I wanted to get this on the record.
I think you are going to see two or three real candidates withdraw from the Jackson mayoral election by April 15. The potential for embarassment is very high to have current and former elected officials get skunked with a single digit percentage vote tally may be too much for fragile egos to bear.
On the Democrat side, I think there are only a few real contenders (in alphabetical order just to protect the innocent). The rest are just pretenders.
Councilman Marshand Crisler
Hinds County Tax Collector Eddie Fair
Senator John Horhn
Fmr. Mayor Harvey Johnson
Fmr. Police Chief Robert Johnson
Mayor Frank Melton (i)
Former DA Faye Peterson (and she just barely made the list)
If the Democrat Executive Committee is successful in their jihad against Melton’s qualification (notice they laid 4 years dormant on the all important residency issue they care so much about), then that’s certainly a game changer. However, fighting Melton does two things. First, it makes him a martyr. Second, it continues to suck all the air out of the room for earned media for the other candidates. The likelihood that Melton will remain on the D ballot is high. I mean, it’s going to be hard for a judge to rule against the fact that the mayor of a city is not actually a resident. It just doesn’t pass the straight face test, and no judge is going to want to get (a) overruled by the MSSC or (b) live in the center of an election controversy.
Candidates are scrambling desperately to raise money, but there are no takers. And with “all-Melton-all-the-time” press coverage, there is no room in the headlines for anyone else. As a result, you have the real chance of an otherwise viable candidate having no money, no base, and no press coverage. Even if it becomes a straight up referendum on Melton, there are four or five real candidates scrambling for the leftover votes. 30% of the primary vote will surely get someone in a runoff. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Some internal polls are already circulating, and a couple of candidates are circulating their own poll results to try to prove to potential campaign contributors that they’re viable (that’s never a good sign). I think candidates are going to start realistically thinking about whether or not they have a chance to do well. Ultimately, I think some candidates will spare themselves the embarassment of a poor showing and drop out if the money or grass roots support is not really there. I don’t know who will fall off first, but I’d be surprised if some folks didn’t get out and clean up the field pretty soon.