BYRD EXITS MAYOR'S RACE!

Chumney stays in, resisting Byrd entreaties that she quit instead.

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Bartlett banker Harold Byrd formally dropped out of the Shelby County Mayor's race Thursday, just before the noon withdrawal deadline at the Shelby County Election Commission.

Byrd's action will, in the opinion of most observers, virtually assure Public Defender A C Wharton the Democratic nomination for mayor, although an underfunded but determined State Rep. Carol Chumney remains in the race -- despite last-minute efforts by Byrd to persuade her to withdraw instead..

Byrd's decision to withdraw followed receipt Tuesday of a fresh voter survey by his Washington-based pollster, whose findings were that Wharton had a significant lead and was guaranteed victory in a three-candidate primary.

The prospective vote totals of Byrd and Chumney, however, added up more than Wharton's total; so Byrd resolved to try to persuade Chumney , whose figures in the poll were similar to his own, to withdraw.

This approach culminated in a two-hour conversation between the two Thursday morning -- after which Chumney, despite what was said to be some wavering, resolved to continue.

Her decision resulted in Byrd's own decision to withdraw, roughly an hour before the deadline.

There were no withdrawals on the Republican side of the mayoral race, with both State Representative Larry Scroggs and radiologist/radio magnate George Flinn staying in.

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