Democrats celebrated a spectacular night Thursday (Aug. 4) as a repeat performance of 2018’s blue wave rolled over the Shelby County general election.
Democrats swept the county’s elected offices for mayor, sheriff, district attorney general, court clerks, Shelby County clerk, assessor of property, trustee, and register of deeds.
And even though it is a nonpartisan position, a Democrat beat the incumbent Juvenile Court judge.
Three of the most contentious races united three top Democrats to victory:
- Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, in a re-election bid.
- Former county commissioner and law professor Steve Mulroy, challenger of District Attorney General Amy Weirich.
- City Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon, vying a second time for the Juvenile Court judge’s seat.
The three appeared together at press conferences and other campaign events, promising to make “a real change” if all three were elected.
The strategy was a good one, according to Upthevote901 founder, the Rev. Dr. Earle J. Fisher.
“This second blue wave means something much bigger has taken place,” said Fisher.
“We have witnessed a momentous shift in the progressive landscape of Shelby County. This second blue wave means that a Republican can no longer win a countywide race.”
Early Thursday evening, Weirich’s supporters gathered at an East Memphis venue, where pizza and chips fueled quiet conversation. A seated few watched the projected image of local news and chatted quietly.
“Clearly, Amy Weirich has an uphill battle,” said Bill Boyd, a former Shelby County assessor of property and campaign volunteer.
“But she is absolutely the right person for DA in these next eight years. She is who Shelby County needs.”
Meanwhile, concern grew over the fact that no local returns had been released by 9 p.m.
“The early voting and absentee numbers should be released by now,” Mulroy told hundreds who waited at the Harris-Mulroy-Sugarmon headquarters near the corner of Poplar Avenue and Highland Street.
“There is no reason not to have early voting numbers out by now.”
Harris also addressed the crowd, sending a message to the Shelby County Election Commission while news cameras rolled.
“The longer it takes for the election commission to release early voting numbers, the more suspicious this looks,” Harris said. “We are putting everyone on notice that the election commission has asked precincts not to post findings, but to let the count be done there.
“Also, we have sent representatives to observe the count, but they have not been allowed inside. We want that known.”
Mulroy said the action was “extraordinary and unprecedented.” Democrats expected that early voting bode well for Democrats, who requested the Democratic primary ballot more than 22,000 times over requests for the Republican primary ballot.
Local Democratic principal Gale Jones Carson, who was not at headquarters, said the delay in releasing early voting numbers should raise concerns.
“Early voting numbers are usually available before eight,” said Carson. “If these results continue to be withheld, a greater sense of impropriety will increase. Even the appearance of impropriety causes concern.”
Linda Phillips, Shelby County elections administrator, told media outlets later that some voting equipment was brought to the operations center at Shelby Farms without running and posting a tape of the results at the precinct due to paper jams in the election equipment.
By 9:25 p.m., the first early voting numbers were being posted on live news election coverage.
After numbers for the DA, county mayor, and juvenile court judge races were dropped, a jubilant celebration ensued at the trio’s headquarters. As additional precinct numbers were added, it became apparent that Dems would own the night.
As Mulroy’s lead grew, the mood at Weirich’s camp became more somber. By 11 p.m., Weirich trailed Mulroy by more than 11,000 votes, with 76 percent of the precincts reporting.
Weirich announced she would not concede until all the precincts were in. She thanked supporters for their hard work and encouraged them to “go on home and get some rest.”
By 1:30 a.m., all three Democrats had been declared winners.
Stats for the top two contenders for each race are as follows:
Shelby County Mayor
Lee Harris – 77,140 – 57.91 percent
Worth Morgan – 56,072 – 42.09 percent
Shelby County District Attorney
Steve Mulroy – 74,940 – 56.13 percent
Amy Weirich – 58,582 – 43.87 percent
Juvenile Court Judge
Tarik Sugarmon – 52,360 – 43.86 percent
Dan Michael – 39,974 – 33.48 percent