Campaign letter from Republican State Senate candidate sparks controversy

Campaign letter from Republican State Senate candidate sparks controversy
Published: Aug. 21, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Elections for State Senate in Tennessee are less than three months away.

In Shelby County, Republican Candidate for District 31, Brent Taylor, sent a fundraising letter to constituents, saying in part that he would be a candidate who would keep newly elected District Attorney Steve Mulroy accountable.

“What people in Shelby County don’t want to see happen is what’s happened in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago,” Taylor said in an interview with Action News 5.

The letter refers to a new law that was passed in November during a special session of the TN General Assembly, which would allow the Attorney General the authority to appoint a special prosecutor to go into a district and prosecute cases the legislature feels the D.A. there isn’t pursuing.

A campaign letter sent by Republican nominee for TN Senate District 31 says, in part, that he...
A campaign letter sent by Republican nominee for TN Senate District 31 says, in part, that he would use a state law to keep the newly elected Shelby County District Attorney in check.(WMC)

“D.A.-elect Mulroy may decide he wants to make certain offenses a low priority,” Taylor said. “(Mulroy) campaigned on a progressive criminal justice reform platform, and there are people who are concerned about what that may look like.”

Taylor says he is against Mulroy’s outspoken push for bail reform in Shelby County.

He says, if elected, he would be the lone Republican Senator who could have a voice to the AG to raise these concerns he has of a “soft on crime” approach to criminal justice.

Mulroy and Taylor have a history of serving as Shelby County Commissioners together.

“We all want him to be successful, me included, and I want to help him do that any way that I can. I also want to be in a position to hold him accountable.,” said Taylor.

“There’s just a group of Republicans who are just not in touch with the rest of Shelby County,” said Taylor’s opponent in the upcoming race, Ruby Powell-Dennis.

Powell-Dennis said she was surprised when she saw the language of his letter, saying her opponent is involved enough in the community to know rhetoric like what’s in the letter would backfire.

“He would know that D.A. Mulroy just announced his transition team, and it includes Representative Mark White, who as we all know is a Republican,” Powell-Dennis said.

On top of this, the Democratic nominee says she attended many of the debates between Mulroy and then-incumbent Amy Weirich, saying she’s more aware of Mulroy’s platform and intentions than her opponent.

“You need to be present to hear that conversation, and I didn’t once bump into Brent Taylor,” said Powell-Dennis. “You need to be present and be a part of the community before you start to talk about what you think are the best issues.”

She sees different approaches to addressing crime and the subsequent prosecutions than going to the state’s top prosecutor to appoint a special prosecutor.

Taylor sees the letter as harmless.powe

“Anyone who doesn’t mind being held accountable shouldn’t mind the letter that we mailed out,” he said. “It doesn’t take anything away from the D.A., locally, but it just says, ‘Look, if you’re not going to concentrate on these offenses, we’re going to have a special prosecutor who will.’”

In a statement on Sunday, Mulroy responded to Taylor’s letter.

Elections are November 8th.

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