So this is what we've come to: A professional wrestler, Jerry Lawler, throws his leotard into the race for Memphis mayor, and in one of the more irony-challenged statements of all time, claims it's because the city "has become a laughingstock."
He is joined in the race by — among many others — the Rev. Kenneth Whalum, a school board member and minister famous for posting the line "Jesus Said, Bring Me That Ass," among other weird things, on his church's marquee. And former city councilman Edmund Ford has all but declared he plans to run, thereby bringing his own special brand of crazy posturing to the fray. Meanwhile, county mayor A C Wharton, the favorite (if there is such a thing) in the race, was foolish enough to go on Thaddeus Matthews' radio loon-party and chuckle as Matthews threw all manner of racist crap in his face.
Toss in some more of the usual suspects — Myron Lowery, Carol Chumney, Herman Morris, Sharon Webb, Charles Carpenter, and no doubt others — and it's about as frightening a spectacle of a mayor's race as one could imagine. Think for a moment about this entire bunch on a "debate" stage together, moderated by, say, Otis Sanford and Joe Birch. That show would rival anything Jerry Springer could come up with. The YouTube possibilities alone are wondrous to ponder.
It's not that none of these candidates is qualified. Some of them are pretty smart, and several of them would certainly be an improvement over the current officeholder. The problem is that anyone can throw their hat into the ring and further divide the electorate. With a dozen or more candidates, some mid-fringe contender could manage to win the election with, say, 15 percent of the vote. (Hello, Mayor Lawler!)
At this juncture, it seems highly unlikely that Memphis will have a consensus winner for mayor, which is a recipe for more divisiveness, back-biting, chaos, ineptitude, and stagnation. We can only hope that two or three qualified candidates manage to somehow separate themselves from the herd.
So yes, things are scary here in Memphis, Tennessee. Could it get any worse? I don't know. But I can think of one thing to be thankful for — that it wasn't Janis Fullilove's year to be City Council chairman. Interim mayor Janis Fullilove! How does that sound to you? Whee!