That Gibbons FellowAs someone who has run for office, been defeated, and would like to seek office again at some point, I have great respect for Shelby County Attorney General Bill Gibbons' desire to run for Governor of Tennessee. At some point in everyone's political race, however, they have to face certain realities-they have to get real:
Memphis prosecutor Bill Gibbons reported Thursday raising about $415,000 for the 2010 governor's race, placing him well behind his three GOP rivals.
Gibbons, the Shelby County District Attorney General, will face an uphill battle against well-financed opponents. Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam's campaign announced Wednesday that he had raised about $3.8 million this year.
State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville announced the same day he had raised $1.3 million, and Congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga said he had raised about $1.2 million.
To be fair, everyone else in the field faces an uphill climb against all of that Haslam oil money and the big contributions coming in from people who (if the truth were known) probably believe that they had better contribute to Bill Haslam so that they are on his good side if he is elected. However, both Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey-who had the disadvantage of being unable to raise money during the legislative session-are showing that if their support isn't wider than Bill Gibbons, it is certainly deeper. Ramsey's fundraising feat of raising $1.3 million in a month is nothing short of miraculous.
The reality that Gibbons has not been under the same restrictions as Ramsey, but could only muster $415,000 is a sign that his campaign is anemic. In Gibbons' case, this isn't just about money. A lot of people on the other side of the State do not know who Gibbons is, and sadly when some of them find out, they often do not care. "I'm the Shelby County District Attorney" isn't often a great selling point in Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, Maryville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Crossville, Murphreesboro, Franklin, or points in between. His message has been obscured by the question "Bill who" in many places. At least with Jim Kyle, people might get that he is a State Senator from Memphis, and that he currently serves as the Tennessee Senate's Democratic Leader.
Gibbons also must deal with the hard truth that the Republican Primary can be won without Shelby County, and that Republicans can carry the State without it in a General Election. If the Democrats were to lose Shelby County, however, it would likely be the political signal of a Republican landslide at the State level. As a Republican, I'd love to carry Shelby County and do it more consistently, but I also know it isn't necessary and that we can get the numbers we need to win somewhere else. That is the hard reality.
I hope that perhaps Gibbons will give running for Governor another try, perhaps after spending a few years in the General Assembly.