A LIST OF ELECTION SURPRISES
Every election spins out its share of surprises and the August 3rd election was no exception. Billy Long defeating Sheriff Cupp may have been the biggest shocker in the win-loss column but some of the biggest surprises relate less to candidates than to observable trends.
The acrimony in the Republican senatorial primary reveals the growing tendency toward escalating the nastiness of TV attack ads. We went from down-home chats with Bob Corker and his perfectly winsome mother to talk of lies and deceit. Despite the post-election Republican hug-off in Nashville and the half-hearted endorsements of Corker by his former opponents, chunks of bone and flesh will be floating down all around us for a while.
When winning depends so much on money and the money is heavily invested in savage attack ads, there will always be an irresistible temptation to upscale the virulence of the copy. The more emotion is generated by hot button issues, the less attention a wide range of vital issues will receive. We already have little real debate and we can expect it to get worse unless we establish a system that requires discussion and forums where all the candidates can more fully present their views and positions. Campaigning is slowly becoming surgical.
Brent Benedict defeating Terry Stulce for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd district house seat surprised me but an even greater surprise was attributing it to those computerized candidate phone calls. I cannot believe that is the explanation. If people dislike those intrusive forays into their homes as much as I abhor them, they would cost a candidate votes. To see if others felt like me, I asked at least a dozen people and the majority said they do not like them.
Is it just my imagination or were there more road signs this time that ever before with unending fusses over who was tearing down the signs of their opponents? Sign makers have got to make a living, too, but it sure would make for more pleasant driving if we limited them to the yards of supporters. The small signs cluttered the landscape and a few of the big signs actually blocked visibility at some intersections. It’s just one more thing that leaves people with a bad taste for politics.
Sometimes a loser of a race wins a larger prize by successfully injecting issues into public awareness and demonstrating the existence of a substantial base of support for them. In his race with incumbent county commissioner Curtis Adams, political newcomer John Bailes succeeded in doing that. His emphasis on education was particularly effective. Adams will ignore at his own peril the 48% who wanted change.
The power of the tiniest issue to derail a campaign was shown in the big hullabaloo over sessions court candidate Bob Davis wearing a judicial robe in a campaign picture. He had served as a judge in Calhoun, Tennessee. While it may have been a lapse in judgment to do it under the circumstances, Davis was exactly right in saying once a judge always a judge. The same can be said of colonels and generals. Suddenly a tiny issue towered over questions of judicial temperament and fitness for the job. Without the hullabaloo Davis would have had his hands full with Christie Mahn Sell. She ran an impressive campaign.
Any politician or close observer of politics knows judicial incumbency is the strongest of all. It was a big surprise that no candidate really put the spotlight on Judge David Bale’s appointment by an unpopular county commission. It was the only way they could have cancelled out the power of the “Keep Judge Bales” signs.One of the most gratifying things was upgrading of the quality of the county commission. How I long for a return to the idealism of the original commission elected in 1978. We can recapture that if the new members assert themselves
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