Is State Rep. Carol Chumney the frontrunner in the closely watched District 5 city council race? According to her pollster, John Bakke, she is. In fact, says Bakke, Chumney not only finished first in a candidate-preference poll taken last weekend, she had 43 percent -- “almost enough to win outright.” The race in District 5 (Midtown, East Memphis) will be decided by a runoff involving the two highest finishers if no candidate gets a majority on election day. Bakke said the poll, of some 300 district residents considered “highly likely” to vote, showed physician/businessman George Flinn second with 20 percent, frequent candidate Joe Cooper next with 9 percent, and lawyer Jim Strickland just behind him, with 8 percent. Of the remainder of those polled, 19 percent were undecided or preferred another candidate, and one percent declined to answer. Margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 5.6 percent. Arborist Mark Follis, who has already filed for the office, was not included in the poll, Bakke said. Another component of the poll concerned the candidates’ favorable/unfavorable ratings. Bakke gave Chumnney’s percentages as 62 percent favorable and 12 percent unfavorable; Flinn’s were 32 aned 31, Cooper’s 22 and 42, and Strickland’s 14 and 1. Bakke suggested that Flinn’s relatively high unfavorables were a carry-over from his campaign for Shelby County mayor last year. In particular, said Bakke, “60 percent thought he had campaigned unfairly against [Republican primary opponent Larry] Scorggs.” Bakke also said that Chumney led Flinn among likely Republican voters, 41 perdent to 24 percent. In general, though, political-party factors were virtually negligible, Bakke said. (Chumney, Strickland, and Cooper are Democrats; Flinn is the endorsee of the Shelby County Republican Party.)

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