County leaders could decide District 29 race

If the state senate does vote to oust Ophelia Ford, it would be up to the Shelby County Commissioners to find a temporary replacement. The County Commission is majority Republican and there is a chance now that the group could choose to put Republican Terry Roland in the seat he lost to Democrat Ophelia Ford.

If and when the District 29 hot potato lands before the Shelby County Commission, all bets are off. This group could make the decision for voters, at least for a year. And Democrat Michael Hooks says - although he expects Ophelia Ford to have a shot - he worries that Commissioners will vote along party lines.

Hooks: "I think probably, with a Republican majority, they'll probably elect Terry Roland."

It would have the effect of reversing the hotly debated District 29 senate race, won by Ford with a 13 vote lead.

Roland and his lawyers have been fighting the election results ever since, pointing to voting irregularities. But Roland would need each of the seven Republican votes on this County Commission to be appointed interim senator.

Republican Commissioner Bruce Thompson tells me it's still up in the air.

Thompson: "I've learned in life there are no sure things. I think if this issue comes to us from the Senate, then I and I would assume all of my colleagues will listen to the pros and cons on all sides and will make a decision based on the facts."

John Willingham: "Bruce Thompson will probably be the swing vote."

Republican John Willingham wouldn't commit his vote, but told me he is a close friend of Terry Roland's and that he deserves a chance. But - he says - he's just not sure the votes are there.

Willingham: "I know in my heart of hearts where I am. But I really truly don't know where the rest of the commission is."

Commissioner Michael Hooks - a Democrat - tells me he really hopes the Commission will find some other, independent candidate who will vow not to run again for the seat at the end of the year. A compromise candidate, he says. But, even he admits, it's not likely to happen.