Regardless of whether voters see the old Johnson or a new one, it would be a mistake to view him as irrelevant.
For starters, Johnson, the city’s former two-term mayor, is no quitter.
He lost a 1985 City Council race to Louis Armstrong, the 1993 mayor’s race to Ditto before finally being elected mayor in 1997 and re-elected in 2001.
Money will not be as critical to Johnson as it could be for other candidates. He has something that several will be trying to buy, which is name recognition. If Mayor Frank Melton is not in the race, Johnson will be the most recognizable candidate on the ballot. And Johnson is a full-time candidate, having resigned his post at Jackson State University to direct all his energies toward the mayor’s race.
For sure, there are plenty of quality candidates in this race.
Crisler has paid his dues and makes a compelling case that this is his time. State Sen. John Horhn offers a wealth of political skills and has key state government connections. And Eddie Fair surprised a lot of people with his ouster of the incumbent Hinds County tax collector two elections ago.
But Johnson’s credentials are just as good as anyone and would be one of only two candidates with a city-wide base.