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Ford tour follows exit strategy pattern
Apr 07, 2005 12:00 am
April 1, 2005
Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is embarking on a tour of the state this week to further plum the potential for a 2006 Senate run.
However, the rather low key tour may do little to pacify increasingly anxious Tennessee Democrats who are beginning to question what their party will do if Ford backs away from the Senate race.
Ford is presently on a swing through mainly suburban cities speaking to civic groups and students as he continues to flirt with an announcement he will seek Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's seat.
However, March has come and gone without a Ford announcement. That is significant because Ford's staff and closest supporters placated Democrats with a promise that March would bring an announcement after reports of a February kick off for the campaign never materialized.
Ford's present tour of the state follows the same pattern as his 2000 and 2002 flirtations with the Senate, where he backed off the idea of running for Senate shortly after completing a statewide tour.
Backing away from the Senate race now, though with each passing day more a reality, would hurt Ford with Democrats eager for a man regarded as a national star for the party to deliver back home as well.
Before he was Lebanon City Councilor William Farmer, city government's cantankerous "flat tire" – as he is called by the mayor – was chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, overseeing a resurgence in Democratic politics in the state in 2002 elections.
Farmer's political skills – and apparent clout – have been in display recently in Nashville where he has managed to fight Lebanon Mayor Don Fox, Lebanon City Council and the entire Tennessee Municipal League to a standstill.
The point of contention, of course, has been the legislation to extend the terms of Fox and the Council in order to realign typically low turnout city elections with major state and national elections.
With the aid of lobbyists friends, Farmer launched his own legislation and tied up the Lebanon term extension bill indefinitely in committee.
Clearly, Nashville is Farmer's home court and not the rest of city government's.
The term extension battle, regardless of the outcome, has been a clear cut political victory for Farmer who has kept Fox and the rest of the Council on the defensive and on the road to Nashville fighting for a private act that usually would be a non-issue and pass without notice.
The real question now becomes should the private act die, will it pave the way for a Fox/Farmer mayoral race this fall? Political observers in Wilson County should only be so lucky.