Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Jim Bryson Can't Be Liking This...

I heard GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson guest hosting on WNOX Monday morning for the vacationing Hallerin Hilton Hill. Bryson did a fine job, to tell the truth, as one angry caller after another blistered him with questions regarding education, health care, and complaints from those very people who were taking a government handout as to why one social program or another had been cut by the General Assembly.

I think Bryson did a good job, and putting him before the people, exposing him to a sometimes hostile radio audience was one of the most effective things his campaign has done to date.

What can't be too pleasing to Bryson are these comments from his campaign director, former Tennessee Governor Winfield Dunn, in Monday's Jackson Sun:


"West Tennessee is a vast agricultural area that drew on human resources, and it gave us a population somewhat distinct from the rest of the state," Dunn said. "Middle Tennessee folks had the courage to come over the mountains and settle, giving them a different historical base off of which it evolved," he said.

East Tennessee? He uses an old maxim to describe the area.

"They won't do anything you tell them to do," he said, "but they will do anything you ask them to do."


Ugh. Yes, Mr. Dunn, we're just a bunch of whores.

Thanks for reminding me why East Tennessee never embraced you, Mr. Dunn. You simply don't understand East Tennesseans - a political reality that I am constantly reminded of when speaking to those from the other Grand Divisions of Tennessee who think one can campaign in Mosheim like you can in Memphis.

Those remarks just keep reminding me of why Jimmy Quillen despised Winfield Dunn - for his lack of respect or understanding of the "Mountain Empire." Quillen even quietly torpedoed Dunn's re-election bid in 1986, working behind the scenes for Democratic nominee Ned Ray McWherter. (Tom Humphreys of the KNS has a short summary of the particulars of the feud.)

In my opinion, Bryson needs to let Dunn work West Tennessee and keep him out of any statewide headlines. East Tennessee is what stands between him and the Governor's Mansion (assuming that he is indeed the GOP nominee, which isn't a guarantee given that he has little to no name ID anywhere east of Nashville and is hurt by the logistics of a lengthy ballot that has Mark Albertini at the top, which I believe to be worth 4 points for Albertini and other political pundits believe to be worth more than that).

East Tennessee can be fertile ground for Bryson, but he has an uphill climb if people are reminded of why he has people with an anti-East Tennessee bias in high positions of his campaign. The only reason that Bredesen polls high in East Tennessee is because the voters of the region have been shielded from the daily scandals of this administration due to a lack of a significant news source east of Chattanooga.

Bryson can make this race against Bredesen competitive, but he can't do it without East Tennessee. With the region, he might just make the November elections interesting. Without East Tennessee, he faces a double-digit loss.

You know the saying: With friends like that....
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