After reading the news and local blogs today, I thought this race was worth revisiting. You know, what with the seismic shifts brought on by Joe Towns getting out of the race and telling his single digit list of supporters to vote for Julian Bolton.
There are some genuinely good people in this race. Many of them are people that I would personally like to see in office. In fact, I wouldn’t even rule out seeing them in the 9th District seat. Someday. Not today. When Joe Torre is looking to complete a Yankees lineup, he looks for people that have held a baseball bat before, players that have been standouts when they played in the minor leagues. He doesn’t pick a neophyte that seems nice and has potential--- He picks seasoned players that he believes have the potential to go on and become even greater.
- Lee Harris seems great. I look at him on the issues, and I find myself agreeing with him more often than not. Let this man get some legislative experience, and you’ve got not only a contender, but a leader in the years and decades to come. I don’t know what area he lives in now, but I know he grew up in Whitehaven. There’s an ethically challenged and vulnerable state senator whose district winds through Whitehaven (I’m not 100% sure where the district lines are drawn, but I know this senator’s campaign HQ was in Whitehaven) that I would love to see Mr. Harris replace. From there, he can build a relationship with constituents, develop a solid reputation that stretches outside his district, and challenge for the seat of his choice from there.
- Ruben Fort – What the hell are you doing? Do you even know? Your best hope was in 2004, when you ran against Harold Ford in the hopes that some half blind old ladies would get the names mixed up and vote for you by accident. Of course, you were a Republican then. Far be it from me to suggest crime, but if you rob a bank, you’ll get better face and name recognition. Maybe strike up a deal with E-Cycle.
- Marvell Mitchell – Something interesting happens if you click on the “issues” banner of his website. Where everyone else tells you where they stand on the issues, he asks you to tell him what’s important to the people of the 9th District. Sorry, but I think you should have a better grasp on the issues by now. You have yet to tell anyone why they should vote for you. An elected leader should be responsive to his constituents--- But you’ve not only told us nothing that you stand for, but you’ve led us to believe that you stand for nothing. Are we to believe you’re going to fly back from DC and put a poll in the field before every vote in the House?
- Ralph White – I went to his website and found it to be extraordinarily light on the issues. With what he did talk about, it looked more like he was running for a local office than a federal one. He is, though, a motivational speaker with the “5 Steps to Success” on his website. So I decided to take his advice. Step 1 is to evaluate your current position. My current position is that I don’t have any idea if Ralph White carries heavy enough lumber to be a congressman. Step 2 is to visualize my desired outcome. Okay, I would like to know if Ralph White carries heavy enough lumber to be a congressman. Step 3 is to create a plan for moving from the starting point to the goal. Okay, that’s why I went to the website. Step 4 is to take steps and act on my plan. Okay, I clicked on the issues thing and found more self-help drivel than useful information. Step 5 is to repeat steps 1-4 if necessary. Sorry, there are only so many times I can read the Ralph White website in search of something of substance. Substance on the White website is as elusive as Iraqi WMDs.
- Bill Whitman – I looked at his website, and I think that on many (Not all--- He and I would have a good argument over a woman’s right to choose) issues, he’s on point. He falls into the same category as Lee Harris--- Please run for something else. Get the experience and gravitas that are necessary to stand out in a race like this one.
- Tyson Pratcher – Before anyone feels the need to tell me, I’m aware that he dropped out. But he falls into that Lee Harris/ Bill Whitman category. I want to hear more from you. But 2006 is not your year. You play in the minors before the Yankees call you up.
- Joe “MySpace” Ford. Uh huh. Next.
- Laura Davis-Aaron – Who are you?
And now we come to the candidates that I absolutely loathe.
- Ed “Southern Strategy” Stanton – Why do I call him “Southern Strategy”, when the Southern Strategy is clearly a Republican ideal? Because he’s running it in reverse. Stanton has decided that he can do without every non-black vote in the district as long as he solidifies the black vote. He’s not the only one, mind you. Perhaps the reason I’m so angry over this is simply that I feel betrayed by the Stanton campaign. I didn’t get to attend the candidate forum--- I listened to a tape recording of it over the course of a car ride to Nashville with Brad Watkins and Frank Burhart. I was excited by what I heard out of Ed Stanton. We were working with a candidate for another office at the time, and we deliberately held out on mentioning the abysmal infant mortality rate in Memphis simply because Stanton was talking about it, and we wanted him to own that issue going into the primary. No way were we gonna steal his thunder on it. And how did he follow it up? By playing the race card the first chance he got, and every opportunity he’s had since then. When I’m looking for someone to vote for, I look for a man of the people--- Not a half-man that represents some of the people. Your campaign over the last few months has lacked the substance of a loose bowel movement. If you never stink up Memphis politics again, it’s still too soon for my taste.
- Ron Redwing – Much like Stanton, only with less substance. All he can come up with as a reason to vote for him is “Vote for me or a white guy gets the job” (Which differs from Stanton only in the sense that Stanton says “Jew”). I keep thinking back to Dr. King, who wanted us to judge a man by the content of his character… And I find that Redwing has no character. Bye bye, Ronnie. Your stench is so overpowering that I have a tough time saying the name of my favorite hockey team.
- Julian Bolton – The last time I wrote about the candidates, I lamented the fact that you’d served for over two decades on the Shelby County Commission without really building enough of a record to run on. Unfortunately, in an attempt to build more of a name for yourself, you seem to have taken the Stanton/ Redwing route. He was recently quoted in the Commercial Appeal as saying "We need someone who's going to put our interests first. Do you think he's going to be able to do that with all of that going on in Israel?" Captain Subtext wasn’t very subtle here. He said, in essence, “A Jew can’t represent you.” Of course, what he also said, quite accidentally, was “I don’t have the gravitas to tackle one of our biggest foreign policy issues these days”. After all, did he not just say he wanted to ignore the war between Lebanon and Israel, which even besides the human toll, further destabilizes the foreign oil markets? Isn’t a hike in gas prices something that affects the 9th District? How sad is this? Someone with over two decades’ experience still isn’t ready for prime time.
Last, but not least of the candidates I won’t be endorsing is one that I couldn’t bring myself to put in the list with the others simply because she’s pissed me off enough to defy categorization.
Nikki Tinker started off her campaign with even less substance than Ralph White, which is near unimaginable. It’s only in the last couple of months that she’s had anything to say other than “I’m not prepared to talk about the issues at this time”. If that’s the case, then why in the hell were you running? Did you need more office space? Did you just like the title?
And now… You’re still not talking about the issues very much. You sent out a libelous mailer that devoted so much time and space to attacking Steve Cohen (Mostly on spurious, false charges) that it took a couple of glances to realize who sent it out. The campaign literature reads like the copy was written by Karl Rove or Lee Atwater.
You went from irrelevance to outright stupidity over the course of the last few months, and it’s not been overlooked.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the same room as you. I held my tongue. I tried to remain civil. I thought you were a pretty worthless candidate at the time. I’ve simply got no use for anyone that waits until six months after starting the campaign to develop a platform.
Next time, I won’t. And if it means I get the opportunity to publicly embarrass you, then all the better. Your attempt to make yourself sound like a frontrunner have been noted, but we all know that you’re going to be battling for third place. That’s still a couple of places higher than you deserve to be.
Now, on to more pleasant subjects.
Please allow me to reiterate my support for Steve Cohen in the 9th District primary. I’m not backing him because his skin color is closer to my own, as the Stanton/ Redwing/ Bolton-ites love to claim. I’m backing him because he has decades of experience running clean campaigns, legislating a true progressive agenda (Although even I would go a few rounds with him on his opposition to gun control and his position on capital punishment), and serving his constituents like no other representative out there.
I had never even had any substantive conversation with Cohen until a couple of weeks ago, and it reinforced everything I thought about him. He’s the real deal. He’s ready for prime time.
Steve Cohen… The next Congressman for Tennessee’s 9th District.