Clark's critics also charge that the mayor is simply too old and tired to vigorously lead the county into the next century, and that the county, which faces a bleak economic future, needs more energetic leadership, rather than what the backslapping Clark is liable to provide. Phil Hamersmith agrees that Clark's age will likely be an issue. "It all depends on how serious the voters are about having an activist mayor," the consultant says.
Clark says he will announce his decision next spring. But no matter how much prodding he may receive, many still doubt he'll run. "He would be in the political fight of his life," says one consultant who requested that his name not be used. "I don't see him taking the risk of ending his political career as a loser.