Strickland greeeting his crowd
A few hundred people turned up Wednesday night at the Crescent Club for a $500-a-head post-election fundraiser for Mayor-elect Jim Strickland.
The distinguishing feature of this one was that both the guest list and the host list — the latter consisting of people who, for the most part, had been active supporters of Strickland during the recent mayoral race — were African Americans.
Analysis of election returns by precincts seems to indicate that Strickland, who is white and who began his race with minimal black support, gained significant African-American converts along the way and may have finished with something between 20 and 25 percent of the black vote. That’s an impressive feat, given that his three main opponents, including incumbent Mayor A C Wharton, were African Americans.
But, to judge by the turnout Wednesday night, the number of Strickland’s well-wishers seems to have multiplied even further. Several of the guests were asked at random what percentage of those present might have been at least nominal supporters of Wharton — or, alternatively, Harold Collins or Mike Williams — say, two months ago. (Some of them were recognizably so.)
Responses varied in the range of 70 to 85 percent, and, whether the guessers were accurate or not, their answers confirmed the
The Congressman and the Mayor-elect
general sense that there was (as there usually is for post-election fundraisers) a multiple set of reasons for attendees to be there.
And one prominent reason — especially for the newest set of converts — was to get themselves on the same page as the victorious mayor-elect. That was a useful ritual both for the attendees and for Strickland, as he gets ready, in what amounts to the traditional honeymoon period, to administer to the needs of the whole community.
Consistent with that theme, Strickland stressed in his brief remarks that he intended to have a transparent administration and was eager for those present to seek him out. “But not for the next 30 to 45 days,” he jested — that being, as he has indicated, a time for him to book up on things and to finish putting together his staff.
Several other public officials were in the crowd, including 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, who had publicly backed Wharton for reelection. Cohen — whose contacts with the new mayor will, of necessity for both of them, be frequent — made a point of seeking out Strickland for conversation.
Co-chairs for the event were Jerry Hall, Mary McDaniel and Renna Richardson. In the course of making the introductions Wednesday night, Hall joked, “Is this Empire night?” That was a reference to a popular TV show that would be airing later in the evening, but it served as something of a double entendre as well.