"I'm not stupid. The people made their wishes known, and I have responded." So said state senator Roscoe Dixon two weekends ago, appearing at a forum alongside incumbent General Sessions clerk Chris Turner, the Republican whom Democrat Dixon is challenging this year.
Dixon's "response" was on the issue of whether he would opt to remain in the Senate if victorious. He won't, he said emphatically at the forum, held by the Dutch Treat Luncheon group at the Piccadilly Restaurant in East Memphis. Dixon thereby reversed his position of four years ago during a previous challenge to Turner when, as he now concedes, he "waffled" on the issue.
"The people want you to do one job and do it right," Dixon now says, and he makes that change of mind known at every campaign opportunity.
The exchange between Dixon and Turner was civil and, for the most part, routine -- with Turner citing what he said were cost-cutting efficiencies he has effected in office and Dixon proposing innovations like that of a downtown night court like Nashville's.
• Something of an odd couple at a weekend event were Turner and incumbent Shelby County assessor Rita Clark, a Democrat. Both were attendees at Shelby County trustee Bob Patterson's annual barbecue at Kirby Farms and spent much of their time there in conversation with each other.
Though this was merely an instance of two local-government colleagues maintaining cordial relations, the presence at the affair of Clark, who is opposed by Republican Harold Sterling, also underscored her determination to practice an outreach to GOP voters similar to that which she accomplished with black Democratic voters during her successful primary campaign against county commissioner Michael Hooks.
Both Patterson's annual outing and Kirby Farms itself are traditional venues for Shelby County Republicans.
• The GOP primary contest for state representative in District 83, the seat being vacated by longtime incumbent Joe Kent, promises to be something of a free-for-all. The favorite -- via good financing and name recognition gained in a previous race against Kent -- is probably Chuck Bates, but four other Republican candidates possess respectable credentials of one sort or another, and all four -- Pat Collins, Brian Kelsey, Charles McDonald, and Stan Peppenhorst -- showed up for the Patterson barbecue.
Kelsey and White will be returning to Kirby Farms -- this and next Thursday night, respectively -- for campaign affairs of their own.
Though District 83 is regarded as a safe Republican district, there is a Democratic candidate as well, Julian Prewitt. Both major parties this year made decisions at the state-committee level to offer opposition wherever possible, even in districts where success seemed highly problematic.
• An arguable case of the latter involves the challenge in District 89 of Republican Jim Jamieson to Democratic incumbent Beverly Marrero -- though, arguably and ironically, Jamieson may possess more name identification on the strength of two prior races than does Marrero, who beat Jeff Sullivan in a special election primary last December that was notable as much for its scant turnout as for a disproportionate bitterness.
Jamieson, who ran previously against longtime incumbent Carol Chumney, now a city council member, is counting on potential fallout among Democrats from last year's contest. He balances conservative economic positions with moderate social ones -- a mix that is potentially saleable in this Midtown district.
But Marrero, a protÇgÇ of state senator Steve Cohen and a longtime activist in her own right, has made new party connections and solidified existing ones since last year's race. Moreover, she inherits a tradition of female representation that began with Chumney's predecessor, Pam Gaia. And the district is definitely inclined toward Democrats.
He wishes (And Best Wishes)
At last month's Gridiron Show at the Al Chymia Shrine Temple on Shelby Oaks, city councilman Brent Taylor made an unscheduled appearance onstage during a skit. He hung a pair of boxing gloves around the neck of the actor playing Mayor Willie Herenton, then draped a pillowcase over the face of the actress playing council mate Carol Chumney and escorted her offstage.
It remains to be seen how completely life imitates art, but for what it's worth, when Taylor showed up late for an appearance by His Honor during a council committee meeting this week, he apologized thusly: "Sorry, Mayor, I thought you said meet you outside." Yeah, you remember!