A Democrat might run..."if there are enough independents"Word has come down that Democrats in the First District are considering putting up another sacrificial lamb for Congress in 2008 against Congressman David Davis. Both WNPC Radio in Newport and the Knoxville News-Sentinel are reporting that Knoxville-based Attorney and Cocke County native Gordon Ball is considering running. Ball isn't even going after Democrats, according to the interview he gave WNPC news director Ray Snader that aired this morning. Ball's exact words were "we're going to do some polling and see if there are enough independents."
I think we have to take it for granted that Ball isn't stupid. He ran for Congress 30 years ago and was quickly dispensed with, so he is doubtless aware that he has about as much chance of unseating any Republican in the First District (which has not elected a Democrat since 1881) as Sanjaya has of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I think Ball has two other motives for running and neither is victory.
In the interview I heard this morning, it became clear to me that Ball's primary campaign theme will be how the Administration has mishandled the War in Iraq. I have mentioned before that you can sense a latent anti-war (not pacifist or even anti-military) sentiment around here that is deep-seated. People are angry with how the war has been handled, they are angry about being misled about the war, and angry that soldiers and Marines from the Fighting First are being injured and killed in a war that was not necessary in the first place. Mr. Ball has doubtless sensed this and wants to play on it politically-something that he can't be blamed for in the least.
The ever-growing anger about the war will not be enough to turn the reddest Congressional district in America into a Democratic seat. To even hope for a respectable showing (40% or higher) Mr. Ball must run on a platform that is identical to his opponent Congressman David Davis on social issues like abortion or marriage, and he must be opposed to any form of gun control. My guess would be that when it comes to these kinds of issues, he will sound exactly like Davis or even attempt to run to his right in some cases. If he sounds too liberal, he won't even be remembered after November of 2008.
I would go so far as to say that if it looks for one minute like the Democratic Party is actually going to contest next November's Congressional election and not just run a token candidate, the entire Republican apparatus will unite behind David Davis as never before in order to insure the Democrats' destruction at the polls.
The second reason Ball may be running is that a respectable showing is something that Democrats in Upper East Tennessee can build on for the future. As much as I personally enjoy watching Democrats get whipped like mayonnaise in nearly every election in these parts, even I must admit that the de facto one-party system that exists in much of East Tennessee isn't good for Republicans because we get plenty of liberals and Democrats who run as Republicans in order to hold office and then sell the Party out. (Mike Williams is the most glaring example of this phenomenon).
It might do well to at least have token Democratic opposition so that we have someone other than each other at which we may direct our ire.