Fri
Aug 4 2006
08:10 am
By: tennesseevalues...  shortURL

I imagine that quite a few folks this morning are waking up with hangover symptoms. For some, the sweet taste of victory and cash bar drinks has turned into a dry mouth. For others, the shouts for change have left them only with a throbbing headache. Regardless, we will be feeling the effects of this incumbent hangover for some time.

Once everyone stumbles for some coffee and is ready to look at lessons learned, we'll see that my father was right again. In 1994 when various GOP grassroots organizations pushed for term limits initiatives across the country, my father pointed out that everyone was for term limits-- as long as they didn't apply to the guy in their district. Seems for the most part that a good majority of the folks here share that outlook.

The term limit issue was but a poor player on the electoral stage in 2006. A lot of sound and fury, but mostly signifying nothing. The only true casualty of the term limit debate was Mary Lou Horner. If she had not put her candidacy into limbo (never quite withdrawing and offering support to another candidate, never quite getting fully back into the race) then she very likely would have defeated Larry Smith in the primary.

Wanda Moody was at least 50/50 in her primary without the term limit issue.

Mark Harmon was a candidate for commission BEFORE the term limit issue even raised its head. He had mounted a door to door campaign (I saw him in my neighborhood on more than one occasion) discussing actual issues BEFORE the term limit issue gained steam. One lesson learned for the Democrats-- why rely on 41 write-in candidates to show up next election cycle? Why not recruit candidates like Harmon in advance so that funding and support systems can be built into their campaigns?

The Democrats weren't the only ones left to deal with incumbent hangover. The GOP found that unseating an incumbent is harder than it looks. Even when you're trying to unseat your own guy. Good luck to Schree, but I won't be surprised if Last Car returns to Nashville to generate two more years of headaches for them.

The people have spoken. Yes, they are for term limits, just not for their guy. My worry right now is that the local Dems won't take away a real lesson from this. I saw some Democrat woman on WBIR last night offering the excuse that their underfunded, undersupported, write-in initiated candidates lost because people don't know how to vote when there is a primary and a general election on the same ballot. She claimed that voters were unaware that, even though they had to declare a party for the primary, they were free to vote across party lines in the general election.

Uh, yeah, okay. And the senior citizens in my district voted for Mark Harmon because they thought "that nice boy from JAG" would make a good commissioner.

Don't make excuses. Make plans.

 

 

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Rachel's picture

I don't really think

I don't really think yesterday's vote was a fair referendum on term limits.  Because of the timing of the TCS decision, many candidates started late (one of the ones who didn't, Mark Harmon, went on to win, as you point out).  They were behind in raising $$, behind in creating name recognition, etc.

Plus the parties would have put more effort into finding candidates for the primary if we had known term limits were an issue.

This election showed us that people will vote for a person who might be term-limited over someone they don't know enough about.  To extrapolate that to "folks are for term limits, just not for their guy" is taking too big of a step.

Also, I heard one of the Republican big-wigs point out that the hotly contested Republican Senate primary brought out a lot of Republicans yesterday.  Probably true, and definitely a plus for term-limited incumbants, most of whom were Rs.

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

Yes, but...

The parties would have put more effort into finding candidates for the primary if we had known term limits were an issue.

I agree whole-heartedly with you that the parties should work to find viable, legitimate candidates for every race. I don't believe any Democrat or Republican office holder should be allowed the luxury of running without opposition. I believe it serves as a disincentive for the office holder to work toward moderate compromise. The office holder can feel elected by a "mandate" and believe that any past and future activites are endorsed by the electorate. The parties should be putting effort into finding candidates for the primaries regardless of the term limit issue. Mark Harmon is exhibit A.

Beyond that, I believe the parties don't put an honest effort into finding candidates because of my earlier thought-- people will vote for the devil they know about 98% of the time rather than the riskier choice of the challenger. Term limits are for "the other district." Like I said, people say they are for term limits all the time. They rarely seem to use the already legal, charter-friendly version of term limits commonly known as election day.

So, that being said, what were the parties waiting for? Why were there so many write-in candidates after the term limit issue raised its head and not legitimate party-supported candidates BEFORE the term limit issue?

R. Neal's picture

That's what I wanted to know

That's what I wanted to know back in May. The standard answer was that before term limits, the deck was too stacked against challengers to make it worth their while to endure all the public slings and arrows, not to mention the expense. I guess that makes sense, but it also seems like a defeatist attitude that further enables the status-quo.

Elaine Davis's picture

"some Democrat woman"

That was me, Elaine Davis, the democratic candidate for Knox County Commission Seat 4B. I was being interviewed on WBIR by Dan Farkus. I was directly asked by Dan Farkus if the fact that a state and federal primary being held at the same time as the general election was a confusing issue for the voters. I answered in the affirmative because there were numerous voters that did not understand the disctinction between the elections. I made NO comment that my campaign was underfunded nor undersupported. On the contrary, I received over $4200 in campaign contributions and had an overwhelming number of supporteres and volunteers and their efforts show in the number of votes that I received. My opponent at last financial disclosure had received $750 and I had seen no evidence of campaigning other than signs placed at the polls on election day. I am extremely grateful for the support that I received and thank you to all of the constituents that voted for me!

Bbeanster's picture

"The term limit issue was

"The term limit issue was but a poor player on the electoral stage in 2006. A lot of sound and fury, but mostly signifying nothing. The only true casualty of the term limit debate was Mary Lou Horner. If she had not put her candidacy into limbo (never quite withdrawing and offering support to another candidate, never quite getting fully back into the race) then she very likely would have defeated Larry Smith in the primary"

This is wrong, wrong, wrong.
MLH paid lip service and lip service only to quitting the race. She was prodded by key supporters to do that, and made an announcement that she was "suspending" her candidacy, but she continued to ask for votes until the bitter (and I DO mean bitter, because she absolutely despises R. Larry Smith)end.

I was pretty close to that race, and I do not think MLH would have won in any case. And if she'd truly dropped out, her supporters would have moved on over to James McMillan, who would very likely have won. But mary Lou could not bring herself to do that, and the thing she feared most happened -- R. Larry got the GOP nomination. She recruited an Independent write-in, Faith Tapp, who got about 5% of the vote, and succeeded in making R. Larry look like Superman.

One thing Horner is absolutely right about -- R. Larry Smith is going to do and say things that will curdle your blood. He is in a league of his own and I'm confident he will break new ground. Take that to the bank.

Bbeanster's picture

Also, I submit that Mike

Also, I submit that Mike McMillan really was a casualty of term limits. Mike, a pretty decent, just went through the motions of campaigning after the Bailey decision came down. For instance, I asked him how many yard signs he put out (because I didn't see any). He said less than 50 (R. Larry said he had 1,300).

Also, I don't know how anybody can say Collins wasn't done in by signing onto that lawsuit.

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

Collins

I would have loved the idea of a Mike McMillan victory speech on Thursday night. And, I totally believe you regarding the prospects of a future with R. Larry. As a matter of fact, I worry about that entire district now represented by such esteemed characters as R. Larry and Scott Moore. Halls certainly has it. Unfortunately, "it" doesn't look very good right now.

As for Collins, he was definitely hurt by the lawsuit, as I told him myself when he campaigned in my neighborhood. But, I'm not entirely certain it was the only thing that did him in.

Harmon was campaigning actively before the term limits issue was drawn into the fight. The district is primarily Democrat-leaning and the presence of split-ticket representation here has always seemed an anomaly (to me at least). I thought that a well-organized Democratic campaign (as Harmon's appeared to be) always had a decent shot at beating Collins based on the constituency demographics alone. The lawsuit and the term limit issues probably helped push a few more in Harmon's direction, but my neighbors with Harmon signs in their yards were supporting his campaign regardless of the lawsuit. They were interested in a candidate with something on his mind beyond land developers and the chamber crowd. (And, as one neighbor pointed out, "Isn't one government paycheck enough anyway?")

The term limits issue may have had an unintended side effect in the Collins race. It may very well be, as others have suggested, that enough Dems showed up in the 2nd district to support Billy Tindell's death-grip hold on his term-limited seat that they helped push Collins out of his term-limited seat by also voting for Harmon. This may well have been the case. However, many of the people I've talked to claim to have voted for Harmon/Broyles or voted for Harmon alone and skipped the Tindell/Broyles fracas outright.

I'd love to look at some good exit polling data in this district (if any existed) to get a better feel beyond what I have gleaned from talking to my neighbors. Until then, however, I still believe that the Harmon/Collins race was not based on the term limits issue alone and that Collins was facing a good prospect of defeat without adding his name to the lawsuit.

Johnny Ringo's picture

Two Government paychecks

(And, as one neighbor pointed out, "Isn't one government paycheck enough anyway?")

Um, since Collins works for a private firm in his non-political life, from whence derives his "second government paycheck"?

Mr Harmon, on the other hand, is a professor at UT as I understand it. Doesn't that mean he will be receiving two government paychecks now?

Bbeanster's picture

Two Government

Two Government paychecks
Submitted by Johnny Ringo on Sat, 2006/08/05 - 1:28pm.
(And, as one neighbor pointed out, "Isn't one government paycheck enough anyway?")

Um, since Collins works for a private firm in his non-political life, from whence derives his "second government paycheck"?

Mr Harmon, on the other hand, is a professor at UT as I understand it. Doesn't that mean he will be receiving two government paychecks now

Not so fast, there, J Ringo--

I believe that was probably a reference to Mrs. Collins' past employment with the Chamber Partnership. I believe she works for UT now, however.

Although Collins now works in the private sector (if you can call a firm that does as much gubmint bidness as McCarty Holsaple "private sector"), when he was first elected, he was the city architect.

So I kinda got the drift.

The significant point being made here is that Collins hardly ever saw a development he didn't love. Mark Harmon is talking about curbing sprawl and imposing impact fees. Big, big difference. Harmon is going to be a huge pain in the establishment's ass. I can't hardly wait.

Rachel's picture

Mark Harmon is talking about

Mark Harmon is talking about curbing sprawl and imposing impact fees.

Either Channel 6 or 10 (can't remember which) described this as "putting impact fees on current residents."

Sigh.

That was in the same broadcast where they said that 9 incumbents who could turn out to be term limited were re-elected.  No guys, it's 8; Collins lost, remember?

Rachel's picture

The second district

The second district flip/flops between parties (Madeline Rogero held the seat before David Collins).  So a decent Democratic candidate always has a good chance there.

That said, I absolutely believe David Collins put the nail in his own coffin by signing on to the term limits lawsuit, then going on tee vee and saying he only did it to get "clarification."

Nobody believed that anymore than they believed him the day after the election when he said that the didn't think term limits had anything to do with his defeat.

BTW, does anybody have a feel for what Phil Ballard will be like?  He went to Carter High with my cousins, and I took a summer school class with him in the dark ages when we were both about 16, but I haven't seen him since.

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