Sunday, July 7, 2019

Lee Harris Endorses Council Candidate Davin Clemons

County Mayor’s intervention in city election seen as escalation of battle with Fords.

Posted By on Sun, Jul 7, 2019 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge Endorsee Davin Clemons and Mayor Harris
  • Endorsee Davin Clemons and Mayor Harris
In a move that had been rumored for weeks, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has intervened directly in the Memphis city election, announcing on Sunday his endorsement of Davin Clemons, Memphis City Council candidate in District 6.

The move can be — and no doubt will be — interpreted as an escalation of the already festering feud between Harris and Commissioner Edmund Ford Jr., whose father, Edmond Ford Sr., is making an election bid to recover the District 6 seat he once possessed.

Harris and the younger Ford have had heated exchanges of late, with Ford assailing the mayor publicly during commission meetings and with Harris apparently appearing to Ford to have taunted the extended Ford family during a recent appearance on local television.

In an interview with Richard Ransom of WATN, Channel 24, Harris jokingly blamed his troubles with Commissioner Ford on his previous electoral wins over two Ford family members

Ford took Harris to task for the TV remarks, telling the mayor at the June 24 commission meeting: "Don't use any member of my family as backup when you don't have answers. I can't respect you." At an earlier meeting, Ford had done the taunting, accusing Harris of looking beyond his mayoral duties to a projected future congressional race.

In his endorsement of Clemons, Harris may also be engaging in some political outreach. Clemons, a police officer who doubles as a minister, is openly gay and has served as the MPD’s official liaison with the LGBTQ community, encountering controversy here and there.

Clemons once filed a suit against the city for what he said was the department’s discrimination against him on the job, based on his sexual orientation and religion. The suit was resolved via a settlement between the parties.

Technically, the endorsement was not by Harris per se but by the Tennessee Voter Project, which Harris founded. The endorsement statement reads as follows:

Dear Friend,
The Tennessee Voter Project (TVP) invests in candidates who directly engage voters and who promise to expand voter access if elected.
Today, we are proud to endorse Davin Clemmons for Memphis City Council District 6.
It feels like Davin has been in service to this community his entire life. He is a minister, a police officer, a community organizer, and he is homegrown. Davin is a graduate of LeMoyne Owen College and his roots run deep in South Memphis. He is running an aggressive campaign in the same City Council district where he grew up. Because of his stances and proven record of accomplishment, supporting Davin is an easy call. That is why we are endorsing him in this campaign and that is why TVP has already contributed $500.

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