As the four major mayoral campaigns headed into the race’s last day, there was no doubt which candidate was exuding the most confidence about Thursday’s final outcome.
City Councilman Jim Strickland was the beneficiary of one last fundraiser Tuesday night on a Front St. rooftop, sponsored by Bank of Bartlett president Harold Byrd and a host of others, and the talk, on Strickland’s part, as well as others, was all about what they saw as a virtually tectonic shift of voter sentiment Strickland’s way.
It was already a given that Strickland would command the lion’s share of the city’s white vote. What he and others present at Tuesday night’s affair were talking about was a late surge of black votes toward the Councilman. “He’ll get 20 percent,” said an aide. Asked about it, a confident-looking Strickland confirmed there was that possibility.
Asked what he wanted to say about incumbent Mayor A C Wharton’s late tribulations regarding the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t P.R. contract of his campaign manager, Deidre Malone, with the company whose body cameras were selected by the city for use by Memphis police, Strickland shrugged and said, “I don’t really need to say anything.”
The now canceled Malone contract, widely considered a conflict-of-interest situation, was a crucial late embarrassment for the Mayor in his reelection campaign, and, from Strickland’s point of view, was the gift that kept on giving — yielding such further dividends as an eyebrow-raising call-in by the Mayor to radio host Ben Ferguson in an attempt to defend his position.
What would he doing with this last-minute money, Strickland was asked. “The same thing we’ve been doing every day,” he answered. “Fueling our phone bank, calling, calling, calling, getting our signs out, standing on street corners, keeping our broadcast spots going. Anything and everything.”