Dwight DeBerry, a convicted armed robber and nephew of the late Tennessee State Rep. Lois DeBerry, who passed away July 28, won't get his chance to run for his aunt's House seat.
The Shelby County Election Commission has decertified him from the Oct. 8 special primary election.
Special election! At least that's the official designation for the Democratic primary that will choose a candidate to fill the vast void left by the death Rep. DeBerry, the former District 91 Tennessee Legislative lioness who died July 28 at the age of 68 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
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But, with early voting beginning next Wednesday, Sept. 18, and election day on Oct. 8, there seems to be little attention being paid to it, neither by the candidates or the voters.
"Most voters in that district I would dare say don't even know that there's an election coming up," said Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News reporter. "They're probably just finding out about it."
But, one act of discovery has officially knocked one out of the eventual seven-person field. Dwight DeBerry, a nephew of the late legislator who'd hoped to potentially draft some votes off name recognition, has been "decertified" as a candidate by the Shelby County Election Commission.
The reason? It dates back to multiple felony convictions that sent DeBerry behind bars for years. Yet, he still filed to run for office by the Aug. 29 deadline, until his paperwork came bouncing back to the election commission.
"The Tennessee Department of Corrections informed us he had been convicted of a felony," said Richard Holden, Shelby county Election Commission Administrator. "He was convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery in 1992. To be qualified as a candidate the person must have their voting rights restored and their citizenship rights restored by a federal court."
FOX13 News attempted reach DeBerry for comment, but to no avail. Yet, his avoidance of the press is apparently shared by the rest of the field in the race as well. At least so far. The Democratic primary winner is almost assured of taking the District 91 seat in a special Nov. 21 general election against no Republican opposition and a Libertarian independent candidate.
Three female contenders, including a certain former city council candidate, would seem to lead the pack.
"I understand politics is a strange game," said Kemba Ford in 2011, a former Memphis council candidate. "I choose to play. I choose to play with dignity, grace and honor."
"Kemba Ford definitely has the most name recognition and that is going to be an overwhelming factor in this race," Dries said. "Because it's a special election there's a very short time frame on this. Terica Lamb, Ms. Akbarai - who I think is enjoying some support from State Rep. Barbara Cooper. I'll be interested in seeing what vote totals they get."
I'm still wondering, when and who are finally going to make this election "special?"