Sunday, September 30, 2007

Heeeeeeeeee's Baaaaaack

I know they say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but Ford Sr. and Herenton together again is beyond strange.

During the 2006 campaign, Ford. Sr. returned to Memphis in an effort to get Harold Ford, Jr. elected to the Senate and Jake elected to the House. Obviously, his plans did not work.

When Herenton endorsed Cohen, the already existing tension between the Herenton camp and the Ford camp escalated, and when both Fords lost, several people felt that Ford, Sr.'s influence was less effective than it had been in previous election years. Part of the reason is that Ford Sr. has moved to Florida, and his base has moved - both physically and symbolically.

So, how desperate is Mayor Herenton that he would try to bring back the magic from his first election? Today's Commerical Appeal reports that the race is too close to call.

I was telling someone at lunch today that it was kind of exciting to be this close to election day and not know who was going to win. All of the candidates have plenty of time to either secure the win or blow their chances, and it will be interesting to watch how they all react to the pressure.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Winnie the Pooh Says Vote for Pearce...

The most interesting part of working a poll during elections is getting to meet the friends and family of candidates who are out campaigning for their loved ones. They’re normally new to politics, and they can say the darnedest things.

Yesterday, I was working White Station Church of Christ at the same time as the father of Pearce in District 2. The guy was going up to voters and saying that they had the Christian Coalition endorsement and that Stephens had the Planned Parenthood endorsement. Both of those are unlikely, considering those groups don’t endorse in local elections. After the Stephen’s campaign and he “exchanged words” Pearce was quite miffed and kept complaining to me and a couple of others about how badly he was treated. When asked why he thought they had those endorsements he said “I just made it up. I was just talking.” He also seemed to be under the amusing impression that abortion is the biggest issue in this campaign, making me wonder what exactly is going on in those side rooms I haven’t been in at city hall.

With that in mind:

Desi Franklin has the endorsement of Concerned Puppies of America.

Bill Morrison has the support of wildflowers, sunsets, and long walks on the beach.

9 out 10 prophets agree that Shea Flinn would make an excellent addition to the city council.

All three campaigns can expect to be getting my inflated consulting bill now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Midtown Forum

On Sunday, Sepetmebr 16th, the Central Gardens Neighborhood Association is sponsoring a Candidates Forum for the Mayoral Candidates and the City Council who represent districts in Midtown.

The forum will be held from 4 pm - 6 pm and will be held in the gymnasium at Idewild School.

Here is the announcement on the website for Central Gardens.

Here is a google map for Idewild School.

I hope to see you there.

MSDIA Endorsements

I took part in the Mid-South Democrats in Action endorsement meeting last night and the following candidates were enthusiastically endorsed by the group:

Mayor: Herman Morris

District 1: Bill Morrison

District 5: Jim Strickland

District 6: Reginald Milton

District 8 Position 1: Ian Randolph

District 8 Position 3: Myron Lowery

District 9 Position 2: Shea Flinn

District 9 Position 3: Desi Franklin

I’m in total agreement with the group on every one of those endorsements. Remember that the non-super districts may have run-offs. Keep those checkbooks out, and those canvassing shoes laced.

Time to Be a Man and Pick a Side...

Did you feel it this morning? That smell of cardboard being taken out of trucks, and the sound of posts being stuck into the mushy ground? That would be the smell and sound of early voting starting. I love it. The game is almost over, so I might as well pick a team.

Willie Herenton had his time. His victory 16 years ago was a great thing for the city. His continued presence in that post is not. He has, unfortunately, become a roadblock to new ideas for the problems that face this city. No one needs me to list the ways this is so. The question is who to support. With Carol and Herman splitting the anti-Herenton vote, he is pretty much assured reelection. There are a lot of undecideds hanging back to see which of them has the momentum to challenge the Doctor.

I have a lot of respect for Carol Chumney. She has represented me well in the state house and on the city council. Her work for children as a legislator is particularly laudable. She’s a fighter who doesn’t shy away from confrontation but always stands up against what she thinks is wrong. I will not say a bad thing about her here. She has my utmost respect.

Herman Morris is an experienced executive. We need someone to go into that office who knows how to handle massive and complex budgets and personnel issues. Herman has done that. We need someone who has a thoughtful and calm demeanor, rather than the bluster and over-the-top characters so common in local Memphis politics. A look at his campaign shows the ability to bring together people across racial and partisan lines. This is a rare ability in this city. Herman has the organization to compete. He has the money to compete. He has the experience and ability to do the job and do it well. This is why I am endorsing Herman Morris for mayor today.

Point me to a poll to work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Turn

I am not going to post a full list of endorsements, because I believe in quality over quantity. We have an embarrassment of riches for this election - it is rare to have so many qualified people running. With so many seats up for grabs, the City of Memphis is going to have plenty of new faces in positions of power, and, in some cases, I really haven't made up my mind which button I am going to push when I go vote. So, instead of a laundry list, I am going to talk to you about my friends.

The Mayor's race

I mentioned that Herman Morris was my choice very early on in the race. That has not changed. I would love to wax poetically about all of the reasons of why you should vote for Herman Morris, but, for me, it has to do with the people standing behind him. He has put together a cross section of Memphians that I respect - Minerva Johnican, Thomas Boggs, John Ryder, Mayor Bill Morris, and Judge Russell Sugarmon have all been around local politics long enough that I pay attention when they decide to endorse someone. Herman has been working very hard, and I like everything I have heard him say. His campaign has not been perfect, but it is easy for me to see the faults from the sidelines without the pressuring glare of being in the middle of a very tough race.

District 9, Position 2

Shea Flinn and I actually have known each other for a long time. His dad and my dad went to East High School together. He went to the boy's version of my high school (he graduated a year later than I did), and when his father ran for Mayor, a mutual friend of ours tried to get me to work on the Flinn campaign. I have seen him at the St. Peter's Picnic in the heat of summer working for various candidates, and what I can tell you about Shea is that he works hard for things that he believes in. I think the tag line on his website says it all - "Shea for Service." When Shea was elected as the interim Senator for District 30, it would have been very easy for him to go up to Nashville and do nothing. He could have easily said that he was only filling a seat and not gotten involved, but he didn't. He showed up and he filed legislation. When he got home, he could have just gone back to his regular job and stayed out of the way. Instead, he worked with the Citizens against Crime group to help organize a community in their efforts to make Memphis safer. Shea will bring that same commitment to the City Council and we will all be the better for it.

District 5

What can I say about Jim Strickland? Jim is one of the nicest, one of the most hardworking, one of the most dependable people that I know. He is a former Democratic party chair. He has worked hard for a lot of Democratic candidates. He takes an interest in his community, and he wants to make the city a better place for his kids.

Jim is the type of guy that we all should want running for office because he is running for office for all the right reasons. He is not running to be the next mayor of Memphis (I think Melyne would kill him). He isn't running to get good seats at the Tiger basketball games (he already has season tickets). He isn't even running because the City Council will look good on his resume (Lawyer, has his own firm). He is running for office because he knows that he can make a difference. Jim is a successful lawyer with a wonderful family and plenty of good friends. I have absolutely no doubt that Jim's life would be just fine if he had decided not to run for the City Council this year. However, that is not who Jim is. He sees a chance to help and he jumps in with both feet, and we will all benefit from that when he is elected to the City Council.

When I wrote about what I look for in a candidate, my friend autoegocrat wrote this in the comments:

All other things being equal, a person's ability to manage and run their own successful political campaign isn't such a bad measure of their overall competence. It usually tells you a lot about their ability to form coalitions and make allies.

These three candidates, in my opinion, have done their part by building coalitions and reaching out to the voters, and now we need to do our part and vote for them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hubris... My Endosements...

It’s that time of the year. Election season. It’s like Christmas for political dorks like me. A lot of people have been asking me how I’m voting, so I’ll pretend the rest of ya’ll care too. Here are my endorsements, for what they’re worth. As usual, I have no financial stakes in the outcome of these… Oh, hell, who am I kidding? Vote for who I tell you to or I’ll break your kneecaps. : - )

City Council:


I’ve had the good fortune to get to know Bill pretty well over the last two years, and I’d be hard-pressed to name someone I’d rather have representing me on the city council. He’s a teacher, a veteran, and a father. He’s also a honest, hard-working activist who would provide a great progressive voice in city government.

District 2: Ivon Faulkner

If you’re looking to pick the best candidate who might win, go with Brian Stephens. If you want to support a good Democrat, who has been fighting the good fight and building the party up in Republican areas then reward Ivon with your vote.

District 3: No endorsement.

I’m torn three ways here. It’s not my district, and I’m not working in this race, so I’ll stay out of it. Davida, Harold, and Coleman would all make good council members. Davida has the support of New Path, Harold has the CA endorsement (as well as that of the always well-informed Paula Casey and Happy Jones), and Coleman Thompson has support from a lot of activists whose opinions I respect. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to duck this question.

District 4: Wanda Halbert

Wanda doesn’t need any held from me to walk away with this race. You may remember Johnny Hatcher as the guy who ran as a Republican against Steve Cohen because Cohen has a decent record on gay rights. He then ran for the county commission as a Democrat. Now he’s hoping to achieve the trifecta of having been defeated as a Democrat, Republican, and Independent. Way to go Johnny.

Disctrict 5: Jim Strickland

This is my district. Good-old-fashioned district 5, historical home to the anti-establishment, “quirky white progressive” member of the council who tends to lose a lot of 12-1 votes. Jim isn’t Chumney, and he’s not Vergos. He’s not going to be the bomb-thrower that this district is used to. He’s not going to be in front of every camera within a five block radius. However, that is less needed this time. The council is going to be full of fresh faces who are willing to take a look at new approaches. Jim is a bridge-builder. He’s the hardest working candidate in this election cycle, and he’s a voice of experience that will be useful on a largely neophyte city council.


Smart, idealistic, and active in the community. Reginald is the executive director of the South Memphis Alliance. He’s exactly the sort of leader the district needs, and you get the added pleasure of defeating another Ford which is second only to beating Republicans in my book.

District 7: If Barbara had kept the name Holt than maybe I could endorse her.

It’s unlikely she’ll be beat, and Barbara Swearengen Holt-Ware has been effective for her district. She has also been a disheartening defender of corrupt politicians, and I can’t stomach a vote for her. In theory, Veronica Castillo has the best shot of the challengers. I can’t pretend to have been involved enough in this race to make a call.

District 8 Position 1: Ian Randolph

Ian is a fine progressive, community leader who would be a great asset to the council.

District 8 Position 2: No endorsement.

This race has several good candidates who would be fine members of the council.

District 8 Position 3: Myron Lowery

I’m all for throwing the bums out, but Myron is a strong voice for his district, is the best candidate in this race, and is the closest thing to untouchable as anyone on the council.

Distict 9 Position 1: Scott McCormick

Cecil Hale isn’t really campaigning so does it even really matter what I say about Scott? He’s a cross-dressing, puppy-kicking, communist. What’s that? He still won? Works for me. (Sarcasm people, chill…)

District 9 Position 2: Desi Franklin

First off, let me say that Boris Combest is a good guy who would make a good council member. I’ve had the privilege of working with him on the executive committee, and I think highly of him. The same goes for Mary Wilder’s record of service in community organizations and as my interim state representative. With all that said, there’s only one good Democrat in this race who can win. That’s Desi Franklin. Desi has the money, the organization, and the credentials to win this race.

I’ve gotten to work with Desi more than either of us would care to reflect on over the last few years. She’s a good Democrat, a public servant, a hard-worker, and a great leader. She’s a lifelong Memphian, has a record of community involvement a mile long, and she has been a whirlwind force in the local party over the last few years. She would do District 9 proud on the city council.

District 9 Position 3: Shea Flinn

As weird as it feels to be pulling the lever for a name that says “George Flinn,” I’ll do it with pride. Shea is a young progressive with a great future. He made a name for himself with incredible work as Steve Cohen’s interim replacement. Imagine what he can do with a full term.

City Court Clerk: Thomas Long

Long has earned another term with his work as city court clerk. I still think these sort of positions should be appointed though.

City Mayor: Drum Roll Please…

I’ve said I was staying out of this race. Despite a lot of begging and arm-twisting I still am. Maybe I’ll come out for someone before election day, I doubt it though. I have a lot of respect for Herman. I have a lot of respect for Carol. Neither has managed to generate any excitement in me or show that they have much in the way of plans besides “I’m not Herenton.” Show me something tonight. I want to be excited. I want to want to go to work for you. Herman needs to show me that he can win. Carol needs to show me that she can do more than lob bombs. Until then, I have plenty of other races to play with.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Voters Choice

In less than a month, we will be voting again. Early voting starts this coming Friday. So, when the Commercial Appeal put the ballot in the paper on Friday, I knew it was time to figure out who I was going to vote for.

This morning, I sat in my comfy chair and I looked at the ballot and realized I was going to have a harder time this year figuring it out. There are some really good people running this year, and some of them are running in the same districts.

It got me thinking - how do you decide who to vote for? Not specifically, but in general. Are you the kind of voter who researches every race and picks people based on that or do you just go with the names you know? Is there a minimum number of issues you have to agree with someone on or do you realize that it doesn't matter if the Court Clerk is pro-choice, because his or her job doesn't affect your right to choose? Have you ever had to vote for someone who you dislike personally because they are the best person for the job?

Let's look at an example of one of the races I am having trouble with. There are three candidates in a particular race (Note: characteristics will be changed for the purposes of protecting the identity of the actual people I am talking about).

Candidate A is someone I have met on a couple of occasions. I have talked to this candidate about his/her vision for the city. I agree with some of his/her views, and I think he/she is basically someone I would want to represent me.

Candidate B is someone I know slightly better than Candidate A. He/she has a lot more pure political experience and, although I agree with most of his/her views, I am not quite sure how those views transfer into actual goals for the seat.

Candidate C is not someone I know at all. I have read the mail piece that he/she has sent me, and it looks like they could do the job if elected.

So, I guess my first choice is easy. I am obviously not voting for Candidate C. I tend to vote for people I know over people I don't. I have been involved in the local political scene long enough that I know a lot of people, and even if I don't know the candidate personally, I know people who know the candidate. So, it is very rare that I don't know someone who is running for office. So, eliminating someone I don't know is a pretty easy choice for me.

So, now I am stuck. Do I go with the person whose personality I like better or the one who has spent more money? Do I go with the person who I agree with 85% of the time or the one who I agree with 55% overall, but 100% on my big issues?

This is only slightly related to the ballot, but did you know that in Chicago, the ballot order is determined by the order in which candidates turn in their petitions? Can you imagine the cluster fuck that would occur at the Shelby County Election Commission office if we had a similar system? I do think it would be hilarious to watch and see if any candidates would tackle one of their opponents to beat them to the window and get a better ballot placement. The person who told me about this did not understand the value of the alphabetical ballot placement. What do you think? Should candidates be rewarded for speed or is there value in allowing people to wait to turn in their petitions?

I am not going to put together a full list of endorsements because this is a group blog and I am sure that I don't speak for the full group. However, I am working on one endorsement that I will put up later in the week, and if you know me, you probably already know who I am voting for anyway.