Lumumba Rocks the House at Mayoral Debate

Chokwe Lumumba at the MC Law debate -- May 17, 2013.

Chokwe Lumumba at the MC Law debate -- May 17, 2013. Photo by Trip Burns.

With a strong lead headed into the final weekend of the 2013 Democratic race to be Jackson's next mayor, Jonathan Lee had a lot to lose and not much to gain Friday night at The Clarion-Ledger/WAPT debate at the Mississippi College School of Law's auditorium.

But what he did have to lose, he lost.

Lumumba started early and often, raising questions about Lee's business acumen, his financial and voting base, and his Rankin County roots. Lee took the walloping for about 45 minutes before trying to steer the subject matter back to the issues.

The crowd at the debate, which was not as large as the first debate that also featured incumbent Harvey Johnson Jr., Regina Quinn and Frank Bluntson, was mostly pro-Lumumba.

The back-and-forth was juicy and sometimes childish in nature, and the crowd reacted noticeably as Lumumba landed one-liner after one-liner against Lee. It got so bad that moderators had to ask the crowd to please contain themselves six times.

A few key exchanges:

• Lumumba pointed out that in 11 years of Lee running Mississippi Products, the company had suffered four default judgments stemming from lawsuits. Lee said the company had suffered one contract dispute that resulted in all four of the lawsuits, then turned the conversation to lawsuits that had been filed against the city that Lumumba represents. Lumumba said that, as a lawyer, he could explain the difference in those lawsuits and the four against Lee, that Lee just didn't even show up to defend his company in court, and that's what a default judgment was.

• Lumumba said he doesn't think Lee is a "bad guy"; he said he just needs "an opportunity to gain experience." "With the people he's aligning himself with," Lumumba said, "it's going to be hard to turn his back on those people when they come asking for things," he said, referring to Lee's heavy-Republican-leaning donors. (Lumumba also name-checked the Jackson Free Press for reporting that Lee's supporters had given $1.2 million to federal Republican candidates and PACs since 2008.)

• When Lee pressed Lumumba on his record as a City Councilman, Lumumba touted his record as an organizer and pointed to initiatives he created like the People's Assembly, a group that meets four times a year to bring city leadership to meet the citizens of Ward 2, which Lumumba represents. When Lee suggested he hadn't done enough about the crumbling streets and slow economic growth, Lumumba trivialized his position on the City Council, saying he had little power because it is a legislative body, not executive.

And so it went, with the two candidates talking over and interrupting each other to the point that one member of the crowd shouted, "Y'all are like first graders!"

In another instance, a crowd member yelled, "Moderators, please do your job!" The Clarion-Ledger's Sam Hall asked again that the audience keep their comments to themselves. "Then do your job!" the audience member responded.

The candidates went back-and-forth on the campaign ads that have been floating around the last week, including a TV ad from the Lee campaign showing what Lee called "sound bites" of Lumumba making seemingly radical statements about his Christian faith, President Barack Obama and his general feelings about police, and a radio ad from U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson politically aligning Lee with his conservative, big-money supporters.

Lee circled the wagons on his claim of being the unifying candidate, but said that 70 to 75 percent of his donations were $250 or less (which means he is not required to reveal who made them). Lumumba pointed out correctly that six of Lee's biggest supporters had given substantial money to Mitt Romney in an attempt to unseat Democratic President Barack Obama last year, drawing an audible stirring from the crowd. Lumumba refuted the charges made against him in Lee's ad, saying he was taken out of context on every count.

Both candidates closed the debate by requesting the votes of the roughly 16 to 20 percent of Jackson voters who are still undecided.

When it ended, there were audible shouts for Lumumba from the audience.

Comments

shbkyn 1 year, 4 months ago

Mr. Lumumba won the debate hands down. Now wait a ninute, you mean to tell me Lee's major backers were major donors to Romney campaign. I am shocked, but I shouldn't be, because I knew his major backers were Republicans. Mr. Lee cannot explain this away, he should be ashame of himself. A democrated candidate, major backers, were major backers of a Republican candidate for president, running against a democrat.

0

sarahmina 1 year, 4 months ago

The only childish thing about his debate was Lumumba taking Lee to "SCHOOL". It should have been abundantly clear that Mr Lee was WAY out of his league. His lack of experience and naivety is exactly why the Jackson money Republicans back him - CONTROL is the operative word ! They continue to think Black people are stupid, Tuesday we will show you that once again you are wrong. You really could have used all that money to feed the hungry or build wells in Africa, or maybe help Mr Lee pay off his judgements without "STRINGS ATTACHED" this time. I'm just say-in !!

0

JLucas 1 year, 4 months ago

Chokwe certainly dominated the debate, and Lee got an absolute shellacking. Even the Lee supporters sat there in disbelief of how badly he performed. I don’t think anyone called it a win for him. Chokwe drew upon his many years as a trial lawyer no doubt to pounce on Lee and he effectively exploited Lee’s youth and the vulnerability in his claim to be a successful businessman. I could have sworn I saw Lee wince a few times as if he was in pain as he struggled to find an opening. Even the moderators were frustrated by Lumumba's peanut gallery who sensed their man was drawing blood and doing a heck of a job. I don’t think it will erode Lee’s support, but Chokwe’s strong performance could draw a few of those undecided into his camp.

I’m still amazed at the seemingly lousy choice for the voters – a young, unremarkable businessman who appears not ready for prime-time and a former black separatist attorney-turned-politician trying to convince folks he doesn't hate whitey as much as he used to.

1

shbkyn 1 year, 4 months ago

What about all those lawmakers in Washington, especially the Republicans, they are still separatist. They don't want intergration, never have, and never will. Matter-of-fact, they want to secede from America.

0

sarahmina 1 year, 4 months ago

Why, why, & why don't you let the "hate whitey" thing GO! You've got to appreciate the difference in circumstance and events between sentiments 40 years ago and NOW! Mr Lumumba, although he is still protective of people of color and of ALL people fighting for human rights, has never "HATED WHITEY" only reacted during a period of horrific "HATRED " perpetrated by "whitey" upon People of color. Who historically has HATED FOR 600+ years! Would you have advocated for anything less during this period. Even today when African Americans are at the bottom in every societal measure, Mr Lumumba asks us to take pride in who we are and our history. Believe in our ability to address the needs in our community in responsible, creative ways that invite growth & self development. ANYONE who wants to help (all colors) are welcome to come on board.h

1

justjess 1 year, 4 months ago

@JLucas

I agree with your assessment of the Mayoral Debate that aired on WAPT last night. Lee didn't just have a bad night; He had an evening of public exposure of his lack of experience, bad choices, failing business and lack of an understanding or an appreciation for the germ that yeiled him his place and station in life.

One of your comments does cause pause, JLucas: "....trying to convince folks he doesn't hate whitey as much as he used to".

I never thought that Lumumba hated whites; I think that what he hated was the egregious behaviors or some Whites - the lynchngs, beatings, rapes, negative evaluations (especially of the Black male), unfair/unjust legal system, etc. One can hate the behavior and not necessarily the person/people.

Isn't it true that Lumumba's MOTHER is White? He speaks very lovingly about being raised in the project in Detroit with loving supportive parents. Maybe the JFP have the answer or will get the answer to this question.

0

1234 1 year, 4 months ago

Didn't this publication recently publish an article about the need for people to be bi-partisan... as in Republicans need to not despise Democrats, and vice-versa? I believe that it was shortly after the recent presidential election.

That being said, why are you harping on the fact that some of Lee's supporters are Republican? Does that really matter? I'm Democrat as well, but I truly do not care whether some of Lee's supporters happen to belong to the other party.

If you do have a problem with that, or if you happen to be the type of mayoral candidate who would use that as one of his points to paint someone as "not a true Democrat," then you are not really any different than the Tea Party.

-Jackson Democrat

0

donnaladd 1 year, 4 months ago

I believe he had a white grandfather, but will check again.

0

donnaladd 1 year, 4 months ago

1234, yes we published an article about how much of Lee's support's base is Republican. Why? Because it's NEWS when that many Republicans put that much money into a Democratic candidate in a Democratic candidate. We don't give a whit about political parties, but it is the people's right to know who is funding the candidates. It would be journalistic malpractice not to report it.

That is different from Rep. Thompson and Council Lumumba accusing Lee of not being a "true "Democrat"; that is a characterization we will leave to people more partisan than we are. That is, people have the information; they can interpret it however they want. It's their right.

0

justjess 1 year, 4 months ago

@1234 "If you do have a problem with that, or if you happen to be the type of mayoral candidate who would use that as one of his points to paint someone as "not a true Democrat," then you are not really any different than the Tea Party."

The ideations of these parties are their elements of seperation. If one pulls between both parties, they usually register as "INDEPENDENT". After all is said, this is the "DEMOCRATIC RUN-OFF". I think that it is fair game to challenge an opponent with so much Republican involvement and financial support. When much is given, much is expected. There have been many politicians here in MS who have used Democratic dollars and support to win an election. Once elected, they suddenly become Republican. Does anyone remember Mike Parker & AMY TUCK?

0

1234 1 year, 4 months ago

@JustJess. So let me get this straight, you're telling me that it is okay to blast someone for having support amongst Republicans? It also seems like you are also telling me that you cannot be a true Democrat if you are politically moderate, or "pull between both parties."

I have to respectfully disagree with you. What happened to working together for a common goal? It seems to be remarkably lacking amongst both parties. It is sad. And, to be honest, when I became a Democrat, one of the main draws is that I believed that the Democratic party lacked such intolerance. We cannot stoop to the Tea Party's level. Calls for idealogical purity will destroy this great country if we let it.

I do not hold it against Lee that he has appeal amongst people of both parties. In fact, I admire it. What I do not admire is the divisiveness of the other candidate when he stirs the pot by portraying one to be ingenuine because of his support from people across the political spectrum.

0

rebeltruth 1 year, 4 months ago

Chokwe a Separatist... I find it most amusing that Mississippi as a state was the original separatist state remember the civil war! A state that confederate currency was paper money with slaves on it. (I bet nobody brings that up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confeder... ) A state that chose a different flag, different than the American flag. A state to this very day still honors the treason of seceding and going to war becacuse of so-call economic interest of still desiring the free labor of slavery. A place where you can still go hunting for nig**** in 2011. A state and a city that has the audicity to want to point out the speck in the eye of a mayoral candidate that wanted to get away from the misconduct by law enforcement, the misconduct by local governmental agencies, the red lining of minority homeowners, the spying on civil rights officials by a certain white citizen council and Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/imagelisting.php or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereig... is somehow wrong. If you truly want to be a united state, city or community, I sugguest we in this state start by having real open dialog about history and then stop the underfunding of social programs within this state. The state and Jackson as its capital city can become a place too busy to hate but not until after it addresses it bias past. In doing so, a person can be proud of their chosen party no matter their afflication without being label in a negative manner.

0

rebeltruth 1 year, 4 months ago

To your point about having so much republican support, well party matters... when one party wants to increase the quality of life for every citizen in economics and socially and the other wants to limit access to higher quality of life and limit government as a whole there is a major difference. Just like with cooking you stir the pot to prevent something main food or vegetables from sticking to the bottom - one should stir the racial pot to keep certain people from remaining at the bottom of social and economic problems.

0

1234 1 year, 4 months ago

@rebeltruth. You may be surprised to learn that Lee supporters in fact do not want to bring back the Confederacy. In fact, I would argue that most of those people have moved to Madison or Rankin Counties.

I certainly agree with you that we should invest a great deal more heavily in teaching our children about our state's past racial struggles. It is a shame that ignorance regarding race relations (past and present) still exist here. My question to you is this: what does that have to do w/ who is mayor? I know that would have something to do w/ who is in charge of education, and yes, I get that the mayor does have some control over the functioning of our schools. However, I have to ask - you do know that the mayor does not control how much civil rights history is being taught in area schools, right??

As far as your point that party matters - it does not. Not at all. It is the individual candidate that matters. Especially when both of the contenders are actually of the same party! "Party matters" sounds like something Rick Perry would say. Don't be a Rick Perry.

0

rebeltruth 1 year, 4 months ago

My words do not imply nor suggest they would bring back the Confederacy. Your petty attempt at redirecting conversation is the only surprising thing to learn when you suggest the words don't be a Rick Perry. The fact is the mayor selects the school board. The fact is the school board selects the superintendent. The fact is the superintendent and school board has a direct effect on school curriculum and students experiences in school. Schools effect how communities develop because our citizen are products of schools in various makeups. Can you follow that simple line of logic? To the more pressing issue, financial influence is a matter most citizen would be interested in and have a right to know. You can not like that fact but that is OK. People have a right to know what party supports what candidate and what a given party position is on various issues. Your candidate can be a democrat or republican that is okay. People just have a right to know. He can be a democrat, the republicans just so happen to like and support with political donations that far out pace another candidate. But, the people should have the opportunity to know that too. Finally, let's leave the Rick Perry and his politics alone shall we... Do we really need to discuss Texas. Muchless, do we need to go into the so-call ranch issue of 2011? http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20114771-503544.html

0

1234 1 year, 4 months ago

So the mayor has a very indirect bearing on the material taught in our city schools. The mayor does not even directly select the superintendent. I don't think voting for one candidate or another will have a substantial bearing on what our next generations learn - which I will agree needs a much greater dose of civil rights history.

However, it is important to keep this in mind. Our city schools require money to run. Our children deserve better than to have a situation in which their schools are broke. We need investment in our city. I don't think lumumba would foster that investment. In fact, I think he would deter a great amount of it.

You certainly have the right to express your opinion of whatever candidate based on whatever information you like. However I also reserve the right to voice my opinion that it is unwise to judge Lee (who also happens to be a democrat who is African American) on such a minor basis.

0

rebeltruth 1 year, 4 months ago

@1234, this writer would suggest you tell me what governmental experience your guy has that would prove he has the ability to govern the City of Jackson? I see default judgments and a void regarding governing. The only big idea, I see is an ambitious guy with indirect abilities to cure some of Jackson's problems. So you can vote for your guy, I am voting for Lumumba. I sort of like to have some experience in office over a novice without government experience. Sorry, I detest the hope and feel good platitudes that is not a strategy for investment. @1234, you might be deterred by experiences but I sort of like for my elected officials to have such.

0

Duan 1 year, 4 months ago

Good debate - Chokwe did take it to Jonathan - as J Lucas stated as only a true trial lawyer could.

Rebeltruth - some interesting post there - look forward to reading more of your post in the future.

0

1234 1 year, 4 months ago

That's nice. I took a risk on President Obama when I voted for him in 2008 despite the lack of experience relative to the other guy. In the same way, I will take a risk on Lee tomorrow. I believe him to be a good candidate. See you at the polls tomorrow rebeltruth

0

darryl 1 year, 4 months ago

Here's hoping your risk-taking today turns out better than your effort in 2008.

0

Sign in to comment