September 30, 2008
Will Obama switch running-mates?
The Internet is a great source for unreliable, unverifiable, and downright dangerous (mis)information. A seemingly endless campaign for President of the United States that has already seen its fair share of twists and turns is fertile ground for planted whisperings to grow into unstoppable memes. (See: Thompson, Fred, campaign for President.)
So it is that we have seen an item circulating that suggests that a likely "October surprise" will be U.S. Sen. Joe Biden leaving the Democratic campaign, and being replaced by either U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton or someone else.
This rumor is slowing being stirred into the mainstream, like with today's post on Los Angeles Times blog "Top of the Ticket."
I don't buy it. Do you?
Have you helped anyone register to vote?
Today, believe it or not, is the last day of September. And in Tennessee, the voter registration deadline for the November 4 election is Monday, October 6.
In addition to doing your part as an individual and making sure your own registration is current, I think it important to seek out those who are dragging their feet, or maybe haven't been paying attention, and give them a little nudge by handing them a form, making sure it's filled out correctly, and possibly even helping to mail or deliver it. Of course, it is just as important to admonish new registrants to learn as much as they can about the candidates and issues at hand before they head into the polling place.
I've tried being part of voter registration "drives" this year, and those are great; but perhaps for the same reasons that I do not belong to a political party, nor a religion, I prefer to work on this as an individual. Do it however you see fit, though.
Early voting begins just over two weeks from now, on October 15. (I am told that early voting has already begun in Catoosa County, Georgia. Yikes.)
September 28, 2008
Gaines and a loss
Chattanooga City Council member Debbie Gaines, who has served District 9 since winning former Councilman Yusuf Hakeem's seat in a special election, has announced that she will not seek reelection in March. To date, this is the only open seat (not counting November's special election in District 5), as all other incumbents are said to be running. No names have come my way as far as potential candidates. Wildly speculating here: I wonder if Betsy Bramlett would consider it?
There is one -- and rather interestingly, only one -- new name in the mayoral candidate field, after an email campaign urged many citizens to meet at the Election Commission headquarters on Friday and pick up papers. Strat Parrott "heard the call," but apparently there was plenty of immunity against this viral message.
By the way, I've detected a buzz about a major entry into this race in the coming weeks. (Not that Strat's, or Rob Healy's for that matter, wasn't a major entry, of course.) When I know what's up, you'll know. Or, if you know before I do, be so kind as to fill me in.
September 25, 2008
New developments in Chattanooga municipal elections
Chattanooga elections, meet social networking and viral "marketing."
An anonymously authored email message began circulating this morning that asks its recipients to consider running for mayor of Chattanooga, and to show up en masse at Hamilton County Election Commission headquarters to pick up the necessary qualifying papers.
Scenic City-centric Web site Chattarati picked up the story, and ran a brief post earlier today. They also published the full text of the email, which states "if you believe that Chattanooga needs uncommon leadership for unprecedented times, it is your civic duty to join other concerned citizens in running for mayor."
Already there have been a few announcements on Twitter by micro-bloggers stating their intent to join the effort. TennesseeTicket will continue to bring you updates on this developing story.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported today that Scott Seagle has picked up qualifying petition in the race as well. The Election Commission will decide in the near future whether Rob Healy, who has turned in his completed forms, was a qualified resident of the city in time to participate in the March 2009 elections.
Elections for the City Council will also take place in March. Two individuals have picked up papers for the District 1 seat currently held by Linda Bennett. No other challenges are known.
There is a candidate forum tonight that will allow Brainerd voters to vet the two men running for the District 5 seat formerly held by John "Duke" Franklin, Jr. Those candidates are Russell Gilbert and Joe Rowe. The forum is at 6:00 (the event starts earlier) at the Friendship Community Church just off Brainerd Road at N Tuxedo Ave. The winner of the November 4 special election will have to quickly re-qualify by December 18 to be in the March election.
In other electoral news, Mayor Ron Littlefield is involved in an event aimed at increasing the number of young people that vote. An announcement today by the Department of Education, Arts and Culture (which was created by Littlefield after he took office in April 2005) states that a television ad campaign is being launched that will feature area teens in one of its spots. The ad campaign is targeting the November 4 general election.
September 19, 2008
Council District 5 race down to Gilbert and Rowe
Breaking news by Chattanoogan.com: School Board member Jeffrey Wilson has decided not to pursue the open Chattanooga City Council seat being filled by special election on November 4.
Wilson cited family obligations in his withdrawal, which comes too late to have his name removed from the ballot. Former election commissioner Joe Rowe will join community activist Russell Gilbert in a candidate forum in Brainerd next Thursday evening.
In other local election news, former city Parks and Recreation director Rob Healy did pick up papers today to qualify in the March 2009 mayoral election. Assuming he qualifies, the five-member Hamilton County Election Commission will have to decide whether or not Healy has lived in the city long enough to be eligible to run.
Qualifying begins today for 2009 Chattanooga elections
While it may seem like March 2009 is unfathomably distant, especially with all that is happening in the next several weeks, today marks the starting point for Chattanooga's municipal elections, as candidates may begin picking up qualifying papers from the county election commission.
All nine seats on the Chattanooga City Council, the office of Mayor, and at least one city judge position will be chosen. (Someone help me remember the judicial particulars.)
Completed petitions are due back to the election commission by noon on Thursday, December 18th. That is when we will know the full slate of candidates (though some have already been speculating and faux-nominating). Since municipal elections are nonpartisan, there is no primary round; but in the race for mayor, if no one exceeds 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff in April.
Join me in watching this race very closely, especially if you live in or near Chattanooga. Local elections matter more than many people are willing to admit.
September 17, 2008
Barnes installed as Democratic nominee in Senate District 22
A.C. Kleinheider was there, and gave us the play-by-play.
Score a win for partisanship, cheerleading, and empty vengefulness.
Mark a loss for the "demo-" part of "democracy."
Or, in another sense, the primary will be a "do-over" by pitting official Democratic Party nominee Tim Barnes against write-in candidate Senator Rosalind Kurita on November 4.
I predict a Barnes victory, but I've been wrong plenty of times.
Does anyone know of any live readings taking place anywhere in the vicinity? It may be hokey, I don't know; but it would be harmless. If no one is already doing this, maybe we can organize something for next year. Say, on the courthouse steps, or lawn? High noon?
And yes, period attire is completely optional.
Ochs, in free
Like several of you (hey), I attended the grand opening of the newly named Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies (formerly known as the Community Research Council) on Monday evening at 739 McCallie Avenue.
Like some of you, I learned something new there: namely, that the Center is connected in a very real way (as an upstairs neighbor) to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Center for Applied Social Research, led by Dr. Barbara Medley.
UTC Chancellor Roger Brown was among the speakers at the event, as was namesake Adolph Ochs' granddaughter Ruth Holmberg. The Center's president, David Eichenthal, beamed as he welcomed well-wishers from virtually all strata of Chattanooga's diverse community.
Having a facts-based organization like this located here, and seeing it use its findings about our city to help communities around the nation, really makes one proud to be a Chattanoogan.
By the way, the New Binkley Brothers played awesome old-time music throughout. You can catch them at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday the 21st at the inaugural Chattahippie festival, which also features Elizabeth Cook, the Pure Prairie League, the legendary Charlie Louvin, and (I've heard) one of my personal favorites, Mojo Nixon, among many others.
September 15, 2008
When political parties exceed their purpose
Now here's something I don't say every day: "Oh, to be in Clarksville."† But Clarksville is the site, on Wednesday, where a committee of local political activists, on paper as committed to democracy, might overturn a democratic election. I wouldn't enjoy it, but I would like the opportunity to report on this grave mistake in person. (It should be noted that Senator Kurita filed today as a write-in candidate, so she will participate in the upcoming election no matter what happens.)
Forget, for a moment, to which political party these committee members belong. Both major parties, and most of the minor ones, promote democracy as the mechanism by which the people in a constitutional republic self-govern.
As much as the Tennessee Republican Party would like to make of this instance involving Democrats, I caution my Republican friends not to throw any stones from behind their shimmering glass walls. The day will come, if it has not already, when some of your own will stray down this path. (Pre-publish update: yea, verily, Congressman David Davis is actually wishing it would have happened for him. HT: Post Politics)
Some in the blogosphere have used the events surrounding Rosalind Kurita's reelection struggle as a call for party registration in the state. I respect my friend's view, because I know the intent is to establish clarity in determining electoral outcomes. (However, if we went that way, we'd have to have ballot access and party registration for all, not just two; know what I'm sayin'?)
But would voter registration by party simply add to the problem the parties already have, which was so expertly described by Clint Brewer this morning as "car[ing] more about politics and holding power than they do actual democracy"? This idea of "challenging bona fides" doesn't sit well with me. And it doesn't even make much sense, if you think about it: after all, what does party registration mean, when each major party strives to put up the biggest tent, and therefore each attracts ideological opposites to stand warily alongside each other? Maybe if we had a greater number of smaller, more focused parties; maybe.
I like the fact that I am an independent always; but I can "be" a Republican in August and a Democrat in November. Or is it the other way around? Perhaps that's next election.
†(I'm joking, of course, as even though Chattanooga continues to be my favorite city by an ever-growing margin, I think highly of Clarksville and its surrounding hamlets.)
A shakeup, a shakedown, and a breakdown in the race to control the Tennessee Senate
The Nashville Post's A. C. Kleinheider -- hereafter called the Kleinheider 5000, as I'm convinced it's a machine, not a man -- has been virtually nonstop in covering some rather sordid developments in the struggle over an evenly divided state Senate.
In the district currently served by the General Assembly's only independent legislator, there are revelations of an affair between Senator Mike Williams' GOP opponent, Mike Faulk (a divorced attorney from Church Hill), and Kelli Walker (a married schoolteacher in Hawkins County, and erstwhile president of the local Young Republicans group).
Will this help "the maverick of Maynardville" (i.e., Williams)? That remains to be seen. It cannot but damage Faulk's chances, if only slightly. Part of the formula lies in how Faulk handles the situation from here, especially as Williams himself hasn't always been perfect, as David Oatney reminds us.
Faulk is not the only Senate candidate with an adulterous mess on his hands. Randy Camp, a Democrat who is running for the seat long held by former Lt. Gov. John Wilder, has admitted to one as well. And Camp's former brother-in-law has made sure to disseminate plenty of the details as widely as possible, in order to detract voters from choosing him.
Moving on, then, to the really lowdown and dirty story of recent days: the decision over whether Senator Rosalind Kurita's knife-edged victory of nineteen votes over primary challenger Tim Barnes was enough for her to hold the seat. (There is no further opposition, so the primary victor wins outright in November.)
In January 2007, Sen. Kurita, a Democrat, cast her vote for the GOP nominee for Speaker of the Senate, rather than for the senator from Mason (and from her own party) who'd held that seat for over three decades. As a result, Republicans control the chamber for the first time in modernity. Tennessee's Democrats went after Kurita to teach her a lesson, and put a lot of effort into the insurgent Barnes campaign.
However, the election was declared for Kurita -- so Barnes challenged the result. The state Executive Committee met over the weekend to decide what to do, and voted by a three-to-one margin (with two abstentions) to refer the matter to a joint committee made up of party leaders in the three counties that make up the district. All indications are that this next group will name Barnes the nominee, and therefore the de facto winner.
The gist of the challenge by Barnes sounds a note readers will recognize after the GOP primary in the First Congressional district, when outgoing U.S. Rep. David Davis claimed that the primary won by Phil Roe was infiltrated by Democrats. So, too, came the claim that District 22 Republicans interfered in the Barnes-Kurita match-up.
There's only one problem. The opportunity provided by law to prove malicious intent by a crossover voter is limited to a direct challenge in the polling place. (This is made difficult, one would imagine, by the prevalence of early voting.) The state Senate election was certified as a victory, albeit narrow, for Rosalind Kurita, and the state Executive Committee has chosen to ignore that fact. The only apparent reason for their choice is, in my opinion, petty partisan revenge.
So a few Republicans voted in the primary? Tennessee has no party registration, and has open primaries. It would be hard to show that a voter has not simply had a "change of heart" -- but even beyond that, with no candidate of their own, were Clarksville Republicans supposed to just sit on their hands? I think I may have heard that some -- gasp -- Democrats voted in the primary between former Rep. Jim Vincent and current Rep. Jim Cobb in House District 31. Were they trying to spoil an election, or were they just trying to participate in their representative government?
Though they don't mean anything, the connections between the principals in these three stories are interesting. Sen. Williams got into trouble with the Republicans last session (2005-06), when he did what Kurita did this time, and voted for Gov. Wilder. Two years later, after Kurita effectively handed the gavel to Senator Ron Ramsey, Williams then voted for Ramsey; but shortly thereafter left the party and declared himself Independent. And, of course, it's Wilder's former seat that Randy Camp is trying to win.
September 7, 2008
Speaking in limited terms
Tom Guleff has some words for Shelby County politicians who oppose a November voter initiative that would create term limits on several positions. From his press release:
Memphis and Shelby County voters will get a chance to decide whether term limits should be applied to several elected positions come November. However, it is unfortunate that there are some local politicos attempting to make this nonpartisan issue, a "political party" issue. [...] Whether one agrees or disagrees with the issue, term limits along with good governance should not be viewed through the prism of party loyalty.
I agree strongly. I can see both pros and cons to having term limits, but I definitely don't see either their presence or their absence as fodder for political gain by one party or another.
September 5, 2008
Berke barbecue builds ballot bridges
Tennessee state Senator Andy Berke kicked off his campaign for reelection to the 10th District seat Wednesday evening at Chattanooga's Bessie Smith Hall. Guests filled the venue to near capacity and ate catered barbecue while they listened to a series of speeches aimed at ramping up support for the full Democratic slate this Fall.
Berke, a Democrat, will face Republican Oscar Brown (not to be confused with last year's GOP nominee, Oscar Brock) in the November 4 election. But while the event was themed with his name, it was clear that Berke, who has worked in campaigns for U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., was intent on sharing the political energy up and down the ticket.
The opening remarks by Hamilton County Democratic Party chair John Bailes drew modest applause for the most part, but at the mention of the word "Obama" the crowd erupted. (This with not a few former Hillary Clinton supporters in their midst.) Democratic National Convention delegate Justin Wilkins spent his allotted minutes imploring those present to volunteer in voter registration efforts, and to recruit more volunteers in doing the same. He apparently chose not to regale attendees with stories from Denver.
Tennessee's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, former state party chair Bob Tuke, took the podium and delivered his stump speech. While his message did not skimp on scathing rebukes of Senator Lamar Alexander's voting record, Tuke had only kind words for his friend, Senator Bob Corker.
Berke then took the stage in front of a standing, cheering crowd, and told supporters that the upcoming election is like "the national championship" for the Democratic Party, at all levels of government. But while he touched on accomplishments he says he made during his first year in the Senate, and as well looked ahead to a few policy objectives in the coming term, it seemed that his main purpose was to promote the candidacies of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, Bob Tuke, state Rep. Tommie Brown, and other Democrats.
I thought Berke's speech was well-prepared and expertly delivered. Like the recent national conventions, this event was designed to rally the faithful, and it seemed to have succeeded. Plus, and you know this if you've been following him on Twitter or Facebook, Andy is funny and personable.
State Rep. JoAnne Favors (District 29) closed the event with a brief echo of the earlier pleas to vote for each Democrat on the ticket, then led the crowd in a chorus of "Yes We Can."
The Democratic nominee for the Third District U.S. House seat, Doug Vandagriff, was conspicuously absent from the proceedings, both in person and in mention.
Unfortunately, the room lighting and the distance of my camcorder shot combined to make a grainy, dark video product, so I don't have any moving pictures to share.
NOTE: If anyone knows of an Oscar Brown event, please let me know, and I'll make every effort to attend.
September 3, 2008
It's Party Time: General Assembly elections enter pro season
Maybe it's just the MSM brainwashing (I joke), but I tend to consider Labor Day as the beginning of campaign season proper -- for elections in November, that is -- and here we are, a scant nine weeks away from one of the most important days of our lives. (Oh, and there are national elections happening that day as well.)
Close to home, Senator Andy Berke prefaced today's formal start in the race by appearing in the town of Whitwell's annual Labor Day parade on Monday. Though most analysts would say that Berke is a shoo-in for a full term (he won the seat in a special election last year after former Sen. Ward Crutchfield resigned), it appears that no chances are being taken. Berke's event featured representatives from statewide and national Democratic campaigns -- and barbecue. (More on tonight's kickoff in a separate post.)
Now to the other side of the state, where a battle has ensued over the seat vacated by former Lt. Gov. John Wilder. The 26th District covers quite a few rural counties, and even though it was represented by a Democrat for, well, ever, the state GOP has some hope that the voters' culturally conservative viewpoints will mean victory for their candidate, current Rep. Delores Gresham.
As if on cue, the Democratic primary winner, Randy Camp, had to admit last month that his marriage had ended due to his having had an affair. I don't know enough about the politics in that district, but it would seem that this fact, while of a personal nature, could keep the race very close.
Okay, next stops (after the aforementioned Berke rally roundup): Middle Tennessee, where the interim officeholder in former Sen. Jerry Cooper's seat was dismissed by the primary; and a couple of races in East Tennessee.
And then there's the House. I might get all this written by November 4.
September 1, 2008
Here's how to help Gustav evacuees
I hope to round up all the local coordinated efforts at helping our temporary neighbors who are in the area due to Hurricane Gustav. If you know of any I've missed, leave a comment or send me an email: [ buggy shoes (at) gmail (dot) com ] (no spaces).
The American Red Cross, Greater Chattanooga Area chapter is operating a shelter at the Brainerd Recreation Center (next door to Brainerd High School on North Moore Rd). The Times Free Press has more. It sounds like the Red Cross is asking more for funds than for supplies.
U.S Senate candidate Bob Tuke is turning his military care package service into a storm refugee relief operation. Donors can bring goods to the Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters on Patten Pkwy at 4pm today.