Saturday, January 26, 2002



Posted By on Sat, Jan 26, 2002 at 4:00 AM

County mayoral candidate A C Wharton picked up a key endorsement Friday morning, from State Senator Jim Kyle, who got on the bandwagon with his three Democratic colleagues in the Senate -- Steve Cohen, Roscoe Dixon, and John Ford -- at a press conference choreographed to suggest a united front and irresistible momentum for the Shelby County Public Defender, last Democrat to enter the mayor's race.

(Ford and Dixon, who had previously made their preferences known, were absent from the press conference; Cohen was present.)

Kyle, who had been the first to announce his interest in running for mayor early last year and the first (and so far the only) candidate to withdraw, had been talking privately for some time about what he saw as Wharton's good chances for election. Thursday he described Wharton as "better" than other "good" candidates.

The two recipients of this left-handed compliment were State Representative Carol Chumney and Bartlett banker Harold Byrd. Byrd mused out loud Friday about what he saw as the less-than-coincidental timing of the Kyle announcement, on the eve of the opening of his campaign headquarters at 3183 Poplar Ave. (scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday).

He may have a point. For roughly a month, rumors have circulated to the effect that Byrd was on the verge of dropping out of the mayor's race before the final withdrawal date next month. "Not a chance," said Byrd, who said he was in for the long haul and suggested that the reports had been planted by the Wharton campaign to try to stampede Democratic voters -- and financial supporters -- in the Public Defender's direction.



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