Joe Azar has run for mayor of Columbia a lot of times.
He doesn’t know how many. (“You in the media know better than I do,” he says. “Everyone tells me how many times I’ve run; I say the past is the past. I’m not trying to win some kind of ‘Who’s run the most’ lottery.)
Free Times couldn’t figure out how many times he’s run, either, but we did dig up a city election preview from our April 1, 1998 issue in which we described him as a perennial candidate.
This year, though, Azar has decided not to run. He says he has other things to do. He’s been elected president of the Columbia Sertoma Club, he says, and business at Upstairs Audio is going well.
He’s not going to endorse someone for mayor — not exactly.
“I am unendorsing [Steve] Benjamin,” he says. “I am Anybody But Benjamin. ABB.”
He says he’s willing to help out both Larry Sypolt and Moe Baddourah, Benjamin’s two opponents.
The City of Columbia has posted election results back to 2002 online — and in 2002, we found, Azar drew 14 percent of the mayoral vote, with Mayor Bob Coble drawing 82 percent and William Gidwell drawing 4 percent. Azar's numbers plummeted in 2006 and 2010, though, as the mayoral field grew.
In 2012 Azar challenged Cameron Runyan and Robert Bolchoz in the at-large city council race, garnering 8 percent of the vote.