Herenton faces 15 challengers for Memphis mayor

MEMPHIS , Tenn. (AP) - Fifteen candidates are signed up to challenge Mayor Willie Herenton's re-election in October, with at least two expected to launch serious campaigns.

Herenton, 67, the city's first elected black mayor, is seeking a fifth consecutive four-year term.

Herenton's strongest challenges are expected to come from City Council member Carol Chumney and Herman Morris, former president of Memphis Light, Gas & Water, the city's publicly owned utility company.

Qualifying for the election ended Thursday afternoon, with no major, surprise candidates getting in the race. Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton rejected a call by a citizens' group, led by two well-known pastors, to become a candidate.

Herenton took over City Hall in 1991 by beating a popular incumbent by 142 votes in the closest mayor's race in Memphis history.

Since then he has easily won re-election. Herenton set off a citywide stir last month in announcing his belief that a group of rich, white businessmen had tried to set him up for a sex scandal.

He refused to name his alleged enemies but said he was told by a former nightclub waitress that she was paid $150,000 to seduce him and videotape their sexual encounter.

The woman's claims are under investigation by Memphis police and the state prosecutor's office.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)