Jerry Lawler has been called “The King” for over 30 years. Over the course of his career, he’s been called “Champion” over a hundred times. Now, he wants to be called something else: the Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. Recently, the candidate sat down with SLAM! Wrestling to discuss his campaign.
Lawler, who was born and raised in Memphis, is hoping to bring a major change to the government, which he believes is failing the city’s residents.
“I think we, as citizens of Memphis, deserve more from our elected officials than we’ve had for the past few decades,” he said during an autograph signing at the September 6th Dragon Gate show in Chicago. “I think that most of the people in Memphis are pretty much fed up with high property taxes that our politicians keep voting for, and they’re pretty much fed up with the political rhetoric and the political graft and greed that we have down there in Memphis. So hopefully they’ll try something different.”
The big difference that Lawler offers is that he isn’t a career politician. As an outsider to the political arena, Lawler feels he will be able to govern City Hall without any other personal agenda for political advancement.
“Unfortunately, common sense is pretty uncommon in politicians,” he half-quipped. “If (people) keep voting for these career politicians as they have been doing, we’re only going to end up in the same place — mired in a bunch of muck. There will be about 28 candidates that are going to be on the ballot on October 15th. The majority of those people are career politicians. I’m in the race to try to bring some common sense to the city government. I’m in there as somebody who will bring a real change.”
Lawler’s WWE broadcast colleague Jim Ross agrees with the view that career politicians can be counter-productive to the electorate.
“I think professional politicians have gotten the United States and many of its cities many of their problems and have facilitated many of those issues,” said Ross emphatically. “Jerry is the farthest thing from being a professional politician. He’s just a local guy who loves his community and wants to help it improve.”
What Lawler doesn’t want is for people to believe that his campaign is simply a novelty act, or dismiss his concern for his city as a disingenuous wrestling angle. Rather, he wants people to realize what his accomplishments in the wrestling industry say about his ability to succeed in the world of business, and by extension, what he can bring to the Mayor’s office.
“A lot of the other politicians try to minimize my campaign by saying this guy’s been a wrestler all his life,” he acknowledged. “I’m certainly not ashamed of the fact that I’ve been a wrestler. But more than being a wrestler, I’ve run a wrestling company. In 1977, I walked in off the streets of Union Avenue, went into the television station WMC channel 5, asked to meet the general manager and asked him, ‘Would you like me to bring a wrestling program to your TV station?’ He agreed, and we formed what would become one of the most successful wrestling companies in the world.
“Twenty years later,” he said proudly, “I sold that company for two million dollars. So, I know what it’s like to run a business, I’ve made budgets, I’ve met payrolls, dealt with individuals and families and different egos. One of the first things I learned running that business is that you can’t spend more money than you take in. Unfortunately, our city politicians don’t think that way. They think they know how to spend our money better than we do. So they raise our taxes, keep taking our money, leave us less of our own money in our pockets, and basically we don’t know what happens to our money after they take it. Basically, that’s what this race is all about.”
Beyond simply excessive government spending by the current government, Lawler pointed at Memphis’ troubling crime rates as the most important issue of this election.
“Crime can absolutely cripple a city, it can destroy a city. Forbes Magazine just came out with an issue last month that listed the top 15 most dangerous cities to live in in America. Memphis was number two on the list. When people don’t feel safe in their own city, they’re all victims. It robs us of our sense of security, our peace of mind, and it robs the city of its livability. The crime is the reason people are moving out of Memphis at a record pace instead of moving in. Crime is what keeps industry from coming in. So we’ve got a job ahead of us.”
Lawler has already sketched out a plan of action to address the problem, details of which can be found on his official campaign websites, JerryLawler2009.com and LawlerforMayor.com, which draw on the successful strategy employed by Rudy Giuliani when he was Mayor of New York.
“New York used to be the most dangerous city in America, and in that Forbes list, they weren’t even in the top 15 anymore,” observed Lawler. “You’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to have more police on the street, you’ve got to have community precincts. Basically, in this country we have a war on terrorism. If I get elected as Mayor of Memphis, we’re going to have a war on crime.”
While Lawler may have an answer to that question, another thing WWE fans want to know is whether or not the election results would impact his involvement with wrestling. If he wins, Lawler doesn’t believe he would give up his spot as announcer of RAW. He noted that, unlike the current Mayor, who has had about nine other non-city-related business interests during his 17 years in office, Lawler’s time on TV could actually be used to help the city of Memphis.
“RAW, is the most watched show in all of cable television,” Lawler said. “WWE programming is seen worldwide on 489 million homes every week. More people watch WWE programming than watch the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Football League combined. I think that that two hours a week that I’m on there gives me the unique opportunity to be an ambassador for Memphis. It’s almost like a two-hour commercial for the city while I’m on there. That’s one of the things I want to do, is market Memphis, like a WWE superstar almost. Make Memphis a star as well. To me, it would not be good sense to give up that opportunity — that’s promotion for the city that money can’t buy.”
Ross agreed with that view, and further endorsed Lawler as the best choice for Mayor of the city.
“I think Jerry’s motives are very honourable,” he asserted strongly. “He certainly doesn’t need (the position of Mayor) for additional fame and fortune, and he doesn’t need it for the money. He wants to help make his community better, to make it a better place to live for all races, all genders, for children, for senior citizens and everybody in between. I think he’s going to do a great job.”
Bob Kapur was voted as the Student Council President in John N. Given Public School’s first ever election way back in 1985. His platform was to have more pizza days and longer dances. Mail him your song requests at [email protected].