May 15, 2008
Updated: Padgett-ry, and a bowl of grits
UPDATE: please see a clarifying statement, released by the campaign in response to part of this report, at Post Politics. I will post video of Thursday's remarks as soon as I am able.
Original post follows:
I visited one of the city's hottest political elbow-rubbing spots this morning, as local Democrats hosted U.S. Senate candidate Mike Padgett at Wally's Restaurant on McCallie. The comfort-food mainstay provided an informal setting for a candid conversation between the former Knox County Clerk and the small number gathered to meet him.
As the tables were being readied, conversation in the foyer centered around the current presidential race: the fact that both Clinton and Obama had supporters there; the John Edwards endorsement; and theories about potential running-mates. Mike Padgett recalled receiving a phone call from former Governor Ned McWherter requesting his support for (Bill and) Hillary Clinton. Laughing, he recounted answering, "Governor, have I ever said 'no' to you?"
Once inside, Padgett began describing his stances on a few key issues. He started with energy, and the need to involve Tennessee farmers in solutions to the current dilemma, which he labeled a "crisis" and "the number one issue." He stated that sugarcane, if genetically enhanced to thrive in a temperate climate, would be more profitable than switchgrass, and more sustainable than corn, for producing ethanol.
He also indicated a preference to keep nuclear power at the forefront of our ongoing plans—and not a little distaste for Nevada Senator Harry Reid's efforts to keep radioactive by-products from being deposited under Yucca Mountain. "This issue is bigger than Harry Reid; it's the nation. If it takes the (elimination) of a man of my own party [from the Senate]," he flatly declared, "then we don't have a choice."
Transportation and infrastructure were next on the agenda; specifically, better roads into rural counties ("you just can't get to 'em"), and a return to hauling freight by rail (though presumably with alternative-fueled engines). America had a thriving rail system once; why can't it return? he mused.
Reflecting on his visits to over two-thirds of the state's counties, Padgett launched his theoretical general election spiel: he wants to know what Senator Lamar Alexander has done while in office that has positively affected your life. He said that, if elected, he will listen to the needs of citizens from across the state and respond with help from his office.
Another recipient of harsh criticism from the generally affable candidate was the No Child Left Behind act. And then, on the subject of education, came one of the boldest proposals of the day: public school teachers taking students into their homes, in very small class sizes (say, eight), for grades K-5. Pupils would learn basic home skills (making beds, paying bills) in addition to more traditional subjects. Then, said the candidate, larger class sizes and a "college-like" learning format would be suitable for older children, because they would have learned "the system."
At one point, District Seven City Council member Manny Rico stopped through. A Republican, he joked about mingling with the Democratic crowd, then came over to meet the candidate and exchange sighs with John Bailes about the story on so many lips this morning—that is, the very recent arrest of Rico's fellow Councilman John "Duke" Franklin, Jr.
The breakfast meeting wrapped up shortly thereafter, and attendees went on to the workday. Mike Padgett went on to Knoxville, where he later spoke at the local party's Truman Day Dinner.
US Senate Elections | By joe lance | 10:30 PM
He talked about farming when I met with him as well. He focused on that as well as transportation in rural communities.
I was wondering what you think his chances are.
Posted by: newscoma at May 16, 2008 08:30 AM