It was getting to
be something of a well-kept secret -- Tuesday's special general election for the
District 89 state House seat. Only 250 people had taken advantage of early
voting, and that was low, even by special-election standards.
That fact concerned the partisans of Jeanne Richardson (the spelling is meant to be pronounced simply 'Jean," but her friends have always said it as 'Jeanie,' and she has accommodated herself to the fact). As the Democratic nominee in a heavily Democratic Midtown district, Richardson was favored, but her primary contest against Kevin Gallagher had seen bitterness among the two camps, and with the early-voting totals so meager, the Richardson camp got worried.
So, among other things, they held a rally Friday night at the Hunt-Phelan home to get the troops juiced up for Tuesday's showdown against Republican Dave Wicker and write-in candidate Steve Edmundson. To judge by the conversation at the well-attended Richardson affair, the main concern was Edmundson, a sometime civic activist and high school teacher, and the owner of the fashionable Kudzu's bar.
But earlier in the year Shelby Democrats had seen their Republican counterparts sandbag a special election until just the last minute, giving Beverly Marrero, the previous District 89 House incumbent, a scare in her ultimately successful race for the vacant District 30 state Senate seat. So not even Wicker, still an unknown quantity, was being taken for granted.
Morrison, who had long been rumored as a candidate for the Super-District 9, Position 3 seat now held by Jack Sammons, informed his group of supporters that he would be seeking the District 1 seat being vacated by incumbent E.C. Jones instead. Amid new reports, now confirmed, that Sammons would not be seeking reelection, Democratic activist Desi Franklin had filed for the super-district seat, and Morrison -- on the theory, as he put it, that "two good Democrats shouldn't run against each other" -- opted to make his race in District 1.
That put him into a hotly contested race that also included School Board member Stephanie Gatewood, Antonio Parkinson, Keith Ferguson, and W.B. Bates II.