Conservatives in Tennessee finally have what they want. A conservative is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, with plenty of money to run a credible campaign. So, if Tennessee is so conservative how come the conservative is running neck and neck with a center-right Democrat?
The race between Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen may shatter the myth that Tennessee is a deep red conservative state, an article of faith deeply held by radio talk show hosts, their unrepresentative but vociferous audience members and conservative websites. Groups that exert entirely too much influence on Republican candidates.
In the recent Republican gubernatorial primary Diane Black was clearly the conservative candidate. Everybody knew that Randy Boyd and Bill Lee were just pretending to be conservatives. Black came in third.
If Blackburn loses, how likely will it be that the Republicans will ever put up another real conservative? Blackburn’s message has simply been “I’m a President Trump supporter and he’s not.” And she helped stop the state income tax. Sixteen years ago. (Some of us were also there, but give her credit for become the talk radio heroine.)
Bredesen is going after Republicans and independents in addition to Democrats. Blackburn appears to be going after Trump voters. I think it’s a losing strategy, but what do I know? I thought two months before the primary that Boyd’s negative ads were hurting him as much as Black.
If there is one conservative issue that Tennesseans do seem to agree on, however, it is that the Supreme Court has exceeded its brief on issues like gay marriage. Every day that the Democrats delay a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh it should be helping Blackburn, raising the specter that the Democrats will run out the clock until they get control of the U.S. Senate. With Bredesen’s help. Blackburn ought to have ads on right now raising the prospect that the election of Bredesen and the Democrats taking control means losing the opportunity to get a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Even if Kavanaugh is approved, a Democratic senator has threatened that if they get control they will investigate him even as a sitting Supreme Court Justice.
Should the Democrats capture the House you can expect Trump to be impeached. If the Democrats also control the Senate a kangaroo court is inevitable.
The Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare. They haven’t. They promised a middle-class tax cut and they passed a cut in corporate taxes and cuts heavily weighted toward the top 10 percent of earners. (What did you get from the tax cut? A Christmas bonus?) They promised a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. What happens if they don’t deliver on that one?
If you asked the average Tennessean whether they would forgo the tax cut rather than add a trillion dollars more to the deficit what do you think they would say? Anybody remember the late, lamented Tea Party? (Corporate tax collections have dropped $100 billion a year or one trillion dollars over the next decade.)
Republican voters are much less forgiving than Democrats. A Republican officeholder can vote with his constituents nine out of 10 times but will face the wrath of God for not going 10 for 10. His voters will vote to punish him.
It may be that Republican voters are so fed up with broken promises by Republicans that they will join a blue wave in the mid-term elections. That’s because these days many “Republicans” are actually independents that have been voting with the Republicans lately, thanks mostly to Barack Obama. This is especially true in West Tennessee, long a Democratic stronghold, which has been voting Republican in recent years. Watch them go home to Bredesen in this Senate race.
The price is right: University of Tennessee is looking for its next president, an administrative job that does not require a PhD in English Lit or Chemistry. Except that it usually does in academia. Randy Boyd is proposed to be the interim president for up to two years. He is from Tennessee and is a UT graduate, which is a strike against him. He doesn’t have a post-graduate degree. Strike Two. He has common sense and has spent time in the political world helping get kids into higher education, working with the legislature, rather than in an ivory tower.
UT has been known to blow a lot of money on administrators. But I doubt they would have the money to hire someone with the depth of business experience and administrative ability that Boyd possesses. Despite those three strikes against him, he ought to be hired as the university’s president for as long as he is willing to do it. He can hire an academic to be chancellor.
I suspect he would be able to work with the legislature and he might even be able to defuse the annual war over Sex Week.