Shelby GOP Mulls Endorsements

Last night I attended the monthly Shelby GOP Steering committee meeting. The topic was the selection of candidates for the party to endorse.

On the way in I ran into Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir and thanked him for coming by our meeting Tuesday night. I expressed my appreciation for the good job he’s doing and worries that his successor needs to be good, too. Lenoir said he was scouting for someone who would make a good replacement.

The meeting was thick with politicians and those seeking office. They came to ask for an endorsement from the Shelby GOP. Chairman Mary Wagner allowed each two minutes to speak.

First up, Jim Strickland took the floor. He thanked Joy Touliatos who is one of his campaign co-chairmen. “We have the wind at our back,” Strickland said. “Most Memphians want change. We all want safe neighborhoods and clean streets. We’ve gone from fifth in the nation in crime to third; to worst in unemployment; and risen to 28% in poverty.

“I have three things I want to do. 1: Drastically reduce crime. There’s nothing I’ll focus on more. 2: Clean up blight and litter. 3: For the first time ever we’ll measure our accomplishments and hold city government accountable.

“I ask for prayers, for your support and your vote,” Strickland concluded.

The only other mayoral candidate there was Sharon Webb. However, she greeted people at the door, handed out her cards and left before the meeting began.

Frank Colvett, who is seeking the District 2 position, said he is a lifelong resident. He noted that “a lot of good leaders have left, so I jumped in the race.” He pointed out that David Kustoff and Joyce Avery are on his campaign.

Two candidates for the District 5 City Council seat were present: Worth Morgan and Dan Springer.

Morgan said he would focus on fighting crime and responsible budget management. He explained that he had been a Young Republican, worked in the Bush White House as an intern and is a Redstate Pac member. Morgan said he respects Dan Springer and hoped the Steering Committee would make a dual endorsement of him and Springer, given the number of candidates in the District 5 race. He also said that he had the support of State Senator Brian Kelsey and Maida Pearson Smith.

By contrast, Dan Springer asked the committee only endorse him. He mentioned that he worked previously for Senator Bob Corker and for Mayor Luttrell. Springer said he’s running “because I believe Memphis can be great.”

Kemp Conrad, seeking reelection to his District 9-1 City Council seat, said he has worked the polls. “I know how people go down the ballot from the Shelby GOP and vote for their endorsements.” He said he has endorsed Jim Strickland, Bill Morrison and Philip Spinosa.

Lynn Moss, in the race for District 9-2, could not be present, a representative said, because she was involved in a neighborhood meeting on crime. He noted that she had always been a supporter of the party, serving as third vice chair on the steering committee and active in party events. She would demand accountability and would call for a city audit.

Her competitor, Philip Spinosa, was in attendance. He noted he has addressed many of the clubs, emphasizing integrity, hard work and accountability. David Kustoff and Amy Weirich have come out for him, he said.

Lastly current City Council man Reid Hedgespeth spoke. He said he had not been interested in politics 7 and a half years ago. But Jack Sammons got him involved and he became active in the Shelby GOP. “The board endorsed me on the 2007 ballot and I won by 7,000 votes. That’s how important these endorsements are.” He is hoping to win reelection in District 9-3.

The Shelby GOP will announce endorsements shortly and they will be posted here.

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