District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, after giving the matter careful consideration over the weekend, announced at a 2 p.m. press conference Monday that he would not be a candidate for Shelby County Mayor. Simply put, Gibbons said, I prefer being district attorney to being county mayor.
Gibbons decision puts the ball in the court of lawyer John Bobango, a former city councilman, as far as the Republican Party is concerned. For some time Bobangos interest in the position has seemed more intense than Gibbons. The two had long made it clear that whichever one of them decided to run would have the support of the other, and Gibbons gave Bobango his explicit endorsement Monday.
In private conversations during the several weeks that preceded his moment of decision, Gibbons had made it clear that he had doubts about the job of county mayor as one he felt strongly enough about to seek it or even as one that might serve as a stepping-stone to higher office. And his commitment to the unfinished business of his current office seemed genuine.
In his statement Monday, Gibbons touted achievements in problem areas ranging from gang violence to drug-traffic control to child abuse, but he said, Crime remains far too high. This is not the time for me to walk away from this job.
Gibbons said "from day one I have been somewhat reluctant" about running for county mayor. He said the job of city mayor actually appeals to him more. The question he faced: "What obligation do I have to seek an office I'm not excited about holding?"
None, he concluded, becoming the second person, along with Jim Rout, to conclude that there are better things to do than be county mayor. It
is questionable, of course whether Gibbons could have won the nomination or the general election next year. He promptly endorsed his friend and
fellow Republican Bobango.
"John Bobango would make a great mayor," he said.
Gibbons, a frequent analyst of local elections past for various television stations, said he foresees a "divisive, expensive Democratic primary" and a united Republican Party behind Bobango.
"For parts of the Democratic Party, the stakes are high and I think it is going to get rough," he said.
Meanwhile, pending the decision by Bobango or someone else, the county's Republicans have so far not produced a high-profile mayoral candidate, while the Democrats have yielded up several: State Represenative Carol Chumney, State Senator Jim Kyle, Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, and Shelby County Public Defender A C Wharton.