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Sabrena Smedley, left, looks with Jay Wilson and Tom Ingram at the primary mayor's race numbers after the election ended on May 3.

What a wild end to an oddly entertaining county mayor's race.

We thought we were through with the smarmy antics of a defeated Republican primary mayoral candidate. But then outgoing Hamilton County Commission Chair Sabrena Smedley showed us a full picture of "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

She told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Tuesday that she had an informal phone conversation with Democratic mayoral candidate Matt Adams on Monday and that he told her there may be a role she could play in his administration if he won the election against Weston Wamp, the Republican who snatched the May 3 primary victory from Smedley by 318 votes.

You will recall that Smedley then challenged her Republican primary loss to Wamp, claiming he encouraged Democrats to "cross over" and vote for him in the primary.

She lost the election, then lost her appeal. Then this week she cozied up to Adams, a 26-year-old Democratic newcomer in what looked like an effort to attract cross-over votes from Republicans to the Democratic candidate in an election that became focused on a single topic: a new Lookouts stadium on South Broad Street. At issue: whether local officials should approve a plan to finance the stadium with an $80 million, 30-year bond issue.

Adams — like most elected local officials, supports the stadium plan. Wamp says he supports development in Chattanooga's Southside but argued the financing plan was inappropriate and too rushed. He also said there were too many unanswered questions.

Smedley, who on Wednesday chaired the commission meeting in which she and seven other commissioners approved the plan, told the TFP on Tuesday there hadn't been a conversation about what form her role in an Adams administration would take. She stressed she did not pursue a job from Adams, had not received an offer and had not accepted a position.

For his part, Adams on Tuesday also publicly extended that offer to Smedley — to serve as a full-time senior adviser in his administration. He described it as a bipartisan effort to hire several top-level Republicans.

"Commissioner Sabrena Smedley ran a clean, honest and visionary campaign for county mayor this year," Adams said. "Had supporters of my opponent Weston Wamp not unleashed waves of negative advertising brimming with misinformation, Sabrena would likely be the Republican nominee, and this race would currently be between two honest, mature candidates who both have the interests of Hamilton County at heart."

Just take a breath here.

This is the woman who joined many other Republicans in dissing COVID masking and vaccines. This is the woman who, in an April debate among her two primary opponents, acknowledged that she didn't think Biden was a "legitimate" presidential winner in all parts of the country. Also during the debate, she said it was "too early" to say if she was for or against spending nearly $80 million — 78% of it financed with some form of public tax money — to build the Lookouts a new house.

On Wednesday, only Commissioner Tim Boyd voted against the plan.

One more thing: Let's go back to Adams talking about Smedley's "clean, honest and visionary [primary] campaign. Our memory of the increasingly ugly campaign was that "negative" advertising and innuendo was on full display all along, starting in the primary with Smedley.

In one of her first ads, she took on both Republican Matt Hullander and Wamp, crooning: "I'm the only one running for mayor with a lick of experience in doing the job. That's what this county needs — not political sons trying to expand the family business" — a shot at Wamp, whose father is former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, and Matt Hullander, whose father is County Trustee Bill Hullander.

Plenty of days here, you'll see us decrying partisan politics and calling for more bipartisan cooperation in governing. But today? This last-minute alliance stinks for what it was — a campaign gimmick.

No wonder people are disgusted with politics.

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