The poll was of attendees at last week’s annual East Shelby club “Master Meal, and the results broke down this way — Perry, 61; former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, 12; Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Georgia entrepreneur Herman Cain, 6 each; Ron Paul, 5, and other candidates, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, trailing with scattered votes.
“I was surprised at Perry’s strength, and I was surprised by how few votes (2) Sarah Palin got,” said Weiner, who described the club's poll as “maybe the first straw vote taken in the South.” (Weiner would later say the results indicated the depth of conservatism among local Republicans.)
Reinforcing the accuracy of the local straw-vote results to some degree is the fact that the Texas governor, a late entry in the presidential sweepstakes, has been topping the charts in various national surveys of Republicans, as well.
One of the featured speakers at the annual dinner, held last week at the Great Hall in Germantown, was state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, who expressed satisfaction that the Norris-Todd bill, moved in the General Assembly by himself and state Rep. Curry Todd, also of Collierville, was essentially upheld by federal Judge Mays as the lynchpin of the ongoing process of merging Memphis City Schools with Shelby County Schools.
Said Norris: “It’s too bad that it took a federal court to explain the role of state government in education, isn’t it? Should that have been necessary? How many people at the time took swipes at the legislature for getting involved with education in Shelby County? They didn’t know the role that state government plays in providing public education in this state”
Other speakers at the Master Meal event, which is a kind of summer counterpart to the Shelby GOP’s annual Lincoln Day celebration, were Justin Joy, Shelby County Republican chairman; and Chris Devaney of Nashville, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Joy noted that the only two countywide elective offices not currently held by Republicans — General Sessions Court clerk and Assessor, now held by the beleaguered Otis Jackson and Cheyenne Johnson, respectively— were on the 2012 ballot, and challenged his audience of party adepts to help capture them. A third office, that of District Attorney General, is currently held by Amy Weirich, who will seek reelection as a Republican.
In his remarks, Devaney put forth three goals for 2012: to reelect U.S. Senator Bob Corker; to elect enough Republicans to the General Assembly to make it “walkout-proof” (a reference to the situation this year in Wisconsin, where a Democratic boycott was aimed at denying a legislative quorum); and “to send Barack Obama back home — to Chicago or Hawaii or wherever he’s from.”
Recipients of special recognition from the club were veteran club member Bob Pitman, now suffering from the after-effects of a stroke (his award was received by wife Toni and son Alan); and John Willingham, the venerable sage and frequent candidate who, in his role as barbecue maven, had catered the event.