The contentious race for the job of top prosecutor in Tennessee’s most populous county ends Thursday, when voters decide between the current Republican district attorney and a Democratic challenger in a contest that’s gained some national attention as the two clash on a new state sentencing law and prosecuting abortion providers.
Voters will also cast votes for governor, Congress and state legislative seats in Thursday’s primary. But in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, a city that has struggled with violent crime for years, the race between incumbent District Attorney Amy Weirich and opponent Steve Mulroy has taken center stage.
Weirich has been a prosecutor for more than 30 years and is seeking a second eight-year term. Mulroy is a civil rights lawyer and former federal prosecutor who also has served as a Shelby County commissioner.
The candidates have different approaches to criminal justice issues. One of those is Tennessee’s new “truth in sentencing” law, which requires serving entire sentences for various felonies, including attempted first-degree murder, vehicular homicide resulting from the driver’s intoxication and carjacking. Twelve other offenses would require inmates to serve at least 85% of their sentences.