Monday, October 15, 2007

One Mike shows up, but we don't see the other

On Saturday, Nicole and I had the opportunity to attend Rogersville Heritage Days. We love fairs and festivals, so it wasn't exactly difficult to decide to go up there. As usual the food was great, and the entertainment (especially the Celtic ensemble Fire in the Kitchen) was top notch and was absolutely free. We even brought home a couple of jars of good honey and I got a bag of natural honey candy. I even managed to find Nicole a birthday present.

The Master of Ceremonies for the entertainment at Heritage Days was none other than our next State Senator Mike Faulk. Why am I so quick to say that Faulk will win the election next year? The answer is simple: Mike Faulk shows up. Clearly Mike enjoys himself and when he wasn't on the stage introducing the various acts, he was walking around the festival shaking hands and handing out campaign cards. The difference between Mike Faulk and many other people in public life is that he doesn't need to be doing this, he is running out of a sheer desire to serve. As a result, he doesn't act in the least like he is campaigning-he just enjoys being around people.

Granted, I've come to be a supporter of Mike Faulk, so it is true that I have my biases where he is concerned. It is also true, as Mike pointed out to me, that he and I have grown closer over the last year, and each of us has come to consider the other a friend. As a result of that, it is all too easy for me to look above and beyond the politics of a situation because he and I are often (again, to quote him) "on the same wavelength." It isn't that we always see eye-to-eye, but we view politics, public life, and public service in such a similar light that our similarities are much deeper than mere philosophy. We've even had the shared experience of working in radio-separated at birth, perhaps?

Even knowing all of that, I think it is fair to ask this question considering that there is a State Senate Race on in the 4th District: Where on God's green Earth was Mike Williams this past weekend? Festivals such as Heritage Days are a notorious repository of politicians for the very reason that they are filled with the very voters who get public officials elected and re-elected. Yet at a well-publicized festival filled with visitors from all over the 4th Senate District and beyond, Senator Mike Williams was nowhere to be seen. Yes, the Faulk Law Firm was a sponsor of Heritage Days, and yes, this is Hawkins County, Mike Faulk's back yard. But Mike Williams cannot win re-election by winning Union County alone.

Is he so ashamed of his reputation as a ship-jumper that he will not even show his face? There are rumors abounding that he is considering not running for re-election at all. I have heard from at least one source that Williams is considering running for the House in District 36, where Rep. William Baird could be retiring. Williams rarely, if ever returns constituent phone calls, and can be heard from in mailers only when trying to make himself look good. He didn't begin this way, but the way he has apparently chosen to end his career is truly shameful.

While it is true that the sudden appearance of Borat at any festival would likely turn the affair into some twisted comedy routine, and The Daily Kos did Williams no favors in this district by highlighting his switch Friday, he is still the State Senator until January 2009. Apparently, that doesn't mean much to him.

NOTE: Nicole took some pictures at Heritage Days on 35mm film (the digital camera ran out of battery). When we have time to scan them and get them up, there will be a few Heritage Days pictures in the next couple of days.



At Monday, October 15, 2007 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Sean Braisted said...

In Nashville, there was one candidate, Richard Exton, who had been campaigning tirelessly for 2 years prior to the Metro Council election. He showed up at just about every event imaginable, and worked hard...but in the end, they guy who barely lifted a finger except to raise money, managed to win on name recognition and television ads.

At Monday, October 15, 2007 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Deacon David Oatney said...

A.) If there is one thing Mike Faulk doesn't have to worry about around here, it is name recognition, since his law firm is all over the place and has sponsored lots of community events over the years.

B.) The strategy you describe may work fine in a large, highly populated urban areas like Nashville/Davidson. It is extremely poor strategy in a heavily rural, agrarian "country district" like the 4th, where people remember faces and contact as well as (and often more than) names alone.

Mike Williams is not stupid, he knows all of this, because that is how he has both campaigned and communicated with his constituents in the past-he came to festivals, fairs, and even birthday parties. Now no one sees the man...

He either takes victory for granted (which he can't, because Faulk is raising money aplenty) or he expects to lose.

Finally, word has gotten out that outside of Union County, he is taking a ribbing in the places he does go. If that is true, it is time he stand up and speak for himself in a very public way or prepare to be taken down in a blaze of mighty mountain Scots-Irish anger.

At Monday, October 15, 2007 11:23:00 PM, Blogger Steve Steffens said...

The state and local GOP is targeting Williams just like we targeted Don McLeary last year, so I would not be surprised to see Faulk win.

However, if there are no Democrats running (and why would they in District 4? That's like a GOP in District 33, no chance at all.) It could come down to the Democrats, independents and Republicans who are upset with the direction the GOP has gone making it a closer race than anyone expected.

At Tuesday, October 16, 2007 9:53:00 AM, Blogger Deacon David Oatney said...

No one-not Mike Faulk and certainly not me-expects that Williams will go down without a fight...

He is, in fact, getting money from the Democratic Caucus, and that is who is really helping him fund his run. In that sense there is a Democrat running, and Williams is that person. A lot of folks believe that the only reason that he switched to "independent" is because he would get badly beaten as a Democrat. I got ahold of some poll information that showed that in a two-way Republican Primary, Faulk would have drubbed Williams by 19 points.

I suspect Williams was made aware of this, and was thus decided that running as an independent was the only prayer he had of keeping his seat.

Then again, I don't believe that he has made it official yet that he is running for re-election to the Senate...


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