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franklin county times

Election winds blow ill for Johnson

By Staff
WAITING  Democratic candidate William Hugh Johnson and campaign adviser Harrison Lewis wait for election results at Chic's Sports on Fourth street. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
June 6, 2001
At about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Democratic mayoral nominee William Hugh Johnson sat with his elbows propped on the bar at Chic's Sports on Fourth Street.
A fan in the corner blew cool air through the building, which was closed for business and donated to Johnson for the evening. As supporters filtered through the door, they glanced up at TVs mounted behind the bar.
Johnson said he spent Tuesday morning at a Meridian City Council meeting. After lunch, he visited area shopping centers handing out cards and encouraging voters to go to the polls. He spent a lot of the afternoon and evening checking voter turnout at various city precincts.
A supporter at the end of the bar joked that the city needed to "de-annex Poplar Springs."
Johnson laughed, then turned serious.
He and his supporters, including campaign adviser Harrison Lewis, sat mulling over other races and city politics in general.
Johnson said absentee ballots, while they "may not be decisive," were an advantage for Republicans.
With the possibility of another 5 percent to 7 percent decrease in population over the next 10 years and "no accomplishable annexation" to remedy the drop, Johnson said the city could see a shift to a black majority greater than the 54 percent shown by Census 2000.
A black candidate could motivate the black vote to the extent that white candidates' split votes would not affect the race, he said.
At about 7:15 p.m., Lewis popped his arm around Johnson's shoulder and pointed to the TV as the first returns began to scroll across the screen.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.