Herenton has not formally filed for reelection, but he has said several times that he will be a candidate for a fifth consecutive term in the October 4th mayoral election. In the past week he has accused business leaders of trying to oust him and attorney Richard Fields of trying to embarrass him by cooking up a sex plot.
Herenton was scheduled to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon.
In the reporting period covering January through April, Herenton raised only $1,650, bringing his campaign war chest to $502,958. In the last half of 2006, Herenton raised $39,562, with much of it coming from fundraisers in Detroit and Atlanta.
Thats a lot more than challenger City Councilman Carol Chumney, who is leading Herenton in some polls but had only $18,325 in her campaign fund as of April 1st, according to her most recent report filed with the Shelby County Election Commission. Herman Morris, the former head of Memphis Light Gas & Water, has also filed papers to run for mayor but he has not yet had to file any reports. Other candidates have until July 19th to file qualifying papers.
Herenton, of course, could still raise a lot of money in the next four months. But the small amount of contributions could also indicate Herenton fatigue. In 2003, Herenton raised $361,180 before the election in which he trounced John Willingham. And in 1999, running against Joe Ford and several others, Herenton raised $313,000 and spent $825,000 to win his third term with 46 percent of the vote.
Herentons campaign treasurer is Stephanie Dowell, a former Herenton mayoral aide who is now CEO of UAHC Health Plan, the Tennessee subsidiary of United American Health Care. UAHC is the Detroit-based company that paid former senator John Ford hundreds of thousands of dollars for consulting services. The health care management company gets most of its business from low-income Medicare clients in Memphis.
Fields said Thursday that he would respond soon to Gwendolyn D. Smith, a former client who accused him of hatching a plan to blackmail Herenton. He said he no longer felt bound by the attorney-client privilege in light of Smiths front-page accusations in The Commercial Appeal.
On Thursday Smith delivered a letter including her accusations to the office of Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. He was out of town, however, and an assistant said he would not comment on it until he returns and reads it.