Climaxing a week of rumors that John Bobango would follow the lead of District Attorney General Bill Gibbons and remove himself from consideration as a potential Shelby County Mayor, the former city councilman did just that Saturday morning.
BobangoÕs statement, dispatched via passalong email,is as follows:
ÓDear Fellow Republican,
"During the last several weeks, I have seriously considered running for County Mayor. My family and friends know I have a passion for public service and this community. However, I do not want my desire to serve the public to negatively impact those around me. After reviewing all the facts, I feel there would be an adverse impact, and therefore, I have chosen to not enter the race. My final decision was based on my responsibilities and obligations to my family, the law firm and its clients.
"I deeply appreciate all the prayers and encouragement I have received, especially over the last several days.
BobangoÕs dropout leaves the way open, among Republicans, for State Senator Mark Norris, who, as theFlyer first reported, is seriously considering a run.
Norris is fatalistic about the prospect that the legislatureÕs majority Democrats will reapportion the Senate so that Shelby County, which is losing a seat, will have one majority-Republican district including both himself and long-term incumbent Curtis Person.
Person, a respected veteran who has not even had an opponent since 1966, is regarded as unbeatable.
Moreover, Norris, a former Shelby County commissioner, has genuine concerns about the countyÕs future, especially on the fiscal front. Regarded as being on the right edge of his party economically, Norris has people skills that allow him to operate in the center. Even so, should he follow through and run, he may start from a position somewhat further back than Bobango or Gibbons would have.
As the week began, there were those who assumed that Bobango would hasten to announce his candidacy; as it progressed, talk at political gatherings focused on the fact that he was developing cold feet, especially as he considered the impact upon the race of Shelby County Public Defender A C Wharton, a recent Democratic entry who has good support from Republicans, too, and across racial lines. Partisans of another Democratic candidate, Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, maintain that he, too, has broad-based support.
As one Democrat put it Saturday, ÒThey [the Republicans] are scared. TheyÕre down to their fourth string now.Ó As he spelled it out, incumbent Mayor Jim Rout, who has decided not to run, was the first string; Gibbons was the second; and Bobango was the third.
In a conversation later Saturday, Bobango said that his decision not to run was not made until Thursday afternoon and communicated to a few people Friday.
"The fact is, last Sunday my wife and children and I had some studio photos made to be suitable for campaign use," said Bobango, who attributed his change of mind to family factors and the need to complete some of the practicalities of his law firm's two-year-old merger with that of the politically influential Farris firm.
He denied strenuously that anything having to do with the candidacy of Wharton or any other Democrat influenced his action.