Thursday, August 05, 2010


Election Day, 2010

For many of my friends, today marks the end of their campaigns, some of which have spanned nearly 2 years. Today will be a long day for them, and tomorrow will likely be a day of reflection and, at the very least, rest.

Here are a few of the things that I will be looking at when election results start coming in from around the state:

- Governor - This is obviously the biggest item on everyone's mind this primary. Many, including myself, have analogized this race to 2006, where Bob Corker outspent Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary, who conveniently split the conservative vote. There are some differences, though. While I have tried to stay out of the race as much as possible (with the exception of demoralizing certain Ron Ramsey supporters on their failed logic on Facebook), it is apparent that Zach Wamp's campaign has been run in a superior manner to Ed Bryant's. It hurts me to say it, but that's this man's observation. Zach has raised more money and got more bang for his buck despite, in my opinion, not having the name recognition that Ed had going for him after his 2002 race against Lamar Alexander.

Will it make a difference? Polls indicate that it won't. I've seen some unreleased internals over the past several months that show Haslam delivering a victory address tonight. However, polls can be wrong; we'll have to see what shakes down tonight.

I like all three men in the GOP primary, and I will gladly support the winner come November. Bill Haslam has been friendly and courteous to me throughout his political career - even when he didn't have to be. Let's face it - we don't exactly go to the same parties, nor are we at the same point of our lives (Bill's kids are much older than mine, for instance). But Bill, his brother, and his father have always been cordial, and I think he could make a good governor of our state. My biggest concerns with Bill are his view on firearms (which doesn't mean much, since even the Democrats in Tennessee are pro-gun and wouldn't provide any traction should a Governor Haslam look to scale back firearms legislation) and his family's prior support of the state income tax.

Regarding Ron Ramsey, I don't believe that he was honest with me during his term as Lt. Governor. OK, I'll say it - I firmly believe that he lied to me on multiple occasions. And not just me, but others like Terry Frank (although her hate for Zach Wamp has led her to support Ramsey - go figure). Those who really know me know that the most important virtue that I covet in friends - political or otherwise - is trust and honesty. I haven't forgiven Ron (although I undoubtedly will), and that alone is enough for me to send my vote elsewhere.

That leads me to Zach Wamp. I knew Zach a little from my time in D.C., but I was able to spend quite a bit of time with him at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. He really was a great guy to hang out with, because you could have a regular conversation with him about UT football or movies or the like just as easily as we could discuss defense appropriations or the pending trouble with Tennessee's interstate system and how it's financed. We could debate religious issues, or we could play air guitar. I never fell for the "could have a beer with him" factor that was attributed to George W. Bush, but I certainly felt that Zach really was just a normal guy who was living an extraordinary life. Plus, I continue to be amazed at how responsive Zach is, always returning e-mails and calls within hours, even during the middle of a busy campaign and working for the 3rd District in D.C. Throw in how Zach has helped the 3rd District obtain manufacturing and scientific jobs and about as good of a record that a Congressman could in over a decade's worth of service, and Zach has my vote.

- 3rd Congressional District - I really have my eye on this race, because Chuck Fleischmann has been so slimy in his ads that I will venture into the nearby 3rd District to help out the Democratic nominee if he wins. Given his awful scorched earth tactics, I have to think that Mike Huckabee and Chip Saltsman will also be sullied by Fleischmann's ridiculous barrage of lies and attack ads about Robin Smith. On the other side of the coin, I always thought that Robin Smith should be in Congress, even before she was Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. She has always been a true conservative who wasn't afraid to speak her mind. If Robin wins tonight, it won't be long before she's stirring things up - in a good way - and taking Tennessee values to Washington, D.C.

- Tea Parties - I believe that today is the beginning of the end of the organized tea parties. From all accounts, the tea parties have decided to endorse candidates without any research as to if said candidate has any realistic shot at winning. It's like the difference between the NRA and GOA. Yes, the Gun Owners of American may be more ideologically pure, but the National Rifle Association is the endorsement that people covet because they back winners. The tea parties have no idea how to win elections because they're led by the same knuckleheads that endorsed folks like Michael Badnarik and Chuck Baldwin for president. You may be asking, "Who?" And that's exactly my point. From the childish antics of folks like Matt Collins to the embarrassing "hand notes" of Sarah Palin at Judson Phillips' convention in Nashville, those who have chosen themselves as the voices of this "movement" don't have the track record of a Grover Nordquist or even a Tom Ingram.

Keeping yourself ideologically sound is important - don't get me wrong on that point. However, what is just as important is winning elections. Some people just don't get that. These are the people who punished Van Hilleary in 2002 for the sins of Don Sundquist. They then turned around and voted for Van in 2006 when it was apparent that he had no chance of winning the race against Corker and Bryant, who was ideologically similar to Van. Now, in 2010, they will cast their ballots for Ron Ramsey (who has been last in every poll I've seen) and the carpetbagger Van Irion (who will be lucky to come in third in the 3rd Congressional District race). Despite some voices to the contrary, their votes matter greatly (as compared to being "wasted"), because they are helping to elect the candidate most ideologically opposed to their own views.

It is no secret that I love the grassroots, and at the grassroots level, I love those who are pissed off about Obamacare, the bumbling of the government to act on the floods in Nashville and Iowa and the oil disaster in the Gulf, the complete and total failure of the government's solution of throwing money at the problem of lost jobs as a way of fixing the economy, the federalization of the immigration problem, and the increased socialization of our country. I absolutely love that people are upset about these things and are motivated to do something about them, as apathy could be catastrophic. However, those people need to act for themselves and not listen to tea party leaders and groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus (who worship a deity named Ron Paul). Those folks have no idea how to win elections, and following them will only depress the impact that the conservatives grassroots can have.

- 7th District, Tennessee Senate - Can Stacey Campfield's hustle beat Ron Leadbetter's money and progressive supporters? I hope so. Stacey smoked Leadbetter last time in the House race, but with the district now encompassing more voters, this one could be close.

- State Executive Committee races - Nearly two-thirds of the races for Republican State Executive Committee - the group that makes decisions on the state party level - are contested. That is amazing, and I would love to think that people just want to get involved.

But something is amiss. Gobs of money have been spent on certain races for this unpaid position. In my own district, Ted Hatfield has spent well over $5,000 (as of last count, although I suspect it is at least double that when all of the receipts are counted) on yard signs, billboards, robo-calls, and direct mail pieces. For a position that is basically volunteer in nature? Same goes for Hobart Rice in the 4th District. His signs are everywhere. Something is just odd, and I don't think it's a coincidence that one candidate in many of these races is well-funded while the other is not. I'll say it here - I think someone is trying to buy the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee. It might be a coincidence that this comes on the heels of Speaker Kent Williams getting booted out of the party, but I doubt it.

- Anderson County Juvenile Judge - First of all, there are good Republican judges, and there are bad Republican judges. There are good Democratic judges, and there are bad Democratic judges. I want to get that out of the way right off the bat.

That being said, it is my sincere hope that Brandon Fisher, the Democratic nominee for Anderson County Juvenile Court Judge, wins his election today. He very much appears to be the best juvenile court judge that Anderson County has had in a long while. Unfortunately, without Republican support in Anderson County, his term on the bench may be at an end. That is really a shame since the Republican nominee, Zach Farrar, has no experience - NONE - in Anderson County Juvenile Court. In fact, with the exception of two collections cases, he has no experience in any of the courts of Anderson County. I suppose if Anderson County wants to return to the bad old days where attorneys wouldn't take cases in their juvenile court...

I've only appeared before Judge Fisher one time, but it's a good story, so I'll include it here. I filed a Notice of Appearance to assist Angela in a particularly messy Termination of Parental Rights case. It was set for an all-day trial on a Monday. Unfortunately, Judge Fisher had a kidney stone come up over the weekend. Citing the need to conclude the trial for the permanence and well-being of the child, Judge Fisher refused medication that might result in the case being continued and heard the case on Monday. Not only that, but he passed the stone during the trial. Anyone can say that they care about children and their best interests, but not everyone has proof like that to show their level of concern.

I have some interest in other races, such as the 6th Congressional District, where I have been very impressed with Lou Ann Zelenik and Kerry Roberts, but comments on those races will have to wait for another day.

Frank Cagle

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