Shelby County Commissioner James Harvey is ducking out of the race for Memphis mayor - at least for now.
Harvey, a first-term commissioner, had initially announced his intention to seek the office. But today he said he's decided not to run in the Oct. 15 special election and will instead set his focus on winning the Memphis mayor's race in 2011.
Of the many reasons Harvey cited, starting fresh in 2011 would better enable him to leave his mark without having to clean up after Willie Herenton's administration.
"I didn't want to come behind someone who left such a stain on the office that it would be virtually impossible for the person to do well in the next year and a half," said Harvey, who created a stir when he told The Commercial Appeal about a July meeting with candidate and County Mayor A C Wharton, insinuating that Wharton had asked him not to run for mayor.
Harvey said after watching so many people jump in the election, he realized he had no desire to compete in such a crowded field. The filing deadline is Thursday and already 17 candidates have joined the race.
"I don't see any value in vying for a seat in such a crowded race," Harvey said. "You get lost in the shuffle. Even when you're good at what you do, with that many people in the race, you tend to be discredited and not really viewed for your full potential when you have that much going on at one time."
Harvey said the extra time will also give him more room to campaign without personal and professional distractions. He's graduating Oct. 11 from the University of Phoenix with a degree in business management.
Harvey said he plans to make his withdrawal formal in a press conference Wednesday outside the Shelby County Government building, 160 N. Main.