Monday, May 16, 2005


Tennessee Governor's Race - 2002 & 2006

Bill Hobbs has a hard-hitting critique of Phil Bredesen's rise and Van Hilleary's stalled political career. For those who need a recap of the history's of these two and where they are headed, this column is a necessity.

My two-cents on Hilleary (because, if you don't know where I stand on Bredesen by now, you haven't been reading carefully) - I think Van is a good man. However, I question those who he trusts with his campaign future. What is so odd is that he tended to have wonderful D.C. staffers, but these people were a far cry from the campaign staff that he employed for the 2002 Tennessee Governor's race. I played on Van's Congressional League Softball team and campaigned for him in the East Tennessee region that included Knox County in 2002, so I know both groups of people. The way that the campaign in 2002 was run was disgraceful, and when I say that, I am aiming my criticism at a few high-ranking people. It, along with Dole 1996, was one of the only campaigns that I felt uneasy about working at the time - because of the sleaziness, the running when you should have been standing firm, the lack of political vision by those dealing with the press. Standing in the rain that Election Day morning with Van in 2002, I felt bad for him as GOP voter after GOP voter came up to him and told him how they liked him but wouldn't be voting for him after the "dirty" campaign that he had run. I felt bad for him because I don't think it was Van who was at fault for that "dirty" campaign. Now that he lost his dream job opportunity in 2002, he seems to have lost his senses - not as badly as Al Gore did after 2000, but jumping into a race with three other candidates when you are the only Republican to lose a statewide general election in over two decades isn't politically sane. OK, maybe that's a bit harsh, but at least Van is the victim of extremely poor political advice.

When Van loses this primary, he's done politically. Finished. Over. So why put all of your political fortunes into a primary where you aren't the most conservative candidate (Ed Bryant is), you don't have the most money (Bob Corker does), you haven't been working for and living amongst Tennesseans since 2002 (Bryant, Corker, and Harwell have), and you don't have the best campaign team (Bryant again)? Meanwhile, he has once again surrounded himself with the same cancerous elements that cost him 2002. It's beyond strange, and his campaign looks to be in disarray compared to the Bryant, Corker, and Harwell campaigns. At Lincoln Day events, Van often wasn't present and many times didn't even have a campaign representative attend in his proxy. Heck, his campaign website has been in development for months! I once thought a great deal of Van, but one has to wonder about him when he continues to surround himself with people that only limit his potential. My advice - dump this campaign team and find some real conservatives to run your campaign against Bredesen for the Governor's Mansion in 2006. That way, Van, your integrity, political sanity, and conservative values won't be compromised, and the GOP might take back the Governor's Mansion in a race that many Republicans were ready to write-off only a few months back.

I'm glad the hard questions are being asked about Van Hilleary and his quixotic Senate campaign now...however, you say that Hilleary is the victim of bad political advice and counsel...however, if you have spent 5 minutes with the man it is evident how obsessed he is with the minutiae of political say he is above the rough and tumble of political campaign decisions is immensely unlikely. I agree with Bill Hobbs...not only does Hilleary totally lack gravitas, the self-styled tactical and strategic maestro is blindly and glibly orchestrating his own political destruction.
I will agree with you that Van had a horrible staff in 02. It is always a bad idea to have your "East TN Field Rep" in Crossville. There is no reason Van should not have one that race.

I have to disagree that Ed has the best campaign staff. I mean come on, don't let your bias blind you. He may be your favorite, but don't let that keep you from realizing his greatest weakness (well. . . thats hard not to rank behind money though). Ed's campaign right now closely resembles a couple of good 'ole boys driving down the road with guns, taking shots at every road sign in sight.

They should receive credit for getting a website up first (though its not got a picture newer than 3 years on it). However, it is lacking focus, just slinging shots at anyone and everyone.
Yawn -

Using an SAT trick, let's eliminate all of the wrong answers. Van's team has all of the bad elements of 2002 and has lost all of the good people (not sure how one replaces Brian Tapp), so he can be eliminated. Beth, who may have some good people working for her, is still polling around the level of Alan Keyes during his presidential runs, so it's hard to say that her team is accomplishing anything. Corker's team thinks it's a good idea to take Democratic money to win a Republican primary. While Corker may have some big names in his campaign, they have already made some amateurish mistakes early in the game.

That leaves Ed's team, which you don't seem to know much about. I mean, the thought of Jeff Vanness driving down the road in a pickup truck with guns?!?! Are you kidding? I can see why Ed likes him, though, because they are both calming personalities. (Me - I'm more like Jay Bush - Mountain Dew and Dr. Enuf all the way!) Plus, Caryn Eggeraat, Jennifer Bannister, and Diane Kincaid are proven fundraisers who - to my knowledge - do not spend their leisure time (what little they have of it) shooting signs from moving automobiles. Finally, how are these "good ole boys?" That perplexes me. Most of Ed's team are young (under 35), and the majority are women. If you want good ole boys, check out Corker's team and his fundraisers. Sorry, yawn, but you're off base here.



I should clarify that I don't think they are good 'ole boys. They most certainly are not. However, they so far seem to most resemble a group of guys getting together saying "hey, you know what. . what the heck? Let's run for the Senate." They have fired barbs at every candidate in the race, and even some that are not in the race. Nothing has stuck. Ed would make a fantastic Senator and is a super human being, but there has bee nothing impressive from his camp so far.

That being said, I would venture to say that all of the campaigns have not appeared up to par. They are all out much too early. Other than raising money, they other advantage Corker has right now is a solid base in Knox Co.

Know what happened the last time a Republican didn't win Knox Co. statewide? You'll have to help me. I never took the SAT and don't know those tricks.

Who are we talking about specifically when referring to Van's 'horrible' 2002 gubernatorial campaign staff?
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