In an effort to jump-start the campaign of Carol Chumney , Democratic nominee for District Attorney General, she and local Democratic chairman Van Turner held a joint press conference Thursday at the party’s new “resource center” on Poplar Avenue. As the chairman noted, it was the first press conference to be held there since the headquarters opened earlier this month.
Turner kicked things off by stating, “We called this press conference to sort of clear up some things that were recently said,” referencing a recent opinion column in the Commercial Appeal by Otis Sanford questioning both’s Chumney level of campaigning and the party’s commitment to her candidacy.
As Sanford had noted, Chumney’s Republican opponent, incumbent D.A. Amy Weirich, has raised a considerable campaign warchest and has been highly active on the stump, whereas Chumney had so far been less visible and has lagged far behind in fundraising.
Turner thereupon issued an unequivocal statement of support for Chumney, extolling her “25 years of legal experience,” such credentials as her having bee editor-in-chief of the University of Memp his Law Review, and her “17 years of public experience” as state legislator and City Council member.
As she herself would do, Turner noted Chumney’s longtime chairmanship of the legislative Children and Family Affairs Committee and said that experience was good preparation for dealing with the shortcomings in the operation of Juvenile Court that were recently publicized in a U.S. Department of Justice report.
Asked to what extent she held General Weirich responsible for Juvenile Court’s problems, including administrative foul-ups and alleged “race-based” procedures, Chumney noted that the DOJ study, requested by Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, was commissioned in 2007 and documented problems “that were still there in 2010 and 2011.” Weirich was an assistant D.A. for years before being named to the top job in early 2011.
In addition to the usefulness of her experience with the Children and Family Affairs Committee, Chumney said she would also profit as D.A. from having enjoyed a good working relationship with current Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person when both were in the legislature. In the DOJ report Person was credited with having initiated some reforms in the Court’s processes.
Chumney acknowledged that she would probably be unable to match Weirich’s campaqign expenditures butr said, “I have devorted my life to public service. I think that the people who have voted for me in the past will show up again. I am not soliciting special interest money.”
Unspoken to by either Turner or Chumney was the fact that several prominent Democrats, including City Council members Jim Strickland and Shea Flinn, businessman Karl Schledwitz, and lawyer/lobbyist John Farris are declared supporters of Weirich. Strickland and Farris are both former Democratic chairs. Schledwitz said this week he made his commitment to Weirich at a time when she was the only active candidate.