It's among the truest of political idioms: No matter how popular or effective you are in elected office, "You can't please all of the people all of the time."
That's why, if you happen to be maverick Shelby County Commission Chairman Mike Ritz, even a threat to be the subject of a local recall petition and talk of excommunication from the Tennessee Republican Party doesn't exactly make him cower in fear. It could provide him with a chance to politically turn scrambled eggs into an omelet as a potential candidate for Shelby County mayor.
"Running as an Independent, it becomes very attractive because I would gain a good number of votes out of suburbs and not everybody thinks the way these folks do," Ritz said. "Quite frankly, a huge number of people in Memphis; a huge number of people."
As Ritz sees it, his possible ouster from the local GOP, as recommended by angered county Republican stalwarts during a convention on Sunday, wasn't totally unexpected considering his continued opposition to the creation of suburban municipal school districts.
The Anti-Ritz faction, led by party vice-chair, Mick Wright, insists there are other issues, including Ritz's advancement of a county sales tax hike and numerous votes cast with the Democratic majority on the commission. Ritz rebuts the catalyst for his proposed ouster from his District 1 seat remains the "one trick pony" of the schools.
"The suburbs are so Republican and the suburbs are so municipal school district oriented, it's all a lot of the same sort of people supporting the same position. But, there's nothing Republican about this public school situation."
Yet, ousting an elected official through a recall petition drive conjures up long odds for success. It would take 20,000 signatures gathered over a 75 day period to initiate a special election confined to the district with at least a 50 percent turnout.
There is one more glaring fact of life.
"That seat's up for election in the 2014 elections anyway," says Bill Dries with the Memphis Daily News. "So, I think a lot of people are going to look at this effort and are going to say, well, someone new is going to be holding that seat just around the corner."
With his name recognition, a three-way race for county mayor could be a tasty proposition for voters.
"If it's successful. If I do run next year, being thrown out of the Republican Party and then having to run as an Independent that's a pretty good position to be in," Ritz said.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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