Cloaking himself as a Democratic reform candidate, attorney Steve Mulroy’s pitch resonated with enough voters to secure the party’s nomination for Shelby County District Attorney General.
Mulroy distanced himself from two contenders – lawyers Janika White and Linda Harris – in Tuesday’s (May 3) Shelby County Primary Election, earning a shot at unseating Republican incumbent Amy Weirich in the Aug. 4 County General Election. Weirich ran opposed in the GOP Primary.
The complete, but unofficial results showed Mulroy drawing 22,123 votes, with White tallying 15,876 votes and Harris 10,055, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.
A University of Memphis law professor and former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member, Mulroy offered brief remarks about his victory and expressed future hopes for the party.
“I am honored to be the Democratic nominee. I look forward to partnering with … County Mayor (Lee) Harris, at the top of the ticket. … We will move forward with a slate of Democratic reform candidates to bring safer streets and fairer justice to Shelby County,” Mulroy said.
Mulroy partnered with (Mayor) Harris to share an election night venue and joint celebration. He said the two also shared campaign strategies.
“Lee wanted us to run a coordinated campaign,” said Mulroy. “We had weekly meetings to that end. We envision having a unified and coordinated campaign among all the Democratic candidates this summer.”
The release of early voting numbers at 7:30 p.m. heralded victory for Mulroy, who captured 46 percent of those ballots, a 13-point spread over White. Harris garnered 21 percent of the early vote.
The primaries’ voter turnout was meager on Election Day. While those results had the candidates grouped closer together, the outcome pretty much was decided by the early-vote numbers.
Linda Harris was the first to challenge Weirich as the Democratic hopeful. When White entered the race, observers projected that the two African-American, female attorneys, would split the vote in a way that would pave the way for a Mulroy win.
That concern gained merit on election night.
Although White and Linda Harris addressed supporters before final precincts had been reported, neither offered a concession.
“I want to thank Team Harris, who has been so faithful,” said Harris. “We ran a great campaign, and we will continue to have faith that God will bring us through…”
Harris reflected on an energetic year of talking with people across Shelby County during her campaign, expressing her belief that God will “somehow address the needs” that many shared with her. She also vowed to support the Democratic nominee.
White had made a previous pledge to support the Democratic nominee in the event of her loss. She prefaced remarks with expressions of thanks to family and supporters before possibly hinting at making future runs for political office.
“I am more dedicated and committed than ever to change the dynamic in which our children grow up. … I don’t know what the future holds, but … God is amazing, and I trust Him. … He will give the discernment and wisdom I need to … bring about change in our community.”
Mulroy acknowledged he and Mayor Harris hope to engineer another Democratic Party sweep in August reminiscent of the county elections four years ago.
Creating a united front of Democratic candidates is the strategy.
While other campaigns watched intently for precinct reporting, supporters of Mulroy and (Mayor) Harris came to celebrate. There was little result-watching going on.
It was a party from the first moment the doors opened. There was karaoke and impromptu stage performances, lots of laughter. An open bar and food in abundance created a festive atmosphere.
After voting numbers dropped, supporters cheered their candidates, certain that both candidates enjoyed insurmountable leads.
Mulroy was pleased with his double-digit lead but exhibited some caution.
“With the early voting numbers, it seemed pretty obvious that it was a victory,” said Mulroy. “However, I waited as long as I could to speak, because I did not want to be too presumptuous. But it was a great feeling.”
Weirich, in a distributed statement, commended Linda Harris and White for “both running a strong campaign. While we don’t always agree on all issues, I admire their desire to improve our community,” she wrote.
“Professor Mulroy on the other hand has run one of the most dishonest campaigns we have witnessed in Shelby County. He has lied about my record, the office, but most important he has lied to the people of Shelby County about his radical intentions if elected which include advocating for defunding the police and freeing violent criminals. …
“My career has been spent fighting for the victims behind these crimes while also creating innovative programs to reduce crime. I plan to keep fighting for victims and working hard to make sure the public knows how dangerous Professor Mulroy’s ideas are.”