Thursday, November 15, 2001



Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 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 commission’s Budget Committee Wednesday, led to immediate speculation that Hart intends running instead for Shelby County mayor. Hart, a Collierville Republican with a pronounced interest in fiscal issues, has consistently indicated an interest in the mayor’s race, but the public spotlight has generally been on other high-profile GOP possibilities-- 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 “95 percent certain he would seek reelection” 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. Yet another name that has gone around in Republican circles in recent days is that of former Memphis Redbirds general manager Allie Prescott, who has so far been non-committal. City councilman Jack Sammons expressed the possibility last week, at the time of Norris' withdrawal of his name from consideration, that the Republican Party (which only eight years ago totally dominated countywide elections, incidentally) may not furnish a mayoral candidate at all for next year's election. (Sammons, the local GOP's treasurer, had demurred on running himself.) That is still unlikely, but the list of unusual suspects has almost been exhausted; any new lists of Republican hopefuls will grow progressively more unusual.

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