Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Will Wilder survive again?

Today we will find out just how much staying power Lieutenant Governor John Wilder actually has. In my pre-interview phone conversation with him, Tennessee House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower called Republican turncoat Mike Williams a "lost cause," but he said nothing about whether any Democrats might cross over in a similar way to what Williams did in the last session and is likely to do today.

Mumpower is close to Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey, John Wilder's nominated Republican opponent. Ramsey is, Mumpower admits, the man who is largely responsible for his entry into politics to begin with. Because of their close relationship, I think that the learned observer can reasonably assume that Mumpower would have some knowledge if there were some backroom negotiations to get a Democrat or two to vote for the Republican Leader. In our radio interview yesterday, Mumpower hinted at the fact that such negotiations may indeed be taking place, but of course he was not definitive-he called the situation "delicate."

This much appears to be the situation: Senator Jerry Cooper won't vote for Wilder. The indicted Senator sought "help" from Wilder to secure a bank loan for the buyers of his lumber mill. This ultimately lead to a federal indictment for bank and mail fraud, as Cooper was accused of securing the loan under false pretenses. Cooper says that Lt. Gov. John Wilder, a BankTennessee Director, told him that he would help him. Wilder later claimed he did not talk to Cooper about the loan. I tihnk it is fair to say that Cooper has reason to blame John Wilder for part of his troubles. The only question at this point is whether he will abstain from the vote, or give Ron Ramsey 17 votes.



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