Thursday, March 08, 2012

Democrats "unenthusiastic" just like in 1996

The Tennessee Republican party is trying to spin away the great dissatisfaction with their nominee to be, Mitt Romney, by projecting some feelings on the Democratic base in Tennessee that just do not exist.  In a press release, the Republicans are claiming that “The only enthusiasm gap that exists in this Presidential election is with Democrat voters. The fact that more than 1 out of 10 Democrats took the time to go to the polls to reject having President Obama as their nominee, should be very troubling to the Obama campaign."

Right, just like in 1996, when Bill Clinton pulled 88.93% of the vote to 10.99% for "uncommitted". How did this "lack of enthusiasm" for Bill Clinton play out in the general election? Oh, yeah, he carried Tennessee with 48% of the vote to Dole's 45.6%. And, unlike Mittens, Dole actually won Tennessee with 51% of the vote.

Now, I'm not predicting an Obama victory in Tennessee, but based on the GOP's faulty logic, Tennessee should be ripe for the picking for President Obama given the historical comparisons.

The End of an Era

The son of a Lebanese immigrant, Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, the "Lebanese Lion" as Mike Turner calls him, was perhaps the most influential and important political figure in modern Tennessee history who was not the governor.

While controversial at times, Naifeh never feared speaking his mind and doing what he felt was right, despite an increasingly conservative and Republican leaning district.  That meant sometimes using the power of the committee to ensure the legislature focused on issues that were actually important in the lives of Tennesseans, rather than the social conservative distractions the Republicans have pushed in recent years.  As Mike Turner said in a press release:
He has done more for the people of Tennessee than most of us will ever know. He’s a hard worker, he’s well-informed and he’s not afraid to stand-up for the issues and the people he cares about. When he goes home this fall, our caucus and this House will be a much emptier place. I will miss him, but I wish him the best in everything he does in the future.”
In remarks on the House Floor, Speaker Naifeh said "Governor McWherter, my mentor, always told me I would know when it was time to go home and I know that time has come for me to step aside for the next generation of leaders." Indeed, with this end of an era brings the possibility of a rebirth of both the Democratic party and the House Caucus. While his district will likely fall to the Republicans this year, there are many other opportunities to infuse new life and blood into the legislature, hopefully within the new crop of Democrats there lies the potential for the next "Lebanese Lion".

Update: Video from Naifeh's farewell address to the House, with words of support from his fellow members, and a brief turn back at the gavel.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Jason Powell Announces in District 53

Civic leader Jason Powell has announced he will be running to replace Rep. Janis Sontany at the State House in District 53. Powell, 34, had previously run for State House in 2006 against Rep. Mary Pruitt and is starting off the race with some major endorsements from Councilman Jerry Maynard, Sheriff Daron Hall, and former US Senate candidate Bob Tuke.

In his release, Powell stated that he has "always been looking for opportunities to give back" and this was another way for him to do so, along with his charitable work with Big Brothers Big Sisters and role as Hope Gardens Association President.

The election is August 2nd and the filing deadline is April 5th. Read the full release after the jump: