photo by Jackson Baker
Sidney Chism and Jim Strickland at Sunday community picnic.
Adherents of City Councilman Jim Strickland’s campaign for mayor are certainly pleased with their guy’s ability to go dollar-for-dollar for incumbent Mayor A C Wharton, and they’re counting on a good showing for Strickland in both the Poplar Corridor and Cordova, where his message of public safety and budgetary austerity resonate.
But those predominantly white areas of Memphis (to call them by their right name) are probably not enough, all by themselves, to get Strickland over, especially since Wharton has his own residual strength in the Corridor and with the city’s business community, where the mayor can hope to at least break even.
Yes, it’s probably true that A C’s vote in the black precincts ain’t what it used to be, and it never was what you would call dominating, not with Mike Williams working the African-American community, along with Whitehaven Councilman Harold Collins and Justin Ford, and with Kenneth Whalum ready to grab off a huge chunk of that vote, should he make what is an expected entry.
Sill, Strickland needs to grab a share of the black vote to have a chance to get elected. Where does he get it? Well, he allows as how he’s attending black churches on Sunday, the red carpets of the African-American church sanctuary being one of the well-worn pathways in local politics. So that will help.
But probably not as much as the endorsement he got on Saturday at the annual Sidney Chism community picnic on Horn Lake Road from the impresario of that event, Chism, who announced his support of Strickland early on from the stage.
Time may have tarnished Chism’s reputation a bit, as it did his longtime ally, former Mayor Willie Herenton, but the former Teamster leader, state senator, and county commissioner still has enough influence to have basically put Randa Spears over as Shelby County Democratic chair this year.
And he may have enough to give Jim Strickland that extra boost he needs. We’ll see.