Lawler’s Hail Mary: The Sharpton Bomb

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Sharpton and Lawler do the deal
  • Sharpton and Lawler do the deal
It is no secret that mayoral candidate Jerry Lawler has had a hard time cranking up his campaign. The W.W.E. eminence has been left off the invite list of major debates, his poll numbers have refused to rise, and, with only days left in the special mayoral race, his hopes of matching his 1999 mayoral-race showing of 12 percent, or of even coming close to that number, seem remote.

Give him this. Lawler is trying to come off the canvas with some late moves. This past week he’s opened headquarters offices in Frayser and Whitehaven, landed radio interviews, and presided over wrestling exhibitions where he’s had an opportunity to talk up his campaign with the crowds.

And now the wrestling impresario is trying to bring another kind of show to Memphis — this one a tag-team affair involving Al Sharpton, Newt Gingrich, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It’s called the National Education Reform Tour, and it has the imprimatur of President Barack Obama.

In the words of a Department of Education press release, the tour was designed to “include school visits, stakeholder meetings and media briefings: Further: “The goal of the tour is to stimulate discussion and community engagement around issues of education reform.

The tour, which began in Philadelphia on Sept. 29, is so far set to include New Orleans on November 3 and Baltimore on November 13, but, as the DOE release notes, “More stops, including a rural site, will be added as the tour progresses.”

Two weeks ago on one of his regular Monday night broadcasting gigs, Lawler was in Albany, New York, where he encountered Sharpton and pitched him to bring the tour to Memphis. “We have a situation with our schools in Memphis that could really use some guidance,” Lawler tells Sharpton in a DVD the two put together.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Sharpton responds, saying that he’ll talk it over with the other principals and “try to look you up in Memphis.”

Discussing the possibility this week, Lawler offered it as an antidote to what he said was a “divisive” action involving frontrunning mayoral candidate A C Wharton, who has announced a Friday press conference at his campaign headquarters at which the Afro-American Police Association was scheduled to join the Memphis Police Association in endorsing the Shelby County mayor.

“Why should we be encouraging separate racial organizations?” Lawler said. “Why do we even need an ‘Afro-American” organization

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