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Frist needs to avoid Gore disease
Apr 07, 2005 12:00 am
April 7, 2005
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is the second Tennessean in the last decade to become a central figure in White House electoral politics. And what he must guard against when it comes to his home state is Al Gore disease.
Gore's disconnect with the Volunteer State after years in Washington as vice president literally cost him the White House when he failed to carry his home state – or even his old Congressional district.
Frist, as witnessed by his missteps in the national furor over the Terri Schiavo case, is himself now caught up in the vortex of national politics and inside the Beltway battles. His priorities are Washington priorities, and his spare time these days is spent in New Hampshire, not in Tennessee.
As Senate majority leader, Frist has little choice. Certainly, Tennessee Republicans are not complaining about Frist's more national presence in Tennessee. And the Tennessee GOP collective checkbook will crack open readily when he does begin to make his push in earnest for the 2008 White House race.
Perhaps the danger for Frist in his home state is whether or not another national name in the GOP might be able to beat him in Tennessee in the national high school popularity contest that has become presidential politics.
Should another candidate have the national buzz coming into a now much earlier Tennessee primary – perhaps a Sen. John McCain or a Gov. Jeb Bush – Frist could see Tennesseans waver in their support.
It is admittedly a long way off, but Frist must guard against the mistakes Gore made with Democrats in Tennessee if he wants the state's primary voters behind him beyond simply writing checks. He won a tough race in 1994 when he was first elected but he has not had to run hard in Tennessee since then.
Term Extensions and Senatorial Aspirations
Legislative Plaza sources say Republicans in the state Legislature have begun asking a new question about Lebanon's now controversial private act to extend elected city officials' terms over a year to 2006.
Is the term extension and city election realignment it seeks to accomplish simply a ruse to set Lebanon Mayor Don Fox up to run against State Sen. Mae Beavers in 2006?
It is a question legislative Republicans are said to be asking amid the odd furor over the bill, a private act that would impact only Lebanon.
Despite the bill's narrow scope, it has become the subject of a committee battle and is bogged down in a lowly subcommittee amid hundreds of telephone calls objecting to the term extensions from residents.
Fox jumped out and expressed interest in possibly running for Beavers' seat last year, only to quickly back off. And though he went hot and then very cold on the idea of running, he did say he was a Democrat and would run as a Democrat.
Fox having his term extended would mean he would be the mayor without facing another election until 2006 – until he could potentially run for State Senate.
Should Fox have to run this year – an increasing possibility – he would have to literally turn around after a presumed victory over Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer and begin running against Beavers or perhaps even a field of Democratic primary opponents from across the sprawling 17th Senate District.
It is a set of possibilities given Fox's statements last year that bear watching for Republicans as Beavers – a freshman senator in an evenly split district – will likely be the Democrats No. 1 target in the Senate in 2006.