Willie Herenton re-elected Memphis mayor - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Willie Herenton re-elected Memphis mayor

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Willie Herenton, Memphis' first elected black mayor, won a fifth consecutive four-year term Thursday.

Herenton, 67, beat back a challenge from City Council member Carol Chumney in one of the most contested races since his election in 1991.

According to unofficial results, Herenton had 63,748 votes or 43 percent with 81 percent of the vote counted in the nonpartisan election. Chumney, an attorney and former state representative, polled 49,199 or 34 percent.

Herman Morris, former president of Memphis Light, Gas & Water, the city's publicly owned utility company, had 31,247 votes or 21 percent.

There is no runoff law in Memphis so it took only a plurality to win

Chumney, 46, who is white, sought to become the first female mayor of the city. She served 13 years in the Tennessee House, where she was chairwoman of the Children and Family Affairs Committee.

Her campaign slogan was "For the people, for a change." She has been a city councilwoman for the past four years.

Morris, 56, who is black, is an attorney. There were 14 candidates.

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 in June by 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.

In 2005, Herenton acknowledged that he fathered a child by a former girlfriend half his age.       Pre-election polls had the race a statistical dead heat.

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton rejected a call by a citizens' group, led by two well-known pastors, to become a candidate.

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

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