Just as Post Politics predicted, former Democratic State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan has dropped out of the race for governor so that she may run for mayor of Clarksville. The odds of her winning that election are much higher given the dire financial situation of her statewide campaign.
McMillan's move now leaves Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, as the only major Democrat left in the race. Previous candidates in the field were McMillan, Nashville businessman Ward Cammack, state Sen. Roy Herron (who is now running for U.S. Congress), and state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis.
McWherter praised McMillan's candidacy and wished her the best in a statement released to the media. He said, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to stand alongside Kim McMillan throughout this gubernatorial campaign. Kim has proven to be an articulate, strong voice for common sense leadership and I wish her the best as she explores a new direction in public service. I believe Kim would be an outstanding Mayor for Clarksville and I’ll do whatever I can to support her efforts moving forward.”
With McMillan out, the McWherter campaign can now focus on the general election and the Republican nominees. This means a substantial savings in campaign dollars and gives McWherter time to connect with voters without worrying about who is nipping at his heels.
On the negative side, months of a rivalry can sharpen a candidate's skills oratorically and the efforts of a campaign staff. There is an old axiom in politics that the two worst things for a candidate are running unopposed or scared.
McWherter will have to show that is not a disadvantage in August when he will face a road-tested and battle-hardened Republican in what is now a predominantly Republican state.