As a fellow Dem, mayor should give Melton boost

Decisions, decisions

Johnson, who defeated two-term incumbent Kane Ditto in 1997, has been evasive about whether he will support Melton.

“I haven’t made up my mind about that,” said Johnson, a Democratic National Committee member. “I don’t see any dust flying. No TV spots. No radio spots.

“I support the Democratic Party, no question about that.”

During the primary campaign, Johnson questioned whether Melton was a true Democrat or someone who was affiliated with the party out of convenience.

But Ditto did not hesitate in his decision to back Johnson, voicing support in his concession speech. Johnson defeated Republican Charlotte Reeves in the general election.

Melton sounded perplexed by Johnson’s stance.

“I’ve reached out as much as I can. I’ve done everything to be cordial and respectful, but he won’t even speak to me,” said Melton, former director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

‘A reasonable person’

Melton also said, if elected, his offer for Johnson to join his administration was still on the table. But Melton can forget about Johnson coming to work for him.

“I didn’t take his offer serious (in February) and I don’t take it serious now,” Johnson said Monday. “The only way I would stay on with the city would be as mayor.”

Endorsing his primary opponent, however, is a different matter. At this point, it doesn’t matter that Melton doesn’t have a 20-year record as a Democrat or that he first voted in Hinds County in 2003.

What should matter to high-profile Democrats like Johnson is that the party’s rank and file chose Melton as the nominee for mayor.

Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy seems to understand that. “I’ve always known Harvey Johnson to be a reasonable person,” Dowdy said Monday.

“I am going to ask that he publicly and enthusiastically endorse Frank Melton’s candidacy for mayor. I would be surprised if he doesn’t.

“We are doing everything we can to bring the party together after a spirited primary, but the primary is over and Frank Melton is our nominee.”

Dowdy’s dialogue with Johnson should be interesting.

Eric Stringfellow
Clarion Ledger
5/24/5