On the Tennessee Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

I had this plan to get all General George S. Patton on the several of you out there that are so very certain that the remaining candidates, Kim McMillan and Mike McWherter, are somehow incapable of winning against “generic Republican 2010”.

Partially because I am not, nor never will be Patton, and partially because I am who I am, I’ve decided that some free-flowing rant in the persona of Patton would likely confuse people, or worse, not work, I’ve decided another track.

Also, for the record, the thought of writing in the oratorical style of General Patton is both too time consuming and explicative ridden, as entertaining as it might be.

All that said, the notion that all is lost is both dismissive and insulting, not only to me as a Democrat, but to the candidates in question. They, more than anyone else, have put their time, heart and souls into their respective campaign operations. If that’s not good enough for you, then how about you shoot them an email rather than kick and scream like a toddler.

I’m just sayin’, some things are better dealt with on a more personal bit-to-bit basis.

Now that many of you have had an evening to drink your tear filled beers, let’s look at the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary race with a little more rationality.

What started as five has become two. One of those five was a well-intentioned, though politically unknown individual that, despite his work and that of some very able operatives, never gained any traction. Another saw more opportunity in a race that became available soon after the announced retirement of John Tanner. The third, is a distinguished leader in the State Senate who, hampered by the time/fundraising constraints and responsibilities of his office, saw fit to exit the field well before the petition deadline.

That’s the reality.

With Cammack, we all knew that, while some of his ideas were pretty interesting, he didn’t have much of a chance. Politics is a relationship business, and he didn’t have enough relationships statewide to pull it off. The questions about his past giving didn’t help. Really, it was an impossible situation.

For Herron, he seized the moment, and got out in front of the story. By all accounts, he is the clear frontrunner in the 8th Democratic Primary race.

For Kyle, the reality is that he simply couldn’t raise enough money fast enough. Sure, he raised a sight more than most, but even back when he visited Drinking Liberally in the summer there were questions about his ability to raise money, or have a big enough stockpile to last through session. That’s just reality.

We need to break with the old convention of, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line”. Falling in love with our candidates has never really served Democrats all that well. Many of us fell in love with one or the other of the candidates that have left the race. Now, for those of you who find yourself without a candidate in the running, there’s an opportunity to get out there and see what the remaining two have to offer. In order to do this, you have to divest yourself of the notions that one or the other of them “can’t win” because of x.

The two candidates that remain have been zipping from one end of the state to the other to talk to voters and supporters. They’ve been working their butts off criss-crossing this VERY LONG state for months. Instead of pouting about how “our guy” got out of the race (and I’m not just talking about Kyle, but all three) we need to spend our energy getting to know them and their vision for the state better, and then get to work on electing one of them.

As far as I’m concerned, the primary is over. I’m not saying that any one candidate is assured victory in the primary. That’s not my point. The primary isn’t the race, it never really was, the general is. Both campaigns should be spending the remaining months showing us which one of them is going to kick the Republicans in the nads the best. Who can best articulate their vision? Who is going to be the best that Tennessee has to offer?

Once we know the answer to that question, we’ll have our candidate…and the sooner the better.

Do we face a lot of challenges going into November? Absolutely. Republican candidates have raised a lot more money than the Democrats. The state is teetering further and further to the right as the Democratic Party becomes more fractured on many levels, one of the biggest of these being the rural/urban divide, which is second only to a lack of a clear and concisely stated Democratic vision and leadership from all quarters within the party establishment.

There’s a lot of suffering out there in the state, and while Tennesseans are a proud, stubborn people, the overriding sentiment is that our government has forgotten about the regular folk out there just trying to make a life in this crazy world of ours. In order to win, we have to demonstrate how we intend to positively impact their lives and instill hope in them that this is not only possible, but our number one priority.

If we can do this, we have a damn good shot at winning in November, but we all have to quit with the pity party, and get to work. Use whatever metric you want to choose your preferred candidate, but remember, at the end of the day, our job is to elect A DEMOCRAT, because as Democrats we believe that ANY Democrat is a sight better than even the most moderate Republican.

We have a tall hill to climb, but hopefully, the narrowing of choices over the past few months will make it easier for all of us to come together to elect the next Democratic Governor of the State of Tennessee.

The ball is in our court Democrats, it’s time to run with it.

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