To start at the top, Sheriff Mark Luttrell was always going to annihilate the disheveled sad sack Ernest Lunati for county mayor on the Republican side, and it had become obvious that incumbent interim mayor Joe Ford would win over county commissioner Deidre Malone, who never quite got the public recognition she needed.
The totals were: Republicans —
Mark Lutrell, 28,538; Ernest Lunati, 828.
Democrats - Joe Ford, 20,284; Deidre Malone, 12, 879; Otis Jackson Jr., 2,164.
Similarly, the two winners in the Sheriff’s race — Democrat Randy Wade, until recently trhe district director for 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, and Republican Bill Oldham, current chief deputy — were expected to win, and they did not disappoint.
The totals were:
Republicans — Bill Oldham, 13,841; Dale Lane, 7, 976; Bobby Simmons, 5,879; and James E. Coleman, 939.
Democrats — Randy Wade, 22,557; Reginald French, 6,757; Larry Hill, 2,726; and Bennie L. Cobb, 1,810.
The surprises in these top-of-ticket races and some of the down-ballot outcomes as well was just how one-sided they were.
Everyone knew, for example, that Memphis City Schools chief auditor Melvin Burgess, son of a well-remembered police director, would be a strong contender for the District 2, Position 3 county commission seat, but most observers expected community organizer Reginald Milton and RN/Democratic activist Norma Lester to be contenders. They weren’t.
The totals in that Democratic primary race:
Melvin Burgess, 4,520; Reginald Milton, 1,605; Norma Lester, 1,059; Tina Dickerson, 499; Frecddie L. Thomas, 368; and Eric Dunn, 285.
OTHER KEY RACES:
Probate Court Clerk:
Democrats -- Sondra Becton, 10,929; Peggy J. Dobbins, 5,366; Annita Sawyer-Hamilton; Clay Perry, 3,549; Danny W. Kail, 3, 120; Karen Tyler, 2,782.
Republicans -- Paul Boyd (unopposed), 22,408.
Becton, a career employee in the Probate clerk's office, had made several runs at the top job, losing by a whisker four years ago. Like Burgess, she was known to be a contender, but her margin of victory, especially without much financial underpinning, was a surprise.
Equally surprising was the lower-than-expected showing of Kail, who ran a vigorous race and had significant endorsements.
Juvenile Court Clerk:
Democrats -- Shep Wilbun, 25,075; Charles R. Marshall, 4,954; Sylvester BradleyJr., 2,508.
Republicans --Joy Touliatos (unopposed), 23,185.
Wilbun, the former incumbent who lost his clerkship eight years ago to Steve Stamson amid charges of malfeasance that never resulted in an indictment, profited both from significant name recognition and a widespread impression that he had been ill-served in 2002.
Democrats -- Coleman Thompson, 15,088; Carlton W. Orange, 9,138; Lady J. Swift, 4,835.Like Becton, Coleman had been a narrow loser four years ago, and his name recognition allowed him to fend off a surprisingly stout-looking challenge from newcomer Orange. Incumbent Leatherwood got a free run in his primary despite having challenged 7th District congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, a GOP mainstay, two years ago.
Republicans -- Tom Leatherwood (unopposed).
Criminal Court Clerk:
Democrats -- Ricky W. Dixon, 12, 783; Carmichael Johnson Sr., 8,822; Steven Webster, 6,833. Republicans -- Jimmy Moore, 24 , 598.
Dixon is the brother of the imprisoned Roscoe Dixon, a well-liked former state senator who was nabbed in the Tennessee Waltz sting of 2005, and the younger Dixon profited somewhat from a vicarious sympathy vote. Incumbent Moore's totals, like those of Luttrell in the mayor's race, indicate that Democrats will have to go some in the August general election, despite their (slight) numerical predominance in voter registration.
On the other side of the calculator, GOP nominee for Sheriff Oldham had totals way behind those of his Democratic counterpart, Wade. To stress the point: There is a rough equivalence to the parties in Shelby County, all other factors being equal.
Looking ahead, the real variable in the August head-on clash between Democrats and Republicans in contested county races will be whether or not a Herenton-Cohen showdown develops for real in the 9th congressional district. It it does, the Democrats will have a built-in edge over their GOP rivals in all potentially close races.
Democrats --Regina Morrison Newman, 19,936; M. LaTroy williams, 10,055.
Republicans -- David Lenoir, 15,922; John H. Willingham, 11,569.
Incumbent Regina Morrison Newman performed impressively, as expected, against a well-financed (and self-financed) opponent. The up-and-coming Lenoir was able to turn back a challenge from perennial Old Warrior Willingham.COMMISSION RACES. Incumbent Republican Mike Ritz (8,370 votes) in District 1, Position 1, was unopposed, as was former longtime incumbent Democrat Walter Bailey (7,530 votes) in District 2, 1. Ritz will be serving a second term; Bailey was term-limited out four years ago and is returning to the commission.
A characteristic of the commission races is that all of them were one-party affairs, with the exception of District 5, centered on East and Southeast Memphis, which remains something of a swing district on the 13-member body.
District 1, Position 2:
This Republican district was won handily by Heidi Shafer, with 6,338 votes to Dr. Albert L. Maduska's 2,708. Shafer, who gained prominence a decade ago as the leader of a petition drive against the FedEx Forum deal, has been serving as the special assistant to the incumbent in this district, George Flinn, who is making a bid for Congress in the 8th congressional district.
Shafer's party connections were too much for newcomer Maduska to overcome.
District 1, Position 3:Mike Carpenter (7,644 votes), an independent-minded Republican incumbent, demonstrated significant strength by overcoming challenger Joe Baier (2,154 votes), who billed himself as "a True Conservative Republican" and was the vicar for dissident Republicans angry with Carpenter for his deviations from the party line on key votes.
District 2, Position 2:
Incumbent Democrat Henri Brooks easily turned back a challenge from David Vincierelli, 7,036 to 1,237.
District 2, Position 3:
District 3, Position 1:
Democratic incumbent James Harvey fought off a challenge from educator James O. Catchings Sr., 6,282 to 4,584.
District 3, Position 2:
Incumbent Sidney Chism, a prominent Democratic Party broker, had no problem with Andrew Jerome (Rome) Withers of the well-known photography clan. Vote totals were 7,909 to 3,009.
District 3, Position 3:
Demonstrating the continuing power of the Ford name in politics, newcomer Justin Ford, son of the interim mayor, turned out edith Ann Moore, who had been the appointed incumbent for the last several months. Vote was 7,342 to 3,822.
District 4, Position 1:
Outgoing Probate Court clerk Chris Thomas (7,631) won a bare majority over two GOP challengers, John Pellicciotti (4,871), who had served as the appointed incumbent in Position 3, and Jim Bomprezzi (2,298).
District 4, Position 2:
Incumbent Republican Wyatt Bunker, with 7,804 votes, outpointed challengers John Wikerson (2,999) and Ron Fittes (2,968).
District 4, Position 3:
In what some thought would be a serious contested battle, Terry Roland, a hero to Republicans for his 2007 near-miss challenge to Democratic state senator Ophelia Ford, almost doubled the vote of George Chism, 9,544 to 4,837.
Jennings Bernard keeps trying, but he hasn't won one yet, and he was hard put against incumbent Democrat Steve Mulroy, a lion to party progressives. Mulroy had 1,668 to ernard's 640 votes. Republican Rolando Toyos had 924 votes in an unopposed race.