Southern Rock Saturday
CLASSIC Marshall Tucker Band...
There has been immense interest in this election, even for such normally insignificant (at least to the average voter) positions as the State Executive Committees of both political parties, and candidates-including this one-have zealously campaigned for every vote they could get. Tonight we will know what the shape of our political parties in Tennessee will look like for perhaps years to come. It isn't just on the Republican side that commotion abounds in races for the party executive, but Democrats face contested races for their Executive Committee in several districts-this writer has encountered one of his Democratic counterparts on the campaign trail.
Some running for office on the ballot today are doing so because they want the power. Some people are standing because they believe they can make a difference by doing so. There are a few who see their attempts at election as some kind of promotion of sorts. Still yet, a few of us have placed our names into consideration for no other reason but that it was the right thing to do.
Despite any issues or lack thereof over McWherter's intellect, because his father is just as behind him as Big Jim Haslam is behind Bill he can't be discounted. Ned McWherter was elected in 1986 over a well-funded, well-known, and relatively popular Republican opponent in former Governor Winfield Dunn. Much like Dunn, Haslam is wealthy, will have big name donors, and has name recognition and relative popularity, but a lot of folks who are suspicious of him-including a few with some influence (remember Jimmy Quillen?). Bill Haslam would be wise, should he win the Republican nod tomorrow, to study the parallels between the 1986 campaign and his own to avoid an unfortunate repeat of history.
In the wake of the Republican victory in Tennessee House District 62 last October, there was a warning published in this space that the Tennessee House Republican Caucus needed to be on their guard against an attitude of triumphalism in the ranks that could undermine the party's excellent chance of victory in the General Election in November. Outgoing House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower warned his members that the presumption of victory in November and attempts to focus on who the next Speaker of the House should be could cost the GOP the majority because just as with Democrats in 2008, Republican presumptions of victory and internal divisions could be their undoing.
For those of us accustomed to early voting, that is stern and fixed language that would seem to prohibit the practice at least where the November General Election is concerned. There is not an out, such as sometimes occurs in other constitutions, with the phrase "unless the Legislature shall by law appoint a different day." The State Constitution does not allow for a different day or for the General Assembly to prescribe other voting arrangements without a constitutional amendment.
It could be argued that early voting in primaries and local election could be allowed since there is no discussion in the Tennessee Constitution of primary elections or local elections, which take place on the first Thursday in August and in which we have either already voted or will vote this coming Thursday. That is a fair legal argument, but if we are to consider original intent where the Tennessee Constitution is concerned, it should be remembered that the custom of having an election on the first Thursday in August goes back to the time of settlement of this territory, and that our current State Constitution, ratified in 1870, is nothing more than a slightly modified version of Tennessee's original Constitution of 1796. That document fixed the date of elections for the General Assembly on the first Thursday in August and declared that they would terminate at the end of the following day, and there was again no "notwithstanding" language allowing legislative flexibility.