Politics » Politics Feature

Honors and Updates

Local luminaries, past and present, make the hit list.


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The U.S. House Resolution formally apologizing for slavery that was sponsored earlier this year by Representative Steve Cohen has earned the Tennessee congressman the D. Emilio Castrelar Work Recognition Award, presented in Madrid, Spain, by the Vida Foundation, which concerns itself with environmental protection and human rights issues.

"It is gratifying that my sponsorship in the U.S. House of Representatives of the resolution apologizing for the slavery and segregation of African Americans in our country has inspired people abroad to work for racial reconciliation in their own nations," Cohen said in accepting the award at a Friday ceremony attended by numerous officials of the Spanish government and other dignitaries.

• Shelby County commissioner Steve Mulroy has been awarded one of three inaugural Democracy Innovator Awards by FairVote, a national nonprofit election reform and voting rights organization. Mulroy received the award in the Local Reform category for "his effective advocacy of instant runoff voting, which was supported this year by 71 percent of voters for future city elections in the City of Memphis and for his ground-breaking law review articles about proportional voting systems and the Voting Rights Act."

• Since he left the U.S. House of Representatives in 1997, having turned the active political part of the family business over to his son Harold Jr., former congressman Harold Ford Sr. has resided in Florida and done mucho commuting between there and Washington, where he maintains a lucrative lobbying business.

His latest client? As The Hill, an insider newsletter in D.C. puts it, "The Automobile Dealers Consortium hired The Harold Ford Group to 'provide assistance with identifying and securing financial assistance for several automobile dealers in order to remain solvent during the recent nationwide economic downturn,' federal lobbying records show."

How does that old slogan go? "Ford's got a better idea." Well, he'd better.

• Meanwhile, there continues to be considerable interest in the political future of Harold Ford Jr., who succeeded his father in Congress for 10 years and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Since then, Ford has maintained his media visibility as a TV commentator, first on Fox News and most recently on MSNBC. He has married and lives much of the time with his wife in New York, where he held a position on Wall Street with Merrill Lynch. The latter facts gave rise to speculation that Ford might be interested in succeeding Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.

But Ford adviser Michael Powell told the Associated Press in Nashville that the congressman would not seek the New York Senate seat. Still, since Ford also maintains a domicile in Memphis, his name continues to be featured on lists of potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates in 2010.

• After Fred Thompson's failed effort in the 2008 presidential primaries, political pundits might not have the former Tennessee senator to kick around anymore. But drama critics will have another shot.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Thompson has signed on to portray a chief of detectives on the ABC television program Life on Mars, a show in which, via a space-time warp, a law-enforcement officer has been cast 35 years into the past.

• As mentioned last week, former Bartlett state representative Tre Hargett, an ex-House majority leader who now lists his residence as Hendersonville, is a contender for the position of Tennessee secretary of state.

Former state House members Larry Scroggs of Germantown and David Shirley of Memphis also filed applications for the position as of last Friday's deadline.

Applying for the position of state treasurer are Shelby County commissioner David Lillard; Bill McGaughey; and Bill Watkins. All are Germantown residents.

No Shelby Countians have applied to become comptroller of the treasury, a position that evidently will be filled by Justin Wilson of Nashville. Wilson is the sole applicant.

All the constitutional positions carry a salary of $180,000. The current holders, renominated by the state Democratic caucus, are Secretary of State Riley Darnell, Treasurer Dale Sims, and Comptroller John Morgan.

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