The rhetoric of campaign meet-and-greets and fundraisers runs the gamut of possibilities — from thank-yous, both perfunctory and elaborate, to introduction of prominent guests to lengthy recitations of accomplishments to partisan exhortations to appeals across party lines. And anything and everything besides.
Once in a while you get something different, as was the case last Tuesday night at Cozymel’s Restaurant in East Memphis, when Probate Court clerk candidate Danny Kail hosted a largish crowd that filled two meeting rooms and comprised people from several of Kail’s past lives — labor representative, county employee, and political activist, among them.
Kail, whose main opposition in the Democratic primary would seem to be Clay Perry (currently an administrative assistant to the Shelby County Commission, with several career stops of his own to draw upon) transcended himself, with a brief oration that was part barn-burner and part job-definer.
He began by castigating unidentified predecessors whose concept of the job was to “see the same old 30 lawyers every day” and then go home to the suburbs and forget about everybody, Kail boasted the number of seminars on probate matters he already gives and plans, if elected, to accelerate in various parts of the community on behalf of “working-class people,” people who without good advice will expire “with their finances in a shambles.”
In Kail’s audience was the newly appointed Trustee Regina Morrison Newman, running for reelection in the May 4 Democratic primary. Like assorted other candidates — including most successful ones — Newman finds herself out and about almost every evening of an election season.
When she turned up at a Germantown Democratic Club event Wednesday night that featured county mayoral candidate Deidre Malone, Newman got a couple of minutes’ speaking time herself and began by scanning the crowd and noting the presence of “people I’ve seen every night this week.”
Newman, who is opposed in the Democratic primary by veteran candidate M. LaTroy Williams, had been featured, along with current Assessor Cheyenne Johnson, at a meeting of the League of Women Voters earlier in the week, and she’d held her own well-attended meet-and-greet fundraiser last Thursday night at La Pavillon Restaurant in East Memphis.
“I’m up against a family name, and I think he’s a good guy,” was Malone’s way of accounting for Ford. “Otis, that’s another story,” she said about Jackson and went on to maintain that Jackson had pledged her his support for mayor before making his surprise announcement of his own mayoral candidacy last Thursday, the filing deadline.
Earlier Wednesday, veteran political figure Reginald French opened his campaign for Sheriff at the historic Four Way Grill at Mississippi Boulevard and Walker. French, whose main Democratic primary opponent is Randy Wade, currently 9th District congressman Steve Cohen’s district director, professed optimism about the election.
After being serenaded by supporters who chanted “Now is the Time,” French promised “a new era of leadership,” reduction of repeat offenders, school safety, and a concerted effort to minimize and control gang activity. “We will work hard, and we will win this primary on May 4th. Failure is not an option,” French said.