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No-Show Herenton Wins Democrats' Straw Poll

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A few score Shelby County Democrats showed up at the Rendezvous Thursday evening to pay $50 a head for the privilege of voting in a mayoral straw poll while raising money for the party. The only mayoral candidate who was there from start to finish was Herman Morris. Carol Chumney came late and addressed the crowd, as had Morris early. John Willingham had a spokesperson on hand who talked him up before the attendees. Only Mayor Willie Herenton was absent and went unspoken for. The winner? Willie Herenton.

Party chairman Keith Norman declined to give vote totals or to indicate who finished second and third.

What was proved by the event and by its outcome? That Herenton has a hard core and a network that serve him well, for all the fact that he's not campaigning this year in the conventional sense -- no fundraisers, no polls, no inclination to participate in forums.

The mayor's still very much a power, though, among inner-city Democratic cadres and among the Teamsters, both of which groups turned up in force.

A scientific poll? Of course not. What it did prove, however, was that the mayor is not lacking where G.O.T.V. (Get-out-the-vote) is the game. And that's what the game will be during early voting and on October 4th.

Meanwhile, Shelby County Republicans were busily interviewing prospective endorsees for mayoral and council positions. One showdown that was evidently resolved was that in Super-District 9, Position 3, between John Pellicciotti and Reid Hedgepeth. Pellicciotti, not too long ago (before losing twice to Democratic state representative Mike Kernell), was a potential rising star for the GOP. He had previously indicated he would withdraw before today's deadline if the nod went to Hedgepeth, who had support from outgoing Jack Sammons and from FedEx mogul Fred Smith.

Pellicciotti withdrew. So that's that.

--Jackson Baker

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