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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