“Underdog” Lowery Lashes Out at Wharton, Herenton, Thaddeus Matthews

"What has he done during the last seven years?" Mayor pro tem asks about A C....



Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery
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  • Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery
Calling himself “the underdog,” Memphis mayor pro tem Myron Lowery announced to members of the Germantown Democratic Club Tuesday night, “I’ve been doing the city’s work and not campaigning. I’m going to start campaigning.”

And he promptly did so, throwing out broadsides and talking candidly about politics and personalities to club members gathered at the Cozymel Restaurant on Poplar Avenue. Targets for some choice Lowery invective included Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, former Mayor Willie Herenton, and blogger/talk show host Thaddeus Matthews.

In an obvious reference to the campaign of Wharton, an election opponent who is heavily favored to win the special mayoral election on October 15, Lowery said, “The other side will have bigger signs, and they’ll have people with them on the street corners. But signs don’t vote. People do. Watch. You’ll see the tide turning.”

'That man has said things about my wife....'

Lowery predicted that public opinion at large would turn his way. And so would that of radio talk-show hosts. “All except for one who uses the N-word,” he said, referring to Matthews, who has frequently been critical of Lowery on his daily KWAM radio show.

In an indirect swipe at Wharton, who made a much-noted appearance on Matthews’ show some weeks back, Lowery said, “We’ve had every politician kiss his ring.” About Matthews' N-word use, he said, “People are sitting next to him and they say nothing. That’s only a step away from young people who shoot each other with that same disrespect…. Any man who sits alongside him and lets him do it lacks some backbone.”

In a personal reference to Matthews, Lowery said, “That man has said things about my wife that, if I weren’t a politician, might bring me to want to fight.”

'Myron Lowery: The Man Willie Doesn't Want'

Asked by a club member whether he thought there had been “collusion” between Wharton and former mayor Willie Herenton, Lowery said, “You make up your own mind about that,” and added a reference to the famous sit-down between Herenton and Wharton at La Chardonnay restaurant in 2007, just before the county mayor decided not to run against Herenton for city mayor.

“I didn’t have a glass of wine with Willie. The rumor was there was a deal cut…I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t know. Yesterday, what did the [former] mayor say on the Thaddeus Matthews show? He would pass the baton. He didn’t pass it to me… The former mayor says I’m passing the baton, and I don’t want Myron.” Lowery jested that someone had suggested a campaign billboard to him that would say, “Myron Lowery: the Man Willie Doesn’t Want.”

'What has he done during the last seven years?'

Proceeding further on rival Wharton, the acting mayor said, “You can ask yourself the question: What has the county mayor done?” Recently someone had said to Lowery that Wharton might “bring the races together.” The mayor pro tem went on. “I said, ‘Well, that’s fine. What has he done during the last seven years?” To which, said Lowery, the man responded only with “Uh…uh….”

On Herenton, Lowery said, “He lacks credibility. He says one thing and does another. I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps back in the race… I never really thought Willie was going to leave.” On the eve of the former mayor’s July 30 departure, “I told my wife, I’ll believe it tomorrow when I raise my hand. The day he resigned he gave me the letter. That’s when I started planning the swearing-in ceremony.”

Concerning the forthcoming election showdown between Herenton and 9th district congressman Steve Cohen, Lowery said, “Steve has been there for me. There’s no question who I’m supporting. Certainly not the one who is not a good role model.”

Lowery also proved unusually forthcoming in his remarks concerning his onetime litigation against WMC-TV, where he had been a weekend anchor in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Deprived of a chance to become a weekday anchor at the station, Lowery sued and ultimately received a settlement.

“The important thing about that lawsuit is that Scripps-Howard started nationwide an affirmative action program at all its broadcast stations…. As a result, more African-American men and women were promoted and are now in broadcasting positions nationwide. My lawsuit was the first ever won for discrimination in broadcast journalism, the first. It’s been written up in law books, and law students now study it.”

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