them in; financial planner Bruce Thompson, a newcomer who has filled up a few cash buckets himself; and Jerry Cobb, a contractor who has long been a principal spokesperson for those dissatisfied with the reigning hierarchy of the local Republican Party.

    Ryder's partisans agree with his conclusion that, having acted for two decades as a guiding figure in party affairs, providing key assistance or direct management in almost all important races during that time, and serving today as a Republican national committeeman from Tennessee, he has, as he puts it, come into "my time" to wear the mantle of candidate.

    Discontented Republicans are, of course, likely to regard the former chairman's extensive history to be liability rather than asset.

    Thompson is a new face who talked up the race with many of the party's leading figures -- not excluding Ryder -- before he cast his die as a candidate. One of his key backers, city council member Jack Sammons (who doubles as the local Republican treasurer), recently hosted a fund-raiser for Thompson which hoisted his already impressive total all the way up to what the candidate claims is a war chest of $75,000.

    Cobb won't raise much money, but he has at his disposal the same hardy, stubborn, and dedicated corps of supporters who helped him mount a credible challenge last year to the reelection of local GOP chairman Alan Crone.

    After the Monday night meeting of the Southeast Shelby Republican Club (which had seen a spirited free-for-all forum among the three GOP candidates for sheriff), Ryder and Thompson had a jesting exchange over the issue of whether Thompson might attend a forthcoming Ryder fund-raiser (one subscribed to by a who's who of party figures).

    "Only if you pay," said Ryder, observing that his ticket price of $250 was more reasonable than the $1,000-a-head asked for the Sammons affair.

    "Well, you get what you pay for," responded Thompson. "It just shows a greater willingness on the part of my supporters."

    The exchange continued along such lines, with Ryder suggesting helpfully that if Thompson did make it to his fund-raiser (to be hosted by department store magnate and former legislator Brad Martin at the Saks Conference Center next Tuesday), "You'll get lost in the crowd."

    "Not if I come with my girlfriend," said Thompson, referring to a recent Miss Tennessee.

    The exchange was good-natured but tinged with an acidity that could turn quite sharp in the heat of future combat.

    There are those in the Republican Party who see a handwriting-on-the-wall in Ryder's decision to enter a race on his own rather than guide the campaign for county mayor of state Representative Larry Scroggs, interpreting the decision as something less than a vote of confidence in Scroggs' general election prospects in a year in which county demographics have shifted in favor of the Democrats.

    And there are other Republicans who fear that the three-way District 5 primary could engender divisive feelings that could hurt the party in any case.

    Crone, for one, professes to be untroubled about the prospect, seeing the contest as one that could generate high interest among party cadres and thus not only boost voting levels in other Republican primary races but generate interest in the general election contests to come.

    Contests that are much more likely to be simple one-on-ones and not three-on-a-match.

    TRIFECTAS

    TRIFECTAS

    Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    p>Three's a crowd in several of this year's most closely watched political races. Though the full rosters of candicates won't have been completed until next Thursday's deadline for withdrawal (following this week's filing deadline), the lineups are reasonably clear as to who's who in a number of key races. Take the race for Shelby County Sheriff, for example. In both major parties, a trio of ranking competitors will vie for the nomination. Among Democrats, they are Randy Wade, E.C. Jones, and Henry Hooper. In the GOP, the Big Three are Don Wright, Bobby Simmons, and Mark Luttrell. Wade and Simmons are ranking departmental officers who argue plausibly that they have not been in the loop of the department's command structure during its turbulent recent history. Wright, who is chief deputy, must, for better and for worse, own up to having been there. Jones, a city councilman; Hooper, a former Secret Service agent; and Luttrell, director of the county's Corrections Division, can make the case that they are outsiders. Three is the dividing number, too, in the contest for the District 5 seat on the Shelby County Commission Ñ one which may determine the shape of things to come, since whichever party wins it will have the capability of dominating party-lines by the narrow margin of 7 to 6. Among Democrats, veteran political figure Joe Cooper has held the fort by himself for a longish time, but at press time there were reports that he might have company before the week was out -- possibly from lawyer Guthrie Castle, who made two unsuccessful runs for Congress but has kept his hand in politically, notably in the 2000 presidential race on behalf of Democratic nominee Al Gore. The center ring, however, may be reserved for the melee involving three Republicans seeking the District 5 seat. They are lawyer John Ryder, a GOP veteran with a chestful of I.O.U.'s and a determination to cash them in; financial planner Bruce Thompson, a newcomer who has filled up a few cashbuckets himself; and Jerry Cobb, a contractor who has long been a principal spokesperson for those dissatisifed with the reigning hierarchy of the local Republican Party. Ryder's partisans agree with his conclusion that, having acted for two decades as a guiding figure in party affairs, providing key assistance or direct management in almost all important races during that time, and serving today as a Reublican national committeeman from Tennessee, he has, as he puts it, come into "my time" to wear the mantle of candidate. (Discontented Republicans are, of course, likely to regard the former chairman's extensive history to be liability rather than asset.) Thompson is a new face who talked up the race with numerous of the party's leading figures Ñ not excluding Ryder Ñ before he cast his die as a candidate. One of his key backers, city council member Jack Sammons (who doubles as the local Republican treasurer), recently hosted a fundraiser for Thompson which hoisted his already impressive total all the way up to what the candidate claims is a war chest of $75,000. Cobb won't raise much money, but he has at his disposal the same hardy, stubborn, and dedicated corps of supporters who helped him mount a credible challenge last year to the reelection of local GOP chairman Alan Crone. After the Monday night meeting of the Southeast Shelby Republican Club (which had seen a spirited free-for-all forum among the three GOP candidates for sheriff) , Ryder and Thompson had a jestingexchange over the issue of whether Thompson might attend a forthcoming Ryder fundraiser (one subscribed to by a Who's Who of party figures). "Only if you pay," said Ryder, observing that his ticket price of $250 was more reasonable than the $1,000-a-head asked for the Sammons affair. "Well, you get what you pay for," responded Thompson. "It just shows a greater willingness on the part of my supporters." The exchange continued along such lines, with Ryder suggesting helpfully that if Thompson did make it to his fundraiser (to be hosted by department store magnate and former legislator Brad Martin at the Saks Conference Center next Tuesday, "You'll get lost in the crowd." "Not if I come with my girl friend," said Thompson, referring to a recent Miss Tennessee. The exchange was good-natured but tinged with an acidity that could turn quite shaRp in the heat of future combat. There are those in the Republican Party who see a handwriting-on-the wall in Ryder's decision to enter a race on his own rather than guide the campaign for county mayor of State Representative Larry Scroggs, interpreting the decision as smething less than a vote of confidence in Scroggs's general election prospects in a year in which county demographics have shifted in favor of the Democrats. And there are other Republicans who fear that the three-way District 5 primary could engender divisive feelings that could hurt the party in any case. Crone, for one, professes to be untroubled about the prospect, seeing the contest as one that could generate high interest among party cadres and thus not only boost voting levels in other Republican primary races but generate interest in the general election contests to come. Contests that are much more likely to be simple one-on-ones and not three-on-a-match.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2002

    TRIFECTAS

    TRIFECTAS

    Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    p>Three's a crowd in several of this year's most closely watched political races. Though the full rosters of candicates won't have been completed until next Thursday's deadline for withdrawal (following this week's filing deadline), the lineups are reasonably clear as to who's who in a number of key races. Take the race for Shelby County Sheriff, for example. In both major parties, a trio of ranking competitors will vie for the nomination. Among Democrats, they are Randy Wade, E.C. Jones, and Henry Hooper. In the GOP, the Big Three are Don Wright, Bobby Simmons, and Mark Luttrell. Wade and Simmons are ranking departmental officers who argue plausibly that they have not been in the loop of the department's command structure during its turbulent recent history. Wright, who is chief deputy, must, for better and for worse, own up to having been there. Jones, a city councilman; Hooper, a former Secret Service agent; and Luttrell, director of the county's Corrections Division, can make the case that they are outsiders. Three is the dividing number, too, in the contest for the District 5 seat on the Shelby County Commission -- one which may determine the shape of things to come, since whichever party wins it will have the capability of dominating party-lines by the narrow margin of 7 to 6. Among Democrats, veteran political figure Joe Cooper has held the fort by himself for a longish time, but at press time there were reports that he might have company before the week was out -- possibly from lawyer Guthrie Castle, who made two unsuccessful runs for Congress but has kept his hand in politically, notably in the 2000 presidential race on behalf of Democratic nominee Al Gore. The center ring, however, may be reserved for the melee involving three Republicans seeking the District 5 seat. They are lawyer John Ryder, a GOP veteran with a chestful of I.O.U.'s and a determination to cash them in; financial planner Bruce Thompson, a newcomer who has filled up a few cashbuckets himself; and Jerry Cobb, a contractor who has long been a principal spokesperson for those dissatisifed with the reigning hierarchy of the local Republican Party. Ryder's partisans agree with his conclusion that, having acted for two decades as a guiding figure in party affairs, providing key assistance or direct management in almost all important races during that time, and serving today as a Reublican national committeeman from Tennessee, he has, as he puts it, come into "my time" to wear the mantle of candidate. (Discontented Republicans are, of course, likely to regard the former chairman's extensive history to be liability rather than asset.) Thompson is a new face who talked up the race with numerous of the party's leading figures -- not excluding Ryder -- before he cast his die as a candidate. One of his key backers, city council member Jack Sammons (who doubles as the local Republican treasurer), recently hosted a fundraiser for Thompson which hoisted his already impressive total all the way up to what the candidate claims is a war chest of $75,000. Cobb won't raise much money, but he has at his disposal the same hardy, stubborn, and dedicated corps of supporters who helped him mount a credible challenge last year to the reelection of local GOP chairman Alan Crone. After the Monday night meeting of the Southeast Shelby Republican Club (which had seen a spirited free-for-all forum among the three GOP candidates for sheriff) , Ryder and Thompson had a jestingexchange over the issue of whether Thompson might attend a forthcoming Ryder fundraiser (one subscribed to by a Who's Who of party figures). "Only if you pay," said Ryder, observing that his ticket price of $250 was more reasonable than the $1,000-a-head asked for the Sammons affair. "Well, you get what you pay for," responded Thompson. "It just shows a greater willingness on the part of my supporters." The exchange continued along such lines, with Ryder suggesting helpfully that if Thompson did make it to his fundraiser (to be hosted by department store magnate and former legislator Brad Martin at the Saks Conference Center next Tuesday, "You'll get lost in the crowd." "Not if I come with my girl friend," said Thompson, referring to a recent Miss Tennessee. The exchange was good-natured but tinged with an acidity that could turn quite shaRp in the heat of future combat. There are those in the Republican Party who see a handwriting-on-the wall in Ryder's decision to enter a race on his own rather than guide the campaign for county mayor of State Representative Larry Scroggs, interpreting the decision as smething less than a vote of confidence in Scroggs's general election prospects in a year in which county demographics have shifted in favor of the Democrats. And there are other Republicans who fear that the three-way District 5 primary could engender divisive feelings that could hurt the party in any case. Crone, for one, professes to be untroubled about the prospect, seeing the contest as one that could generate high interest among party cadres and thus not only boost voting levels in other Republican primary races but generate interest in the general election contests to come. Contests that are much more likely to be simple one-on-ones and not three-on-a-match.

    Monday, February 18, 2002

    Assorted Political Notes

    Assorted Political Notes

    Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    The Shelby County Republican Party's eminent Flinn-Scroggs mayoral showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of GOP harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of radiologist George Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by party eminence John Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as votng for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    George Flinn Gets In

    George Flinn Gets In

    Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    George Flinn, a radiologist and media magnate who has made a career of bucking various establishments and profiting thereby, is targeting yet another establishment -- that of the Shelby County Republican Party -- and expects, against all odds, to end up the winner again. Flinn, who based his thriving medical practice on confronting and challenging the city's medical establishment, will file a petition this Friday to run in the GOP primary for county mayor. His action ends a period of back-and-forthing in which Flinn first sought the Republican hierachy's blessing and was spurned, then considered an independent run, then finally resolved to take on State Representative Larry Scroggs, one of the best-liked and best-respected people in local politics and the candidate who has the unmistakeable stamp of approval from his party's leadership. Why would he do such a thing, and how does he think he can get away with it? His answer to the first question goes like this: "I've been a Memphian for over 50 years, and I'v been watching things from the sidelines. It's really no secret that people don't think they're getting their money's worth from government. Most people don't hear the voice of leadership in the people who have so far announced for county mayor. That's why I'm stepping forth." And, as a political and governmental neophyte, his answer to the second question goes like this: "I've built a successful medical practice and successful radio and tv stations from the ground up. I've got the ability to lead and work with people. The fact is, I get into situations all the time where I don't know the facts to start with, but my medical training has prepared me to locate the root problems, make a diagnosis, and find a solution." As for Scroggs, who was the end result of a desperate search by the local Republican hierarchy to find a plausible and politically experienced candidate willing to run this year, Flinn says, "I've met Larry Scroggs twice, and I find him likeable and sincere. I'm sure he knows government, especially at the state level, but the fact is, we need some fresh eyes." Flinn offered his own eyes -- and the rest of his somewhat Mr. Peeperish countenance -- to the Republicans last fall when preferred candidates like District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, former city councilman John Bobango, and ex-Memphis Redbirds president Allie Prescott all turned down entreaties to run. To his dismay, Flinn's offer of himself was not met with immediate acceptance from local Republican chairman Alan Crone, veteran GOP strategist John Ryder, or any of the other party eminences who were then leading the hunt for a candidate. As a newcomer, he was asked to consider making a race for state representative instead. Flinn simmered for a while, then went through a period of indecisiveness. Just before the New Year, he filed a petition to run in the Republican primary, thought better of it, withdrew the petition, and began a rethinking of his situation. For a while, he thought he might run as an independent but eventually decided that, to have even a theoretical chance of winning a countywide campaign, he needed the party infrastructure. Hence, his filing this week. "I believe that a major party is the right vehicle to address the problems of Shelby County," he says, 'and I'm a Republican by nature, a believer in getting the most out of government for the least expense. " He adds, meaningfully, "But you can find the Old Guard in both parties, and I would appeal to Democrats and independents, too." Some Republicans may question that ecumenical streak. One of Flinn's potential handicaps as a Republican candidate is that his son Shea Flinn, now a freshly credentialed lawyer, ran as a Democratic candidate for the legislature only two years ago. "I don't see that as a problem," Flinn says. "People understand that different generations see the same things differently." A tendency to see things differently manifests itself in every aspect of George Flinn's career. A medical colleague who supports Scroggs talked last week of how Flinn's tendency not to "gel" with establishments led him first to start a radiology practice that, in effect, was in direct competition with hospital-based procedures and, later, to become an innovator in the science of ultrasound technology, an area in which he holds several lucrative patents. His patents and his practice have made Flinn wealthy (enough so to have helped establish the 38 broadcast stations he owns nationwide), and , ironically, he has certain advantages over his more orthodox -- and politically better-known -- GOP opponent. Flinn, who will hold conventional fundraisers, starts the race with somewhere between $250,000 and half a million of his own money ready to go. (Rep. Scroggs, who raised $100,000 recently, is prohibited by state law from active fundraising while the legislature is in session. Differing measures to abolish such restrictions have passed both houses of the General Assembly but still await reconciliation in committee. Gamely, Scroggs, a conscientious legislator with committee responsibilities and bills under way, vows to keep a promise to serve through the current spring session.) Flinn has used his money to engage a high-priced consultant, Tom Pardue of Atlanta, who helped Sen. Bill Frist win his first victory in 1994 against then incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser. Businessman/pol Karl Schledwitz, who has been associated with Democrat Sasser for a quarter century, remembers Pardue bitterly as a "hatchetman," but Flinn promises to run a "highly positive" campaign. He'll have help locally from several out-of-the-loop Republicans -- one of whom, Dr. Phil Langsdon, is a former two-term GOP chairman who, moreover, came to power in 1991 as the champion of Republican have-nots versus the haves of that era. Langsdon, a facial plastic surgeon who disavows any political ambitions of his own (but was known to have been interested in running for Congress if Ed Bryant's 8th District seat had opened up this year) will serve as Flinn's campaign manager and professes excitement at the prospect. "He's got a fresh outlook and real ability," says Langsdon. "He's going to surprise the political hacks who doubt him."
  • The Flinn-Scroggs showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of Republican harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant< b>Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as voting for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    Saturday, February 16, 2002

    POLITICAL NOTES

    POLITICAL NOTES

    Posted By on Sat, Feb 16, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    The Shelby County Republican Party's eminent Flinn-Scroggs mayoral showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of GOP harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of radiologist George Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by party eminence John Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as votng for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    Friday, February 15, 2002

    Flinn's In (Again)

    A successful eccentric tests waters that are turning turbulent for the GOP.

    Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    George Flinn, a radiologist and media magnate who has made a career of bucking various establishments and profiting thereby, is targeting yet another establishment -- that of the Shelby County Republican Party -- and expects, against all odds, to end up the winner again.

    Flinn, who based his thriving medical practice on confronting and challenging the city's medical establishment, will file a petition this Friday to run in the GOP primary for county mayor.

    His action ends a period of back-and-forthing in which Flinn first sought the Republican hierarchy's blessing and was spurned, then considered an independent run, then finally resolved to take on state Representative Larry Scroggs, one of the best-liked and best-respected people in local politics and the candidate who has the unmistakable stamp of approval from his party's leadership.

    Why would he do such a thing, and how does he think he can get away with it?

    His answer to the first question goes like this: "I've been a Memphian for over 50 years, and I've been watching things from the sidelines. It's really no secret that people don't think they're getting their money's worth from government. Most people don't hear the voice of leadership in the people who have so far announced for county mayor. That's why I'm stepping forth."

    And, as a political and governmental neophyte, his answer to the second question goes like this: "I've built a successful medical practice and successful radio and TV stations from the ground up. I've got the ability to lead and work with people. The fact is, I get into situations all the time where I don't know the facts to start with, but my medical training has prepared me to locate the root problems, make a diagnosis, and find a solution."

    As for Scroggs, who was the end result of a desperate search by the local Republican hierarchy to find a plausible and politically experienced candidate willing to run this year, Flinn says, "I've met Larry Scroggs twice, and I find him likable and sincere. I'm sure he knows government, especially at the state level, but the fact is, we need some fresh eyes."

    Flinn offered his own eyes -- and the rest of his somewhat Mr. Peeperish countenance -- to the Republicans last fall when preferred candidates like District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, former city councilman John Bobango, and ex-Memphis Redbirds president Allie Prescott all turned down entreaties to run.

    To his dismay, Flinn's offer of himself was not met with immediate acceptance from local Republican chairman Alan Crone, veteran GOP strategist John Ryder, or any of the other party eminences who were then leading the hunt for a candidate. As a newcomer, he was asked to consider making a race for state representative instead.

    Flinn simmered for a while, then went through a period of indecisiveness. Just before the New Year, he filed a petition to run in the Republican primary, thought better of it, withdrew the petition, and began a rethinking of his situation. For a while, he thought he might run as an independent but eventually decided that, to have even a theoretical chance of winning a countywide campaign, he needed the party infrastructure.

    Hence his filing this week. "I believe that a major party is the right vehicle to address the problems of Shelby County," he says, "and I'm a Republican by nature, a believer in getting the most out of government for the least expense." He adds, meaningfully, "But you can find the Old Guard in both parties, and I would appeal to Democrats and independents, too."

    Some Republicans may question that ecumenical streak. One of Flinn's potential handicaps as a Republican candidate is that his son Shea Flinn, now a freshly credentialed lawyer, ran as a Democratic candidate for the legislature only two years ago. "I don't see that as a problem," Flinn says. "People understand that different generations see the same things differently."

    A tendency to see things differently manifests itself in every aspect of George Flinn's career. A medical colleague who supports Scroggs talked last week of how Flinn's tendency not to "gel" with establishments led him first to start a radiology practice that, in effect, was in direct competition with hospital-based procedures and, later, to become an innovator in the science of ultrasound technology, an area in which he holds several lucrative patents.

    His patents and his practice have made Flinn wealthy (enough so to have helped establish the 38 broadcast stations he owns nationwide), and, ironically, he has certain advantages over his more orthodox -- and politically better-known -- GOP opponent. Flinn, who will hold conventional fund-raisers, starts the race with somewhere between $250,000 and half a million of his own money ready to go.

    Rep. Scroggs, who raised $100,000 recently, is prohibited by state law from active fund-raising while the legislature is in session. Differing measures to abolish such restrictions have passed both houses of the General Assembly but still await reconciliation in committee. Gamely, Scroggs, a conscientious legislator with committee responsibilities and bills under way, vows to keep a promise to serve through the current spring session.

    Flinn has used his money to engage a high-priced consultant, Tom Pardue of Atlanta, who helped Sen. Bill Frist win his first victory in 1994 against then-incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser. Businessman/pol Karl Schledwitz, who has been associated with Democrat Sasser for a quarter century, remembers Pardue bitterly as a "hatchet man," but Flinn promises to run a "highly positive" campaign.

    He'll have help locally from several out-of-the-loop Republicans -- one of whom, Dr. Phil Langsdon, is a former two-term GOP chairman who, moreover, came to power in 1991 as the champion of Republican have-nots versus the haves of that era.

    Langsdon, a facial plastic surgeon who disavows any political ambitions of his own (but was known to have been interested in running for Congress if Ed Bryant's 7th District seat had opened up this year) will serve as Flinn's campaign manager and professes excitement at the prospect. "He's got a fresh outlook and real ability," says Langsdon. "He's going to surprise the political hacks who doubt him."

    ™ The Flinn-Scroggs showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of Republican harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner.

    "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote."

    The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings.

    Of Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George brings some new people in and helps us expand the grassroots base of our party."

    POLITICAL NOTES

    POLITICAL NOTES

    Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    The Shelby County Republican Party's eminent Flinn-Scroggs mayoral showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of GOP harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of radiologist George Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by party eminence John Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as votng for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    Thursday, February 14, 2002

    FLINN'S IN (AGAIN)

    FLINN'S IN (AGAIN)

    Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    George Flinn, a radiologist and media magnate who has made a career of bucking various establishments and profiting thereby, is targeting yet another establishment -- that of the Shelby County Republican Party -- and expects, against all odds, to end up the winner again. Flinn, who based his thriving medical practice on confronting and challenging the city's medical establishment, will file a petition this Friday to run in the GOP primary for county mayor. His action ends a period of back-and-forthing in which Flinn first sought the Republican hierachy's blessing and was spurned, then considered an independent run, then finally resolved to take on State Representative Larry Scroggs, one of the best-liked and best-respected people in local politics and the candidate who has the unmistakeable stamp of approval from his party's leadership. Why would he do such a thing, and how does he think he can get away with it? His answer to the first question goes like this: "I've been a Memphian for over 50 years, and I'v been watching things from the sidelines. It's really no secret that people don't think they're getting their money's worth from government. Most people don't hear the voice of leadership in the people who have so far announced for county mayor. That's why I'm stepping forth." And, as a political and governmental neophyte, his answer to the second question goes like this: "I've built a successful medical practice and successful radio and tv stations from the ground up. I've got the ability to lead and work with people. The fact is, I get into situations all the time where I don't know the facts to start with, but my medical training has prepared me to locate the root problems, make a diagnosis, and find a solution." As for Scroggs, who was the end result of a desperate search by the local Republican hierarchy to find a plausible and politically experienced candidate willing to run this year, Flinn says, "I've met Larry Scroggs twice, and I find him likeable and sincere. I'm sure he knows government, especially at the state level, but the fact is, we need some fresh eyes." Flinn offered his own eyes -- and the rest of his somewhat Mr. Peeperish countenance -- to the Republicans last fall when preferred candidates like District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, former city councilman John Bobango, and ex-Memphis Redbirds president Allie Prescott all turned down entreaties to run. To his dismay, Flinn's offer of himself was not met with immediate acceptance from local Republican chairman Alan Crone, veteran GOP strategist John Ryder, or any of the other party eminences who were then leading the hunt for a candidate. As a newcomer, he was asked to consider making a race for state representative instead. Flinn simmered for a while, then went through a period of indecisiveness. Just before the New Year, he filed a petition to run in the Republican primary, thought better of it, withdrew the petition, and began a rethinking of his situation. For a while, he thought he might run as an independent but eventually decided that, to have even a theoretical chance of winning a countywide campaign, he needed the party infrastructure. Hence, his filing this week. "I believe that a major party is the right vehicle to address the problems of Shelby County," he says, 'and I'm a Republican by nature, a believer in getting the most out of government for the least expense. " He adds, meaningfully, "But you can find the Old Guard in both parties, and I would appeal to Democrats and independents, too." Some Republicans may question that ecumenical streak. One of Flinn's potential handicaps as a Republican candidate is that his son Shea Flinn, now a freshly credentialed lawyer, ran as a Democratic candidate for the legislature only two years ago. "I don't see that as a problem," Flinn says. "People understand that different generations see the same things differently." A tendency to see things differently manifests itself in every aspect of George Flinn's career. A medical colleague who supports Scroggs talked last week of how Flinn's tendency not to "gel" with establishments led him first to start a radiology practice that, in effect, was in direct competition with hospital-based procedures and, later, to become an innovator in the science of ultrasound technology, an area in which he holds several lucrative patents. His patents and his practice have made Flinn wealthy (enough so to have helped establish the 38 broadcast stations he owns nationwide), and , ironically, he has certain advantages over his more orthodox -- and politically better-known -- GOP opponent. Flinn, who will hold conventional fundraisers, starts the race with somewhere between $250,000 and half a million of his own money ready to go. (Rep. Scroggs, who raised $100,000 recently, is prohibited by state law from active fundraising while the legislature is in session. Differing measures to abolish such restrictions have passed both houses of the General Assembly but still await reconciliation in committee. Gamely, Scroggs, a conscientious legislator with committee responsibilities and bills under way, vows to keep a promise to serve through the current spring session.) Flinn has used his money to engage a high-priced consultant, Tom Pardue of Atlanta, who helped Sen. Bill Frist win his first victory in 1994 against then incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser. Businessman/pol Karl Schledwitz, who has been associated with Democrat Sasser for a quarter century, remembers Pardue bitterly as a "hatchetman," but Flinn promises to run a "highly positive" campaign. He'll have help locally from several out-of-the-loop Republicans -- one of whom, Dr. Phil Langsdon, is a former two-term GOP chairman who, moreover, came to power in 1991 as the champion of Republican have-nots versus the haves of that era. Langsdon, a facial plastic surgeon who disavows any political ambitions of his own (but was known to have been interested in running for Congress if Ed Bryant's 8th District seat had opened up this year) will serve as Flinn's campaign manager and professes excitement at the prospect. "He's got a fresh outlook and real ability," says Langsdon. "He's going to surprise the political hacks who doubt him."
  • The Flinn-Scroggs showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of Republican harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant< b>Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as voting for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2002

    FLINN'S IN (AGAIN)

    A successful eccentric tests the GOP's sudden turbulent water.

    Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    George Flinn, a radiologist and media magnate who has made a career of bucking various establishments and profiting thereby, is targeting yet another establishment -- that of the Shelby County Republican Party -- and expects, against all odds, to end up the winner again. Flinn, who based his thriving medical practice on confronting and challenging the city's medical establishment, will file a petition this Friday to run in the GOP primary for county mayor. His action ends a period of back-and-forthing in which Flinn first sought the Republican hierachy's blessing and was spurned, then considered an independent run, then finally resolved to take on State Representative Larry Scroggs, one of the best-liked and best-respected people in local politics and the candidate who has the unmistakeable stamp of approval from his party's leadership. Why would he do such a thing, and how does he think he can get away with it? His answer to the first question goes like this: "I've been a Memphian for over 50 years, and I'v been watching things from the sidelines. It's really no secret that people don't think they're getting their money's worth from government. Most people don't hear the voice of leadership in the people who have so far announced for county mayor. That's why I'm stepping forth." And, as a political and governmental neophyte, his answer to the second question goes like this: "I've built a successful medical practice and successful radio and tv stations from the ground up. I've got the ability to lead and work with people. The fact is, I get into situations all the time where I don't know the facts to start with, but my medical training has prepared me to locate the root problems, make a diagnosis, and find a solution." As for Scroggs, who was the end result of a desperate search by the local Republican hierarchy to find a plausible and politically experienced candidate willing to run this year, Flinn says, "I've met Larry Scroggs twice, and I find him likeable and sincere. I'm sure he knows government, especially at the state level, but the fact is, we need some fresh eyes." Flinn offered his own eyes -- and the rest of his somewhat Mr. Peeperish countenance -- to the Republicans last fall when preferred candidates like District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, former city councilman John Bobango, and ex-Memphis Redbirds president Allie Prescott all turned down entreaties to run. To his dismay, Flinn's offer of himself was not met with immediate acceptance from local Republican chairman Alan Crone, veteran GOP strategist John Ryder, or any of the other party eminences who were then leading the hunt for a candidate. As a newcomer, he was asked to consider making a race for state representative instead. Flinn simmered for a while, then went through a period of indecisiveness. Just before the New Year, he filed a petition to run in the Republican primary, thought better of it, withdrew the petition, and began a rethinking of his situation. For a while, he thought he might run as an independent but eventually decided that, to have even a theoretical chance of winning a countywide campaign, he needed the party infrastructure. Hence, his filing this week. "I believe that a major party is the right vehicle to address the problems of Shelby County," he says, 'and I'm a Republican by nature, a believer in getting the most out of government for the least expense. " He adds, meaningfully, "But you can find the Old Guard in both parties, and I would appeal to Democrats and independents, too." Some Republicans may question that ecumenical streak. One of Flinn's potential handicaps as a Republican candidate is that his son Shea Flinn, now a freshly credentialed lawyer, ran as a Democratic candidate for the legislature only two years ago. "I don't see that as a problem," Flinn says. "People understand that different generations see the same things differently." A tendency to see things differently manifests itself in every aspect of George Flinn's career. A medical colleague who supports Scroggs talked last week of how Flinn's tendency not to "gel" with establishments led him first to start a radiology practice that, in effect, was in direct competition with hospital-based procedures and, later, to become an innovator in the science of ultrasound technology, an area in which he holds several lucrative patents. His patents and his practice have made Flinn wealthy (enough so to have helped establish the 38 broadcast stations he owns nationwide), and , ironically, he has certain advantages over his more orthodox -- and politically better-known -- GOP opponent. Flinn, who will hold conventional fundraisers, starts the race with somewhere between $250,000 and half a million of his own money ready to go. (Rep. Scroggs, who raised $100,000 recently, is prohibited by state law from active fundraising while the legislature is in session. Differing measures to abolish such restrictions have passed both houses of the General Assembly but still await reconciliation in committee. Gamely, Scroggs, a conscientious legislator with committee responsibilities and bills under way, vows to keep a promise to serve through the current spring session.) Flinn has used his money to engage a high-priced consultant, Tom Pardue of Atlanta, who helped Sen. Bill Frist win his first victory in 1994 against then incumbent Sen. Jim Sasser. Businessman/pol Karl Schledwitz, who has been associated with Democrat Sasser for a quarter century, remembers Pardue bitterly as a "hatchetman," but Flinn promises to run a "highly positive" campaign. He'll have help locally from several out-of-the-loop Republicans -- one of whom, Dr. Phil Langsdon, is a former two-term GOP chairman who, moreover, came to power in 1991 as the champion of Republican have-nots versus the haves of that era. Langsdon, a facial plastic surgeon who disavows any political ambitions of his own (but was known to have been interested in running for Congress if Ed Bryant's 8th District seat had opened up this year) will serve as Flinn's campaign manager and professes excitement at the prospect. "He's got a fresh outlook and real ability," says Langsdon. "He's going to surprise the political hacks who doubt him."
  • The Flinn-Scroggs showdown is but one of several that have churned up in what were, just weeks ago, the untroubled waters of Republican harmony. Incumbent county mayor Jim Rout and, reportedly, other local GOP notables are now outspoken in their support of Republican gubernatorial challenger Jim Henry of Kingston, while a majority of the party's officials and activists still lean to 4th District congressman Van Hilleary, the presumed frontrunner. "That isn't necessary a bad thing," says chairman Crone. "A contested gubernatorial primary, concurrent with the August general election, will bring out a healthy Republican vote." The mayoral contest is a different matter. "We had hoped to organize our whole strategy around that race," concedes Crone, who makes no secret of the fact that he would have been delighted with an uncontested primary. Crone shrugs at what has now become inevitable, however, promises neutrality, and is actively in search of silver linings. Of Flinn's surprise candidacy, he says, "I'm hoping George barings some new people in and helps us expand the grass-roots base of our party. He'll certainly help to generate some interest." Crone professes to be untroubled as well about another recent development, the decision by Ryder, a stage-manager presence whom some had expected to head up Scroggs' campaign, to become a candidate in what is now a three-way primary race for the pivotal 5th District Shelby County Commission seat. Though Ryder has to be counted the favorite, the other two contenders, financial manager Bruce Thompson and contractor Jerry Cobb, aren't going anywhere. Thompson says he has $50,000 to spend on his race and will probably have as much later on, while Cobb can count on the suppot of a reliable network of fellow Republican dissidents. Moreover, the Scroggs campaign and the contywide Republican effort in general will suffer -- at least until the end of the primary period in early May -- from the mere fact that old pro Ryder will be wholly involved in his own electoral effort. The bottom line: in the suddenly roiling sea of Shelby County Republicanism, it's sink or swim.
  • Other Campaign Notes: Two proteges of GOP consultant< b>Lane Provine were predictably on-message in campaign openers last weekend. GOP sheriff's candidate Bobby Simmons, who reports more than $100,000 in campaign receipts, attacked corruption in the department , positioning himself as an outsider vis-a-vis Chief Deputy Don Wright but a seasoned hand in comparison with county Corrections director Mark Luttrell...County commission candidate Joyce Avery, who seeks to unseat Republican primary rival Clair VanderSchaaf, gigged him as voting for arena funds but against school funding and for approving any development "that's put before him."...Democratic mayoral candidate Harold Byrd attracted a large crowd to a women's luncheon Saturday and lashed out impressively at "Good Ole Boy" politics.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2002

    MEMPHIS SPORTS SCENE (IN PHILADELPHIA)

    MEMPHIS SPORTS SCENE (IN PHILADELPHIA)

    Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    The All-Star game shines like a beacon for ballers everywhere with hoop dreams and superstar aspirations. This evening’s game became a dream come true for one Philadelphia native, and something of a nightmare for another who currently calls the city home. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant poured in 31 points to lead the Western Conference squad to a 135-120 victory over the Eastern Conference. Bryant, who grew up in Philadelphia, received a round of boos as he held his All-Star 2002 MVP trophy high over his head. The Philadelphia crowd has good reason to dislike Bryant. His Lakers squad beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the league finals. Also, the 76ers Allen Iverson Ð last All-Star game’s MVP Ð scored only five points in the game. The poor performance must have been particularly stinging to Iverson playing in front of his home crowd wearing number six in honor of former 76ers great “Dr. J.” Julius Erving. Unfortunately, Iverson could only honor Erving in ideal and not in practice with his forgettable performance. Also for the Western Conference, Seattle’s Gary Payton scored 18 points, Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan each scored 14 points, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 points, Sacramento’s Peja Stojakovic scored 11 points, and Ð also for Minnesota Ð Wally Szczerbiak scored 10 points as well. Away from the hoop, Dallas’ Steve Nash tossed out nine assists, Duncan pulled down 14 rebounds, Garnett pulled down 12 rebounds, and L.A. Clipper Elton Brand collected 10 rebounds of his own. For the East, Orlando’s Tracy McGrady scored 24 points, Boston’s Paul Pierce scored 19 points, Milwaukee’s Ray Allen scored 15 points, and Miami’s Alonzo Mourning scored 13 points. Philadelphia’s Dikembe Mutombo pulled in 10 rebounds for his Eastern Conference squad. Interestingly (or pathetically), no Eastern Conference starter scored in double digits. The contest was fairly lackluster from the start, with multiple botched show-off attempts including a blundered dunk by the Wizard’s Michael Jordan himself. In addition, both teams combined for 30 turnovers, making for uneven, uninspiring play. To add to the All-Star blahs, the top two All-Star vote-getters did not even suit up. Both Toronto’s Vince Carter and Laker Shaquille O’Neal did not play due to injury. The less than entertaining action on the court better back-grounded the star-studded affair. Some of the celebrities in attendance included Britney Spears, boyfriend Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Samuel Jackson, Lil’ Bow-Wow, Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Nikki McCray, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Magic Johnson, and Jerry Rice, among others. Also, for the pre-game and half-time entertainments, fans heard the music of Elton John, Alicia Keyes, and Patti LaBelle. Check out the Flyer this week for a full write-up on this weekend’s events.

    Friday, February 8, 2002

    JEWELL DROPS OUT OF SHERIFF'S RACE

    JEWELL DROPS OUT OF SHERIFF'S RACE

    Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Mike Jewell, a field commander in the Sheriff’s Depatment and a Bartlett alderman who entered the sheriff’s race last year with virtually wall-to-wall support from Bartlett city officials, on Wednesday became the first major dropout from the race to succeed outgoing incumbent A.C.Gilless.

    Jewell indicated he will also eschew reelection this year and leave the Bartlett Board of Alderrmen after the completion of his current term on December 31st.

    “It’s just been too rough raising money,” Jewell said of his decision to drop her sheriff's race in mid-afternoon of a day which began with his waking to the aftermath of a snowstorm and drawing certain conclusions he suddenly saw as overdue.

    “I looked out the window and saw all that snow, and it just clicked,” Jewell said. “I said to myself, ‘You know, there’s no need dragging this thing out any further.’ It’s just one of those things that didn’t work out.”

    Jewell hinted that he might choose to intervene in the sheriff’s race at some later point with an endorsement but chose to keep his options to himself for the time being. “I will say this,” Jewell reflected. “I’ve talked to enough people to know that the public isn’t going to want to vote for anybody who’s in the department right now.”

    In effect, Jewell was disqualifying everybody except county Corrections administrator Mark Luttrell, running as a Republican, and city councilman E C Jones. a Democratic contender. Other candidates are Republicans Bobby Simmons, a captain who heads up the department’s DUI operations, and Chief Deputy Don Wright, .who carries the reputation, for better or for worse, of being Gilless’ right-hand man.; and Democrat Randy Wade, another ranking departmental chief.

    Given Jewell’s longtime activity in Republican ranks, including several years on the local GOP’s steering committee and a stint as party vice chairman, he is likely to come out at some point for Luttrell.

    Jewell preferred not to address the issue for the record on Wednesday , but he publicly expressed resentment some months ago that, shortly after announcing his candidacy, he was assigned to prisoner transport duties on a 2 p.m. to midnight shift which precluded much effective campaigning. His imputation then was that politics was at the root of his reassignment

    Having shed his candidate's mantle and decided also to leave the Board of Aldermen after this year, Jewell said one reason for both decisions was that he would now be able to concentrate on "my granddaughter, the Bible, and bluegrass music, all of which I love, even though, as far as the last thing goes, I may be the world's worst banjo-player."

    Thursday, February 7, 2002

    SO WHY DOES CHUMNEY STAY IN?

    SO WHY DOES CHUMNEY STAY IN?

    Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Though he likes to specialize in business and marketing research, Memphis pollster Berge Yacoubian has had his share of name political clients -- Bob Clement, Robin Beard, Mike Cody, Otis Higgs come to mind -- and if it seems to have worked out that he’s had more underdogs than not, that’s how he likes it. Republican Beard defied the odds and unseated a congressional incumbent in 1972, then was able to survive the Democratic landslide during the Watergate year of 1974. No longer advised by Yacoubian, he lost a Senate bid in 1982 against then incumbent Jim Sasser. Part of the problem, thinks Yacoubian, was that Beard overlooked issues in favor of negative attack ads that backfired. In fact, he sees part of his job as helping candidates prepare not only for election but for what comes next if all goes well. "Unlike other consultants, whom I will not name, I do not want to elect someone who can't govern," he says. Nor does he want his advisees to make nice, especially. "Some candidates want to be so loved they can't act ," he says disdainfully. Yacoubian says he prefers to leave the spotlight to his candidates, the most prominent of whom at the moment is State Representative Carol Chumney. Of all the candidates for mayor, Chumney is probably the most direct in pressing specific issues. And, despite being told frequently by friend and foe alike that she has little chance of being elected and should consider switching to another race while she can, Chumney resolutely declines to do so A look at a survey done by Yacoubian in October provides some insight into both these circumstances. The most overwhelmingly approved three issues noted by Yacoubian in a table entitled "What Voters Want" are: (1) the passage of "laws to toughen standards for daycare center operators" (92 percent of all potential voters sampled approving it; 89 percent of Democats); (2) "new funding system for public schools" (89 percent of all voters and 88 percent of Democrats): and (3) "support full consolidation" (78 percent of all voters, 81 percent of Democrats). Chumney, of course, is the principal sponsor of legislation to tighten daycare standards, and she has made frequent mention during her current campaign of the school funding issue while pushing consolidation relentlessly. If Yacoubian is correct, Chumney may not be risking as much by being explicit as her opponents are in responding more indirectly. In any case, Yacoubian says candidly, it's the best antidote to what he sees as a bandwagon strategy underway on A C Wharton's behalf. The poll, taken at that point last fall when Wharton was announcing his mayoral candidacy, reflects a sense that the Shelby County Public Defender ought indeed to be regarded as the frontrunner in Democratic ranks. In Yacoubian's reckoning, Wharton was first choice of Democrats polled -- by 37 percent to Chumney's 27 percent, 7 percent for State Senator Jim Kyle, who has since withdrawn from the face and endorsed Wharton; and 6 percent for Bartlett banker Harold Byrd. Interestingly, Byrd rises to a close second place among independents polled by Yacoubian, with 23 percent to Wharton's 25 percent. Chumney's figure was 18 percent, and Kyle's was 12 percent. Meanwhile, another aspect of Yacoubian's poll shows voter approval of previous job performance to be higher for Chumney than for any of her Democratic opponents. In short, Yacobian's poll figures suggest that Chumney may not be so out of it -- among Democrats, anyway -- as conventional wisdom has it, and they provide a basis for her seeing Byrd as a rival claimant to runnerup status and, therefore, as a nemesis to be taken on directly. In any case, Chumney did just that -- as recently as the weekend, when she called a press conference to protest the fact that Byrd was allowed to lease campaign headquarters on Poplar Avenue that she had been denied a lease for previously. The property's owner, Stanley 'Trip' Trezevant, who supports Byrd, responded by saying he saw no issue involved, but Chumney indicated she would begin a process, both locally and in Nashville, of instituting anti-discrimination complaints. Yacoubian's October poll seems to forecast a greater degree of participation by women than of men in this year's elections, and Chumney said Saturday she thought the figure for women would be as high as 65 percent -- yet another reason why she thinks her chances shouldn't be discounted (and a possible reason, too, for her pushing the discrimination hot-button). Granted, Chumney has raised relatively little money compared to opponents Wharton and Byrd, but she regards this as the consequence of her chances being discounted so consistently in public opinion -- the anecdotal kind, that is. She thinks the scientific species -- as in pulse-takings by Berge Yacoubian -- tell a different story.
    ADVERTISEMENT
    ADVERTISEMENT
    ADVERTISEMENT

    Most Commented On

    Top Viewed Stories

    ADVERTISEMENT

    © 1996-2015

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