With the rest of the political universe in or on the verge of chaos, somebody buy Tom Ingram a cigar with a vodka chaser. His job for 2008 in Tennessee is pretty damn easy by the looks of things.
Ingram, chief of staff and chief political strategist for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is up for re-election this year, doesn't have to worry if his campaign will continue after South Carolina like Fred Thompson does. And unlike Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Ingram isn't sweating about forcing votes that will stick in State Sen. Jim Kyle's craw and hopefully regain an outright majority in the state senate.
Nope, Ingram can pretty choose between getting his boss' colleagues re-elected to the U.S. Senate or working on his golf game – whatever strikes his fancy. Why? Because a competitive race developing against Lamar is about as likely as a John Ford entrapment defense at ongoing public corruption trials.
When Jackson, Tenn., businessman Mike McWherter, son of the popular former Gov. Ned McWherter, opted out of challenging Alexander in November, Democratic prospects for mounting a decent campaign went through the floor. Then Gov. Phil Bredesen effectively killed what hope his own party had by saying that McWherter did the smart thing and Democrats really didn't have a chance at knocking off the man in plaid.
Soon after Bredesen made that comment, former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke, who openly toyed with the idea of a senate run and has nominal statewide name recognition, said he was a no go. There was a short buzz surrounding Nashville businessman Andrew Byrd, who could have self-financed, but that, too, went nowhere. Now the biggest name the Democratic establishment can muster up as a possibility is Nashville attorney Kevin Doherty, who has yet to make up his mind.
While the filing deadline for the race isn't until April 3, only one person has officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. NashvillePost.com has heard two other names.
Chris Lugo, who has run for office before as a Green Party candidate, announced yesterday that he was the "candidate for peace" and would qualify as a Democrat. Gary Davis, an unknown who ran in the 2006 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate against Harold Ford, Jr. and garnered about 10 percent of the vote, is said to have picked up qualifying papers along with former Tennessee Attorney General staff attorney and environmentalist Lynne Todd Edgerton.
Like lambs to the slaughter, Democratic hopes for at least mounting a credible campaign against Alexander and forcing Ingram to think about this race during his drive to work are pretty much done. At this rate, John Jay Hooker would be a lock.
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