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Coming Soon! The End of Al Gore's Political Career?

August 15, 2002

Tennesseans have a proud history of helping out Texans when they need help in a fight, ex. the Alamo (supplying volunteer fighters), San Jacinto (supplying the winning general), bringing them into the Union (supplying the President), and more recently the Presidential election in 2000 (supplying the winning electoral votes).

Well, Mr. President, based on the Tennessee August 1 primary results, it is about to happen again - Tennesseans will vote in November to keep this state in a GOP majority; with the added bonus of driving a wooden stake into the heart of Al Gore's political future.

I have written on the tax and spend policies of Tennessee's lame duck GOP governor, Don Sundquist, and the Democrat controlled legislature. The grassroots momentum gained by defeating them when they tried to implement a state income tax at an 11:30p Sunday night session carried over into the primary. If you were an incumbent GOP state legislator and/or were endorsed by Sundquist, you are probably looking for a new job right now. If you were an incumbent, unopposed-by-either-party Democrat state legislator that voted for the state income tax AND went into the primary thinking you had no ballot opposition in November, then you are probably now facing a strong GOP candidate who qualified via a primary write-in campaign. Local GOP grassroots organizers are to be congratulated for making all this happen.

Now let's look at key statewide and federal races.

Fred Thompson's Senate seat: This will most likely not be much of a contest. Lamar Alexander's election to the governorship (two times) several years back created and solidified Tennessee's first statewide GOP/conservative voter base. He should be able to repeat that performance in this race. A Nashville comedy morning radio show (no, not talk radio) recently said Alexander's opponent, Bob Clement, "put the dim in Democrat." Gore's involvement in this race is practically non-existent. His name or picture is no-where to be found on the Clement for Senate website.

Governor: This will be a tighter race. GOP Van Hilleary has done a good job of distancing himself from the failures of the incumbent GOP governor. Hilleary is currently the 4th District Congressman, a seat once held by Al Gore, when he claimed to be conservative. In 2000, Hilleary was re-elected with 66% (!) of the vote. An unheard of margin in the heart of yellow dog Democrat territory. His opponent, Phil Bredesen, was a very popular mayor of Nashville. He raised the Nashville limelight by negotiating the arrival of the Tennessee Titans NFL team and other professional sports teams. Bredesen has distanced himself from Gore. No pictures, no references on his campaign website. Bredesen's Titans deal and other sports deals appear to be unraveling, so that could represent a problem for him. Prediction: A close race, hopefully a Hilleary win. That would clearly provide the wooden stake to drive into Al Gore's political life. But, wait… not the hammer to drive it in. (Stay with me now.) The hammer will come from elsewhere.

(Congressional Districts 1,2,3,5,6,8,9: All have incumbents on the ballot. Prediction: Whether Democrat or Republican, each is secure.)

(Congressional District 7: Incumbent Ed Bryant ran against Alexander in the primary and lost. Prediction: Primary winner, GOP state senator Marsha Blackburn is a shoe-in.)

Congressional District 4: Back in the spring, the Democratic National Committee designated this open race for Hilleary's seat as critical (and winnable) for winning back control of the U.S. House. In the primary, Al Gore publicly endorsed Lincoln Davis, a good ol' boy veteran/establishment/mud slinging state and local Democrat politician. Davis's opponent was a new candidate (never run for office): energetic, wealthy former small business owner, Fran Marcum. Marcum received the endorsement from Democrat women groups. So much for Al walking the talk! Davis won.
On the GOP side, Janice Bowling, former schoolteacher, a city alderman and Hilleary district field representative, handily beat the Sundquist backed/ "country club" GOP candidate. She did it by walking/driving the district and sticking to conservative principles: lower taxes, a citizen's right to bear arms, strong defense, repeal of the death tax, teaching our kids America's founding principles, etc. At a recent stump speech, she gave one of the best reasons for requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag in schools that I have ever heard. It was not based on superficial, artificially sweeten patriotism. It was based on founding principles and pragmatic crowd control (a problem in today's classrooms):
"I (Janice talking) support the requiring of the Pledge of Allegiance in each classroom. It starts the day with unity and order." You have to love a candidate that thinks and talks like that. 4th District Tennesseans will in November.
Prediction: Open your windows around 7pm CDT, November 5 and you will hear a distant hammering sound coming from Tennessee.



Sam T. Harper graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University.  Following a tour in the US Navy and a stint as Operations Manager at Roadway Express, he earned his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  He was a contributor to “In Search of Excellence,” the best selling business book of all time.  Sam was also Manager, Economic Planning & Analysis at Sohio Petroleum, Partner and Chief Financial Officer at investment-banking firm Bridgemere Capital, and Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Contemporary Studies, a San Francisco Bay Area-based think tank and international publishing firm that specializes in self-governing and entrepreneurial public policy.  Sam was a chairman of the San Francisco Republican party and the GOP co-host of California Political Review on KALW-FM in San Francisco.  Sam is currently the co-owner of the Tennessee based Institute for Local Effectiveness Training, LLC – a management consulting, training, and coaching firm.