Shelby County mayoral race heats up

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In May's primary election, six candidates for mayor will compete for votes from Shelby County residents.

Tuesday, Memphis Flyer senior editor and political analyst Jackson Baker said the county's mayoral race is tightening up.

"I think Deidre Malone got a huge boost when she got the Commercial Appeal newspaper endorsement," Baker said Tuesday. "Her TV ad did her a whole lot of good, because it showed a pleasant person, relaxed, competent."

Baker believes the Shelby County Commission's first African American, female chairperson may have caught up in popularity to fellow Democrat, interim Shelby Count Mayor Joe Ford.

"He's doing a lot of things very publicly, holding a lot of open meetings. He claims to have saved The MED.  That remains to be seen, but he's doing his job," Baker said.

The other Democrat, General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson, was recently taken to task for a software glitch that caused court accounting problems even before he came into office.

"All the questioning of his financial conduct undermined his platform, really," Baker said. "I think he ended up back at the starting line."

On the Republican side is candidate Ernest Lunati, is the owner of a sexually oriented business who has ran for different regional offices since the nineties.  Lunati was convicted years back after posting billboards promoting swingers parties.

Baker recently posted a YouTube video where Lunati animatedly described Memphis police drug arrests at a mayoral forum.  Click here to watch the video.

"I hope he thinks it's funny," Baker said. "I hope he's not serious."

Baker believes Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell is the favorite for mayor.

"Mark Luttrell is a very imposing figure," Baker said. "He's always had a lot of cross-over support."

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