In the wake of thehuge off-year win for Tennessee Republicans and Pat Marsh in State House District 62, the question has arisen as to how this will impact the influence over the next year ofHouse Speaker Kent Williams' influence and how the outcome of this race might impact Williams' position. Some have said Williams is better off because he and his new PAC funneled money into the Marsh campaign. Others have said that Kent Williams had little impact on the ground game in the 62nd, and Marsh doesn't owe anything at all to the Speaker.
Former Democratic Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh was politely put in his place at an informational meeting on the budget Thursday. What does that mean?:
"I'll never use the phrase 'the Naifeh boys' again, I think the day is here when we can move on from Naifeh's era to other things," Niceley said in a phone call discussing progress in the last legislative session. Perhaps we now know why Niceley believes this, because Speaker Kent Williams and Knoxville Democratic Rep. Harry Tindell demonstrated Thursday that the "Speaker Emeritus" isfinally and completely irrelevant.
The dayHarry Tindelland Kent Williams(a Republican who voted for Naifeh for Speaker in 2006, and who Democratselected Speaker partly at Naifeh's urging) give Jimmy Naifeh the polite beat-down is the day Jimmy Naifeh doesn't matter anymore, and we know that his reign is truly at an end. We might even see Naifeh announce in the coming year that he won't run for re-election.
The greatest danger Republicans will likely encounter in the wake of such a major off-year victory is the specter of triumphalism. The GOP must not get into the trap that they are "destined" to achieve victory, and that they somehow don't have to work for it. That attitude will lead to electoral defeat (seeBritish General Election of 1992,Sheffield Rally), and could ruin years of attempts to achieve the absolute majority which Republicans only seemingly achieved this past Tuesday night.
The first and most importantvictor was Tennessee State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney. Devaneyhas now proven that he can be a serious player in the rough-and-tumble world of State-level politics, and will likely silence critics who had expressed concern that his Washington experience made him less likely to care about Republican control of the Tennessee Legislature.
The biggest loser has to be House Democratic LeaderGary Odom, who had predicted victory for Ty Cobb saying that he believed "the climate will be more friendly to Democrats" by this fall. The other great defeat was handed to Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester, a militant Obama liberal whose days at the head of the party ofAndrew Jacksonand Isham Green Harrisare now very likely numbered.
We are a long way from November 2010, but next year has the potential to be very enjoyable and have a very red tint indeed.
In fairness to Chris Devaney, he replaced the most successful State Republican Chairman in Tennessee history-and those are awfully big shoes to fill. If Republican nomineePat Marsh should upset Ty Cobb in District 62 today, the shadow of his predecessor could finally be out from under Devaney. If Marsh loses however, Devaney may not be able to shake the notion that he is the less-than-stellar follower to the Blessed Robin.
Democrats and the mainstream media are calling the special election in Tennessee House District 62 a bellwether for 2010. If this race is a bethwether, it would be my kind of bellwether:
If District 62 is the Great Indicator of things to come, does this mean that we can expect Democrats to attempt to run to the right of their Republican opponents on gun rights, abortion, and the income tax (or preferably the continued lack thereof) in Tennessee, as we have seenTy Cobb try to do?
Tennessee voters can then presume that we will see Democratic candidates parading their new-found pro-life credentials en masse, and we will see the Democratic Chairman all over the press talking about how out of touch the Republicans are because they aren't pro-life like so many Tennessee voters. Next thing we all know, we'll see the Democrats telling us about their NRA memberships.
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