It could be the biggest political match-up of the year: Wharton versus Herenton.
Tuesday, group of ministers put the finishing touches on a message they planned to deliver Wednesday: Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton needs to run against Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton in the 2007 mayoral race.
Among those leading the cause are Reverends Bill Adkins and LaSimba Gray. Adkins said he hears a lot of negative things about Memphis in his travels. "When I say I'm from Memphis, I receive negative things about crime and things people have seen on national TV concerning our mayor; things that don't sit well for the city of Memphis," he said. "I think now is the time for a change."
Wharton was hesitant Monday to answer questions about a possible mayoral run.
"It would by silly for me to say, 'Uh, no, people are pushing that,' " he said. "That's been going on for a long time, and I have not changed my mind."
Wharton has long maintained that he won't run if Mayor Herenton is in the race. Though Herenton filed for candidacy last week, it hasn't stopped the group of African American ministers from drafting Wharton.
City and county officials called Tuesday's development, dubbed "Draft A C," a big twist.
"I think it's a significant development," said Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy. "Both the business community and African American ministers, I think, represent important constituencies."
"In this instance, there's a possibility of Memphians being able to choose between two qualified and capable people to lead this city," said Memphis City Council member Brent Taylor.
Officials said top African American ministers turning their backs on Herenton would change the dynamics of the mayoral race. Before this, Herenton said local businessmen were the enemy, saying they tried to bribe him from running again.
Herenton even wrote a forceful letter to Wharton in April saying no bribe would keep him from running.
"We'll know who, on July 19th, will be in the race and the voters, as they've always done, will decide who will lead the city," Taylor said.
July 19th is the deadline for candidates to file to run for mayor.
Mayor Herenton would not comment to Action News 5 about the planned Wednesday announcement.
Stay with WMCTV.com for updates on this story.
The "Draft A C" campaign will officially kick off Wednesday morning at an 11:00 a.m. press conference. Log on to WMCTV.com to watch the press conference live.
A website has also been created for the cause.