There are endorsements, and there are Endorsements. Capital-E. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and his wife, attorney Ruby Wharton, who don’t hand them out like candy, gave one of the latter kind Tuesday afternoon.
It went to John Freeman, a candidate in the Democratic primary this year for County Clerk, and, as the mayor declared, a faithful, uncomplaining servant for well over a generation on behalf of the Whartons and various other public figures — notably Harold ford Sr. and Harold Ford Jr.
“If you don’t love people and love service, you can’t be a county clerk,,” declared Wharton, and Freeman, said the mayor, had earned “a Ph.D.” in service during those years, putting up yard signs at 3:30 in the morning in the rain or being first in line to hand out Christmas baskets to the needy, or doing whatever task he was asked to do for whoever asked him..
‘He’s a seventh son,” said Wharton, the natural father of six other sons. And he went so far as to call Freeman “another Bobby Dunavant,” referring to the late former Shelby County Probate Clerk who was legendary for his attention to duty and whose name is attached to an annual award for public service..
Ruby Wharton was equally emphatic, referring to Freeman in the kind of affectionate language that can’t be feigned and is rarely heard in the rough-and-tumble political world.
John Freeman, she said, was a “wonderful person,” with “no bounds to his love,” and, in encouraging a vote for Freeman from the sizeable crowd of attendees at the Wharton law office on Madison Avenue, she reminded them that elections in Shelby County have been won by the margin of one vote.
“Landslide Joe,” said the mayor, recalling the last such occurrence, the victory by a single vote of Joe Cooper over Guthrie Castle in a 2002 primary race for the Shelby County Commission.