Although the budget problems of city and county have managed to preoccupy most local observers of government and politics, the Memphis city election of 2011 is just around the corner, and partisans of the two political parties are already looking ahead to the 2012 election cycle.
One of the key races on next year’s calendar will be that for District Attorney General, with Amy Weirich, who inherited the job from former D.A. Bill Gibbons when Gibbons went to Nashville as state Safety Commissioner, as the Republican standard-bearer. Democratic strategists are looking at two possible opponents for Weirich — Glen Wright, who ran unsuccessfuly for a judicial position in the 2010 county general election, and Carol Chumney, the former state representative and City Council member who ran for Shelby County mayor in 2002 and for Memphis mayor in 2007 and 2009.
While Chumney ran a respectable and relatively close second to former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton in the three-way mayoral race of 2007 (current city attorney Herman Morris being the third candidate), she finished back in the pack in the 2009 race won by current mayor A C Wharton. It was an ill-advised race in which Chumney, matched against the popular Wharton and a crowded field of other candidates, lacked the resources and support she had enjoyed against Herenton.
After a spell last year of keeping her image current by speaking up at public meetings on topical subjects, Chumney has been keeping a low profile, working on her law practice and other private pursuits. She retains a good deal of name recognition, however, and she has expressed an interest in running for D.A. — a position which, arguably, calls on the same relentless intensity she displayed as a would-be muckraker on the Council and one for which collegiality, Chumney’s vulnerable point as a Council member, is conspicuously less important.
Indeed, if Chumney is comeback-minded, it is hard to imagine a better opportunity.
Weirich, though, seems to be settling into her job, and she's picking up the rate of her public exposure, making a number of speeches and other public appearances. One of her main emphases is on the need for cooperation between the interlocking units of local law enforcement.