Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I catalogued this fall's big city mayoral elections the other day, I completely forgot about Memphis, where there is a special election October 15 to replace the recently resigned Willie Herenton. The Memphis contest is a bit like Boston's election, in that it's hard to say whether the race will be competitive or not.
Most observers (including Governing Magazine) say that Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton is the favorite to win. However, Wharton does face several opponents of stature, including interim mayor Myron Lowery.
Clearly, Wharton views himself as the frontrunner because he's following the time-honored frontrunner tradition of trying to attend as few debates as possible. Here was the story from the Memphis Commercial Appeal after he ducked a debate last week (in fairness, he did debate this week):
Wharton couldn't be reached for comment late Tuesday, but nearly bowed out of a previous debate because self-proclaimed space alien Robert "Prince Mongo" Hodges was allowed to take part.
Wharton's absence appeared to rankle some of those present, a roster that included Randy Cagle, Charles Carpenter, Carol Chumney, Wanda Halbert, Hodges, Jerry Lawler, Myron Lowery, Sharon Webb, Kenneth Whalum and John Willingham.
"If Mayor Wharton can't stomach the sight or the views or the opinions of Prince Mongo, how does he hope to govern a city of nearly 700,000 citizens that all have different views and opinions?" said Lawler, a professional wrestler.
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