Cadres of the Shelby County Democratic Party conducted their first sampling of opinion Tuesday night regarding the person who will lead their local party for the next couple of years as chairman.
In a well-attended straw poll at the Red Bar on Florence at Overton Square, Bryan Carson, a unit supervisor at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, finished ahead of a three-man field that also included marketing specialist Terry Spicer and Jennings Bernard, a probation entrepreneur and sometime broadcaster.
No vote totals were released, but that was the order of finish when some 400-odd ballots were counted. At $10 a throw, that netted the Shelby County Democratic Party some $4,000 — “enough to pay for our convention,” jested Dave Cambron, one of the officiating party officials.
The evening did not go without an element of controversy. Two busloads of students from Whitehaven arrived at the venue with the intention of supporting Spicer’s candidacy, but most of them were under-age and were told by the bar’s management that they could not remain on the facilities for the event.
Word came later that the students were welcome to enter during a period of speechmaking by the three candidates, but by then the chaperone who had come with them had ordered the buses to return to Whitehaven.
Ballots for perhaps 25 of the 1090-or-so students had meanwhile been paid for by Spicer, who said afterward, “I probably would have won if they’d all been allowed to stay. Most of them wanted to stay and pay for their own ballots.”
The county’s Democrats will begin voting for real on March 16, when they caucus at Airways Middle School to select delegates. The party convention itself will be held at the same venue on April 6.