"Gentlemen's Agreement" Ends as Commission Democrats Elect Matt Kuhn 

It took eight ballots and a good deal of to-in and fro-ing at the margins, but, in the end, a long-lived bipartisan precedent for filling vacancies died a death of attrition Monday, when the Shelby County Commission voted along party lines to give the commission seat surrendered by state treasurer David Lillard, a Republican, to Democrat Matt Kuhn.

For seven ballots, neither Kuhn nor his major Republican opponent, former commissioner Tommy Hart, were able to get the magic seventh and deciding vote, but, when Republican holdouts for Hart failed to take advantage of Democratic erosion in favor of Linda Kerley, the former GOP mayor of Collierville, Kuhn’s forces coalesced again and won votes from two Democrats – Joe Ford, who had been voting for Hart , and J.W. Gibson, who had been passing since a first-round vote for Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon.

Thus perished a precedent that had held in filling vacancies of various kinds since the early ‘90s, when commission elections first became partisan. There was no disputing that District 4, the seat vacated by Lillard, was predominantly Republican, but it will now be held by Kuhn, son of the present county attorney and a former Democratic Party chairman.

Democrats, on and off the commission stage, permitted themselves a spell of rejoicing that ranged from jubilant to tentative to downright nervous, while the reactions of Republicans on the commission and elsewhere seemed to fluctuate between anger, resignation, and simple regret.

This was the second major disappointment for Republicans, coming on top of the recent election of a maverick Republican, Kent Williams, as Speaker of the Tennessee House, on the strength of his own vote and that of House Democrats.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

More by Jackson Baker

Top Viewed Stories

ADVERTISEMENT

Flyer Flashback

Looking Back at Flyer Story About a "Religious Freedom" Protest in Mississippi.

To celebrate the Flyer's 25th year, we're looking back on stories from past issues.

Read Story

Site Search

From the Archives

  • Delayed Verdict

    With Ford and Roland both out for now, the County Commission hedges on a District 29 senator.
    • Feb 1, 2009
  • GOP's Mumpower Overpowered by Democratic Coup; Williams is New House Speaker

    In a surprise move that trumped even the unexpected 2007 vote by former Democratic state Senator Rosalind Kurita to seat Republican Ron Ramsey as Speaker of the Senate, the Democrats of the state House on Tuesday leagued with Republican Kent Williams of Elizabethton to overturn the GOP's expectations of voting in majority leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol as House Speaker ...
    • Jan 13, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

© 1996-2014

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Memphis Business Quarterly
Powered by Foundation