THE BATTLE There are major and minor political battles being waged as we move towards the November general election. The most significant local race is for the Escambia County Commission District 3. That seat could control how the RESTORE funds are spent and the job future of County Administrator Randy Oliver.
Lumon May decisively won the Democratic primary with a larger percentage of the vote than the two previous commissioners for this district. He faces Hugh King, a former Pensacola City Councilman who dropped out of the Democrat Party so that he wouldn’t have to face May in the August 14 primary, and Republican newcomer Tiffany Washington.
King has had difficulty raising money and most of his campaign funds have gone to Republican political strategist, Open Market Research Inc., that also ran the campaigns of John Powell, Jim Taylor and Jesse Casey.
The “Old Guard” of the African-American community are backing him—Georgia Blackmon, John Jerralds, Ellison Bennett and Elvin McCorvey—and have been trying to set up candidate forums to give King publicity without having to spend the few funds he has given OMR.
That group of King supporters are the same ones who opposed the new city charter in 2009 and backed Mike Wiggins instead of Ashton Hayward in 2010. They hoped that Anne Walker would defeat May in August, only to see May run away with 69 percent of the vote.
May continues to knock on doors and spends time coaching his son and other kids in the Southern Youth Sports Association. He is convinced that the people of District 3 want a change and invests his time meeting, listening and asking for their vote. He has built a team—black, white, young, old, single, married, Democrat, Republican—that is positive and upbeat.
On the eve of the August primary, I stopped by May’s campaign headquarters just a few blocks from the church his father, Rev. Theophalis May, built. Nearly 50 people crowded in the living room in the house, laughing, cheering and praying for a good outcome the next day. Only incumbent Sheriff David Morgan had a better primary.
However, the race isn’t over. King is formidable because of his name recognition, the “old guard” support and his political handlers who have been known not to hesitate to sling mud.
The challenge for May will be to withstand the inevitable onslaught and rekindle the momentum that worked so well for him in August.
The game isn’t over, Coach May.