Brown defeats Boyd in General Sessions Court Clerk race

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 06, 2020 11:59 PM CT | Published: August 06, 2020 10:49 PM CT

In a battle Thursday, Aug. 6, between two former elected officials for the only countywide position on the August ballot, General Sessions Court Clerk, it was the former Memphis City Council member over the former Probate Court Clerk.

Joe Brown, who left the Memphis City Council last year with term limits and ran unsuccessfully in 2019 for City Court Clerk, beat Paul Boyd, who lost a bid for re-election two years ago in a larger Democratic sweep of countywide offices from Republicans.

<strong>Joe Brown</strong>

Joe Brown

With all 166 precincts countywide reporting, the unofficial totals showed Brown with 64,230 votes to 42,073 for Boyd.

In an unusual general election campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boyd and Brown worked limited campaigns in terms of canvassing and door-to-door campaigning. 

The result was a race based largely on sheer name recognition.

Brown, who was a City Council member for 21 years, succeeds outgoing Democratic Clerk Ed Stanton, who decided not to seek re-election.

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His victory is the latest for a resurgent local Democratic party in countywide elections.

After Republicans swept countywide offices in the 2010 and 2014 county elections, Democrats took them all back in 2018.

The clerk’s position is the only countywide position that is not in the same election cycle with the other countywide offices.

Republicans cautiously hoped the race might be a toehold to regaining at least some of the positions in the 2022 elections. But party leaders also acknowledged the lone race for what is an obscure courthouse position to most voters wouldn’t be a reliable barometer of 2022 even if Boyd won.

The clerk’s office is the largest of its kind in the state, overseeing court records, orders and payments for 15 civil and criminal divisions as well as a set of judicial commissioners.

Boyd had the more public of the two campaigns up to Thursday’s election day, with a strategy of appearing at a circuit of backyard parties with social distancing.

Brown relied on poll workers, signs from his 2019 campaign with the new position he was seeking over the old position he wanted and his more recent political service on the council.


Joe Brown Paul Boyd General Sessions Court Clerk

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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