What is the GOP Trying to Tell Us? That Chumney vs. Weirich is a Race?



Chumney (left) and Weirich: A Republican broadside opens up doubt where there was certitude.
  • Chumney (left) and Weirich: A Republican broadside opens up doubt where there was certitude.

As August 2nd gets nearer, expect to see and hear some surprising things on the campaign trial. One of them surfaced this week in an email sent out from Shelby County Republican headquarters.

The slug line itself was intriguing: A campaign record that Prince Mongo would be proud of.

The surprise, though, would come from the email itself. Two surprises, really. One was the choice of subject: Carol Chumney, Democratic nominee for District Attorney General. The other —and chief — surprise was that the Republican Party found itself tempted (Or obliged. Or whatever) to go after Chumney , whose chances of beating widely admired Republican Amy Weirich, the incumbent D.A. , had almost universally been written off, even among Chumney’s relative handful of never-say-die supporters.

The text wastes no time, beginning with a direct slap: “There are a few things you can bet on when it comes to summertime in Shelby County: Heat. Humidity. And Democrat Carol Chumney running for yet another political office!”

It goes on to recount the fact that Chumney lost three mayoral races in the last decade — one for county mayor and two for mayor of Memphis — and squares the verbal circle with the statement “It’s a record Prince Mongo would be proud of.”

Next, after endeavoring to establish that Chumney is unqualified to be D.A. and is “all-too-desperate for a government job,” the text enumerates a series of Weirich accomplishments and endorsements that are indeed impressive.

Fair enough — even to noting that fact that Weirich has some prominent Democratic support (City Council members Jim Strickland and Shea Flinn, for starters, though no names are actually mentioned) and that the “area’s top two Democrats,” who are identified as 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen and Mayor A C Wharton, have declined to endorse Chumney.

All de rigueur. (As they say.) So why are we reading this email? “This race is too important to leave to chance.” That seems a little breathy. After stressing the importance to public safety of electing Weirich, the next paragraph goes on to say, “But it won’t happen by accident.”

Chance? Accident? Puzzling terms, especially given the facts of Weirich’s advantages (not excluding something like a 10-to-one fundraising advantage) and the certitude of there being a flood of suburban (read: Republican) votes on August 2nd in favor of municipal school districts.

What does the Shelby County GOP know that the rest of the sapient world doesn’t about circumstances of chance or accident that could potentially upset the odds board and give Carol Chumney a victory over Amy Weirich? Why does the Grand Old Party sound so worried?

Chumney should be grateful for this Republican email. It introduces the idea of doubt into what had been widely regarded as a done deal.

In fact, Chumney began circulating the letter herself —attaching it to an email in which, inter alia, she pointed out:

I came within 7 points of becoming the Mayor of Memphis in 2007 against a 16 year incumbent.

I ran for public office because of my passion for public service. My win record is 16 to 3, having won 7 primaries for state house; seven general elections for state house; the top vote getter for the city council election and then winning the run-off against an opponent who put thousands of his own money in the race (George Flinn). My only losses have been to well-funded incumbent mayors.

This, too, is fair enough. And Chumney, too, has some things in her resume to boast of, including, as she noted in a followup email, her service as a special judge in civil and criminal courts.

Is there a race here? It still looks awfully much like a probable runaway for Weirich. But maybe indeed the Republicans know something troubling about the vagaries of fate. That email sure makes it look that way.

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