Wharton says he will not run for Memphis mayor; issues statement

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton announced Monday that he would not run for the position of Memphis mayor.

Speculation about Wharton's mayoral intentions became a hot topic last week, when a coalition of influential Memphians, dubbed "Draft A C," issued a public plea for Wharton to run.

In a written statement Monday, Wharton said he was "grateful for the outpouring of support" that he received from the "Draft A C" movement, but that "I am in the right job at the right time to help Memphis the most."

Wharton cited "family considerations, timing, and the impact on the community" among the reasons he chose not to run.

As late as last week, Wharton said he was giving the idea of running for Memphis mayor "serious thought."

Those pushing for Wharton to run said it was like someone let the air out of a hot air balloon when they heard the news.

But, one minister behind the "Draft A C" effort says there's no time to be bitter. Reverend Bill Adkins said he'll return his full attention to his pulpit at Greater Imani.

On Sunday, Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton told Adkins he would not accept a call to run against his old friend, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, for the city's top job.

"He did have some interest in doing this, but at the 9th inning, he just decided that he would stick to his word. That he wouldn't run against Dr. Herenton," said Adkins.

Wharton and Adkins worked on Herenton's campaigns. But, after four terms, the minister said he felt Memphis needed a new direction.

He joined with other ministers, politicians and business leaders to launch the "Draft A C" campaign nine days before the filing deadline.

Political Analyst, Jackson Baker said the only time Wharton accepted such a draft was to run for county mayor.

"There have been many occasions over the years where people have asked him to run for this race, that race and he always found a reason to say no," said Baker.

Adkins said he respects Wharton's decision despite the outcome.

"I think the overwhelming response and the polls showed that people were very desirous of him running," said Adkins.

Baker added, "I think he consults with his wife, Ruby Wharton, who's a lawyer and a partner of his and I think she gives him her counsel and advice and I think he heeds it very strongly."

Adkins said perhaps the outcome will be different in the next election four years from now.

Click here to read Wharton's complete statment. (PDF file, Adobe Reader required)

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