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Political Roundup: Early voting hits 20,000; Jason Martin campaigns in Collierville

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 26, 2022 11:06 AM CT | Published: October 24, 2022 2:09 PM CT
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Nearly 21,000 Shelby County voters cast early ballots in the first four days of the early voting period for the Nov. 8 election day.

The Shelby County Election Commission numbers through Saturday, Oct. 22, show Harmony Church in Bartlett with the highest turnout of any of the 26 locations with 2,014 voters, followed by New Bethel Baptist Church in Germantown at 1,909 and Compassion Church in Collierville at 1,802.

The 20,973 early voters is the highest total of any of the state’s 95 counties according to turnout numbers from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. The Shelby County early vote through Saturday is 11.7% of the statewide total of 178,182.


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Knox County posted the next highest turnout of 15,467 for the same period.

Democrats in Collierville

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Martin campaigned in Collierville over the weekend along with local Democratic contenders in the predominantly Republican suburb.

“I would not have told you six months ago or a year ago that this was a winnable race that I was running,” Martin told a group of 30 who gathered at the pavilion in Nikki McCray Park Saturday, Oct. 22, before canvassing the surrounding neighborhoods.

Martin said Gov. Bill Lee has given his challenge new life.

“He’s a radical. He’s a radical on public education,” he said. “He’s the wrong person to be at the helm of the state of Tennessee. … The way we win this race is by individual contact.”


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Martin is expected to carry Shelby County — which is majority Democratic — when the votes are counted Nov. 8.

However, Lee is heavily favored to win what is a predominantly red — or Republican — state as well as carry the Republican suburbs in Shelby County, including Collierville, that are an important part of the statewide vote.

But Shelby County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gabby Salinas said there are votes and political inroads for Democrats in Collierville and the other suburbs.

“There are Democrats in Collierville,” she told the group at the park Saturday armed with a “minivan app” showing doors to be knocked on that are likely Democratic voters.

The local Democratic party ballot packaged as a door hanger for the canvassing also included candidates for the Collierville school board as well as the Collierville board of alderman — nonpartisan races.

The larger Democratic ballot also includes candidates in the Bartlett municipal elections.


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“Tennessee is a red state,” Salinas acknowledged. “But we want to change that.”

Salinas prioritized running Democratic candidates for municipal offices in the suburban towns and cities — a departure from the local party’s past strategy.

Candidates Chelsea Glass, who is running for Collierville school board, and Emily Fulmer, who is running for Collierville alderman, are the tip of the spear in bringing Democratic voters out into the open.

“This has been really hard,” said Glass, who is one of four candidates seeking the school board seat held by Frank Warren, who is not seeking another term. “It feels like a fight for our lives.”

Salinas said it’s important that Collierville voters see Democrats who live in Collierville knocking on their doors in the push for votes.


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“They are the one that live in this community. They are the ones that know what problems are being faced here,” Salinas told The Daily Memphian.

“I think there are a lot more voters out there than people realize that are waiting to get engaged – Democrat and Republican,” she said. “But, especially for me, where I’ve been focused is people that don’t vote, people that seldom vote and obviously Democratic voters.”

Republican candidates in the August county elections have struggled with the same problems for different reasons.

Some Republicans blamed the local party’s strategy of mostly uncontested county primaries on the May ballot.

The local Republican strategy in August depended on keeping Republican turnout in the general election’s early voting at around 40%. After the first few days at 42%, Democratic turnout surged in the early voting total and by election day, Republican turnout was well below that figure. And the early voted accounted for more than half of the total August election turnout — absentee, early and election day.


Emily Fulmer to challenge incumbent Collierville alderwoman


Fulmer is challenging Alderwoman Missy Marshall in the nonpartisan Collierville elections.

For several years, Fulmer has been among the leader of a Democratic strategy in the suburbs, founding the Collierville Democrats organization.

Fulmer is running, in part, to challenge the set of at-large or citywide alderman or commission seats that Collierville and the other suburban towns and cities use as the structure for their legislative bodies and school boards.

There are no district seats on either in any of the six suburban towns and cities.

“That white majority of conservative voters on the north side of the tracks — they get to choose every alderman because it’s at-large,” she said. “I’m running because I care about the people on the south side of town who can never get representation.”


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The Memphis City Council had six at-large seats on the 13-member body until a 1991 federal court decision that held the intent of the 1967 city charter setting up the mayor-council form of government was to prevent Black candidates from being able to get a majority on the council.

The at-large seats weren’t challenged until a lawsuit was filed in 1988 by Talib-Karim Muhammad.

Muhammad’s challenge was combined in federal court with the later legal challenge to the city’s run-off requirement in the mayor’s race.

The council replaced the at-large seats with “super district” seats in the 1995 city elections – each district taking in half of the city with three positions per super district.

U.S. District Judge Jerome Turner approved the decision and Memphis voters ratified it as an amendment to the city charter.

Topics

Nov 8 2022 election early voter turnout 2022 collierville election Shelby County Democratic Party

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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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