Wednesday, November 14, 2001



Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2001 at 4:00 AM

The decision of Shelby County Commission member Tommy Hart not to seek reelection, announced to colleagues at a meeting of the commissionÕs Budget Committee Wednesday, led to immediate speculation that Hart intends running instead for Shelby County mayor. Hart, a Collierville Republican wth a pronounced interest in fiscal issues, has consistently indicated an interest in the mayorÕs race, but the public spotlight has generally been on other high-profile GOP possibilibities Ð District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, former Memphis councilman John Bobango, State Senator (and former commissioner) Mark Norris, Probate Court Clerk Chris Thomas, County Trustee Bob Patterson, among them. All have renounced an interest by now except Patterson, who said this week he was Ò95 percent certain he would seek reelectionÓ but would speak about the race with outgoing GOP mayor Jim Rout and Shelby County Republican chairman Alan Crone. Contacted later Wednesday, Hart attributed his desire to leave the commission to the wish (often expressed at such times) to spend more time on this business and with his family. But, although he said he was not actively planning a race for mayor, he declined to rule one out. And he said, "I'm concerned that some of the people running or thinking of running have no background in county government. I think it's important that a county mayor should be informed about county problems." George Flinn, the radiologist and Memphis media baron (he owns several high-profile radio stations based in the city)who thought long and hard about a race for Memphis mayor in 1999 said Wednesday that he was "very seriously" considering a run for county mayor. Flinn's name had surfaced after county Republicans let it be known they were hoping to influence local businessmen to run under the party label.

Friday, November 9, 2001



Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2001 at 4:00 AM

In a virtually unprecedented action, U.S. Rep. John Tanner (D-8th) will endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen of Nashville at Memphis' Rendezvous restaurant Saturday morning, the Flyer has learned.

An endorsement by a sitting Democratic congressman of one candidate among many in a Democratic primary -- especially when that primary has for all practical purposes not really begun -- is unusual, and it reflects the obvious desire among some state Democrats that the party unite behind a single gubernatorial candidate as soon as possible.

Besides Bredesen, a former Nashville mayor and the party's 1994 standard-bearer, there are three other Democrats in the field. They are: Knoxville District Attorney Randy Nichols; former state Education Commissioner and ex-Board of Regents chancellor Charles Smith; and former state senator Andy Womack of Murfreesboro.

The Republican field for governor includes 4th District U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary and former state representative Jim Henry of Kingston.

Saturday, November 3, 2001

Bobango Says 'No Go'

Norris may be Republicans' ultimate entry.

Posted By on Sat, Nov 3, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Climaxing a week of rumors that John Bobango would follow the lead of District Attorney General Bill Gibbons and remove himself from consideration as a potential Shelby County Mayor, the former city councilman did just that Saturday morning.

Bobango’s statement, dispatched via passalong email,is as follows:

“Dear Fellow Republican,

"During the last several weeks, I have seriously considered running for County Mayor. My family and friends know I have a passion for public service and this community. However, I do not want my desire to serve the public to negatively impact those around me. After reviewing all the facts, I feel there would be an adverse impact, and therefore, I have chosen to not enter the race. My final decision was based on my responsibilities and obligations to my family, the law firm and its clients.

"I deeply appreciate all the prayers and encouragement I have received, especially over the last several days.


John Bobango."

Bobango’s dropout leaves the way open, among Republicans, for State Senator Mark Norris, who, as theFlyer first reported, is seriously considering a run.

Norris is fatalistic about the prospect that the legislature’s majority Democrats will reapportion the Senate so that Shelby County, which is losing a seat, will have one majority-Republican district including both himself and long-term incumbent Curtis Person.

Person, a respected veteran who has not even had an opponent since 1966, is regarded as unbeatable.

Moreover, Norris, a former Shelby County commissioner, has genuine concerns about the county’s future, especially on the fiscal front. Regarded as being on the right edge of his party economically, Norris has people skills that allow him to operate in the center. Even so, should he follow through and run, he may start from a position somewhat further back than Bobango or Gibbons would have.

As the week began, there were those who assumed that Bobango would hasten to announce his candidacy; as it progressed, talk at political gatherings focused on the fact that he was developing cold feet, especially as he considered the impact upon the race of Shelby County Public Defender A C Wharton, a recent Democratic entry who has good support from Republicans, too, and across racial lines. Partisans of another Democratic candidate, Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, maintain that he, too, has broad-based support.

As one Democrat put it Saturday, “They [the Republicans] are scared. They’re down to their fourth string now.” As he spelled it out, incumbent Mayor Jim Rout, who has decided not to run, was the first string; Gibbons was the second; and Bobango was the third.

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