By picking up a petition to run for mayor in the October special mayoral election last week, former mayor Willie Herenton solidified his recent reputation as a loose cannon. He furthered that impression by issuing a statement denouncing Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery and announcing that he was preparing a referendum to "allow the citizens of Memphis to rescind the current charter amendment that elevated Myron Lowery to the office of Mayor Pro Tem."
So now Herenton wants another election to rescind a charter amendment? When is this supposed to happen? You need lots of signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. Then the Election Commission has to certify the signatures and, if there are enough valid ones, schedule a referendum election. Lowery has only another two months in office as Pro Tem mayor. Preparing a referendum to take away his power makes no damn sense.
But then again, nothing Herenton has done in the past few weeks has made any sense. He's been caroming like a pinball, making outrageous statements, announcing one thing then doing just the opposite, resigning, not resigning, etc. He's blustering and floundering like, well, a punch-drunk fighter that's taken one too many blows to his noggin.
Call me a crazy optimist, but I think Herenton may have finally stepped off the curb this time. I don't think he can win back the mayor's office. He doesn't look like a tough man of the streets anymore. He looks like an unstable nut. He's the mayoral equivalent of George Foreman. He can jump back into the ring, but nobody's scared any more. Many of his former allies have gone to county Mayor A C Wharton. Wharton, by contrast, appears safe and reliable, the kind of candidate people will look to to end the "drama."
That's not an endorsement of Wharton or an indictment of any other candidate, just a statement of reality. The overlap between Herenton voters and Wharton supporters is nil, and Wharton has more money and better poll numbers than any other candidate. If anything, Herenton's entry into the race will simplify the choice for many voters.
In the last mayoral election, the electorate was triangulated, with voters waiting for the final polling in order to decide which candidate, Carol Chumney or Herman Morris, had the best chance to unseat Herenton. This time around, Herenton will find the "haters" much tougher to shake off.