Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Harris Ends Period of Lengthy Deliberation, Will Run for County Mayor

University of Memphis law professor will leave perch in state Senate, make try for third successive public office; had pondered, along with University law colleague Steve Mulroy, question of which of them would run.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 4:40 PM

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The coin flip is a done deal, as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s heads-up for State Senator Lee Harris, who had been functioning for several weeks as part of a mutually supportive duo (Alphonse-Gaston act, is another way to put it) with fellow University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy as to which of them would seek the Democratic nomination for Shelby County Mayor.

Harris announced his candidacy via email Wednesday, more or less in the same time frame as his participation at the UM Law School in a forum on what to do about the controversial Confederate-statue issue. (Harris has been aggressive in his calls for removal of the downtown monuments to General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Confederate president Jefferson Davis.)

As recently as Saturday night, in a late-night chat after attending a showing at Theater Memphis of the play “12 Angry Jurors,” featuring his close friend Mulroy, Harris professed to be undecided about running but was clearly leaning that way.

He has run for several offices in rapid succesion, the City Council in 2011 and the state Senate (where he served as Leader of the 5-member Democreatic contingent) in 2014, while seriously considering a Congressional race against 9th District U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in 2016 before dropping the idea.

He made a point, during the aforementioned weekend conversation, of distinguishing himself from politicians who seek particular offices for particular purposes. “I’ll serve wherever I can,” he said.

Right now, he hopes that will be the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, starting in the late fall of 2018.

Harris’ announcement statement is as follows:

For Immediate Release


Memphis, TN – Today, Lee Harris announced his campaign for county mayor: “I am running because I believe we can make our community a place where our kids want to stay, and a place where the best and brightest want to move. On the campaign trail, I plan to force a real conversation about creating more meaningful opportunities for our students and reducing poverty. It’ll be one of the first times that this has happened in this community.” Harris continued, “Despite the division in Washington, I really believe it’s time for all parts of our community to come together, time for the next generation of leaders to take the reins, and time for our community to start growing.”

About State Senator Lee Harris

In 2014, Lee Harris was elected to the State Senate, becoming the youngest senator in the state of Tennessee. Democratic senators selected him as Senate Minority Leader, making him the first African American Leader in the state of Tennessee. Prior to the 2014 election, Harris served on the Memphis City Council. Senator Harris is also a tenured full professor of law at the University of Memphis Law School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse and his law degree from Yale. Senator Harris is a proud product of our public schools. Senator Harris is married to Prof. Alena Allen. They have two children, Lee Allen Harris (12) and Claudia Harris (9), both of whom are public school students.

The press release concluded with the unusual flourish of a list of five supporters, who might be contacted about Harris, more or less in the manner of a job application.

Three well-known Republican figures -- County Trustee David Lenoir, Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, and Juvenile Court Clerk Joy Touliator are vying for the GOP mayoral nomination.

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