On Wednesday, the day before the "election of the century," Lennox Valley was captivated by the series of events that had transpired the previous night.
The Hometown News front page photo of Elbert Lee Jones rushing the stage, being held back by Marvin Walsh and two other Cooper supporters, summed up the evening pretty well.
The story to the left of the photo was just as compelling. Results of a poll by the Spring County League of Women Voters indicated Raymond Cooper’s coronation wasn’t as sure as many thought.
Raymond still held a significant lead with 39 percent support in the poll. Current Mayor "Silver Tongue" Dick Bland was nine points behind. It was that undecided vote which had Cooper concerned.
Without Stoughton, he would easily pick up enough undecided votes to reach a majority, but Juliet’s entrance into the race changed things.
Cooper wasn’t concerned about Juliet beating him. It was obvious she wouldn’t be one of two candidates in a run-off, assuming things went that far. She could, however, force the race to continue for another week, subjecting Raymond to another week of campaigning while he watched his lead decline with each passing day.
It would take more than a last-minute entry into the race to frighten Raymond Cooper. He always had a plan.
Cooper began his show with the usual rendition of "I’m Proud to be an American," followed by a prayer taken verbatim from his "Book of Famous Prayers." It was an especially powerful prayer to kick off the Wednesday show, including some words from Psalm 109: "They surround me and say hateful things; they attack me for no reason. They repay my love with accusations, but I continue to pray."
In a late night meeting with his "advisers," Marvin Walsh and Farley Puckett, who would serve as Raymond’s guest on Wedesday’s show, Cooper hatched a plan.
"Issues!" shouted Raymond. "We need more issues."
The trio whittled down a list of a dozen or so compelling issues to three. On Wednesday’s show, Raymond didn’t waste any time bringing those issues to light.
"Dick Bland has run this city through fear and intimidation for too long," Raymond shouted into the microphone. "That is going to stop when I am mayor. Just like everyone has a voice on this show, every citizen of Lennox Valley will finally have a voice in government when I am mayor."
Rhonda Goodman was in the chair at Caroline’s Beauty Salon when Juliet Stoughton, candidate for mayor, walked in. Juliet was carrying a stack of flyers and asked Caroline if she could put one in her front window that looked out over Bearden’s Corner. Caroline told her to place as many as she wanted in the window.
Juliet seemed relieved. "I haven’t had much luck. Most folks won’t let me put them in their windows. They always say they have a policy against political flyers, even though they usually have one of Raymond Cooper or Dick Bland in their windows."
Rhonda asked to see the flyer, then read the words aloud: "Mayoral Candidate Juliet Stoughton will appear on Bearden’s Corner today at 4:00 to share her vision for Lennox Valley with the public."
At that moment, "Renderings with Raymond" was back on the air after a commercial break for Massengale Funeral Home. All three ladies paused to hear how Raymond would begin his second hour.
Before Cooper could do more than welcome listeners back, Farley chimed in, "It’s hard for me to believe," his volume rising, "that anyone would vote for that woman."
Cooper responded, "She’ll get a few votes. She’s probably made a few friends in town, and women might be quicker to fall for her nonsense."
"I suppose you’re right, as usual," answered Puckett. "Thank goodness most of our Valley women aren’t stupid enough to vote for her."
"Dick Bland has been a barefaced puppet of the elite media for too long!" shouted Cooper. "It’s pure and simple socialism." He continued, "And a vote for that woman is a shameless wasted vote!"
"I’ll be there at 4," Rhonda told Julia after catching her breath."
Caroline chimed in, "Me, too. Can I have a few of those flyers?"
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