Since Mike McWherter decided not to run for Senate against the popular Lamar Alexander, the Democratic Party of Tennessee has yet to identify any serious challenger. That's too bad. I know it would be a long shot and then some to defeat Lamar Alaexander, but the Party ought to be able to find someone who can try. This election does, after all, have the potential to be a good one for Democrats, and I happen to believe that a young and inspirational figure campaigning to change the tone in Washington might do alright in Tennessee.
Of course, 2006 was a good election for Democrats, and Tennessee was the only place where that general trend went unrealized.
So, back to the question I asked at that time...the question on which I began this blog. What's the Matter with Tennessee? Has Tennessee become so conservative that anyone with a D by his/her name is doomed from the start? Surely not. What about moderate Democrats who believe in strong national defense (like Jim Webb) and/or who consider abortion worthy of limitation (like Bob Casey)? Couldn't a bipartisan who is not indebted to special interests, willing to accept reasonable limits on abortion rights, and strongly supportive of rationality in our national defense (that means avoiding over extension and sending troops into battles without a clear plan for post-war stability and reconstruction) do pretty well against Lamar? Sure Lamar is popular, and he is a good man who clearly favors discussion and compromise more than many of his GOP colleagues in the Senate, but he is a kind man in a bitter and divisive system. He is a leader because he knows how to operate in tat system, and he is popular, at least in part for all the earmarked funds he can bring to Tennessee from that post. It would take a serious challenge and a fairly significant vote shift, but don't the people of Tennessee at least deserve an option?
Partisan rancor is alot like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but nobody ever seems to do anything about it. The big question for Obama is can he? If he can do something about it, then he will need a new generation of Senators to help. Is Alexander up to the task? He may well be. I certainly respect his long record of service to the state of Tennessee, and he has always been kind to me, but a challenger is needed to force him to consider the new state of affairs and show us he is able to deliver what we increasingly want as a new tone in Washington.
Six years is a long time. He has not had to campaign since 2002. He beat Bob Clement that year. If he does not face a challenger this time, he will be able to serve 12 years without explaining to the people how he sees his job as our representative in the Senate.
If no one challenges this time, Tennessee will not even HAVE a Senate race until 2012 when Bob Corker's term finishes.
Is there no one available?