Joe Reeves, the little-known administrative assistant to the late Probate Court Clerk Guy Bates has become the best bet for a short-term appointment-- should the Shelby County Commission decide to make one before November's special election. Meanwhile, the entry into the clerk sweepstakes of Commissioner Linda Rendtorff at a Shelby GOP steering committee meeting Thursday night compromised the hopes of another GOP hopeful, outgoing State Senator Tom Leatherwood. And another commission member, Democrat Shep Wilbun, has seen his hopes for both a short-term appointment and the Democratic nomination weakened-- the first by Rendtorff's entry, the second by a widening field of fellow Democrats.
With both Rendtorff and Wilbun in the running, and with other hopefuls emerging in both major political parties, the seven Republicans and six Democrats on the commission would be hard put to choose one of their two commission mates as a temporary appointee. Leatherwood's hopes for ultimate nomination by the Republican steering committee are threatened not only by Rendtorff's candidacy but also by some aversion, in high party councils, to a couple of his legislative votes.
It is known that the administration of Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout was less than enamored of Senator Leatherwood's role in the defeat of a real estate transfer tax which county government had been counting on. And that fact, leading to lukewarm support by Rout's faction (or worse), is said to have contributed to his narrow loss to Democratic incumbent Rita Clark in the assessor's race.
Wilbun, meanwhile, is looking at an enlarged field of aspirants for the Democratic nomination-- including, notably, former University of Memphis basketball coach Larry Finch, as well as John Freeman, Tanya Cooper, and Ed Stanton. Finch lost narrowly to Bates in November 1998 and has since resolved to improve on his relatively nominal election efforts if he should be the party standard-bearer again. The Democrats will choose a candidate on September 7th, the Republicans three days later, on September 10th.