Voters who went home after work Tuesday and collapsed after a few martinis didn’t miss much. Election returns offered few surprises.
The incumbent governor had no trouble at all. The two state constitutional amendments that advocate victims’ rights and less cushy treatment of Tennessee prisoners sailed to passage.
Once again, Nashville voters registered their disdain for the Metro Council by maintaining term limits for the local office holders. The state Legislature stayed pretty much the same. Tennessee kept its existing congressional delegation.
All in a day’s vote.
State election officials were still waiting on voting figures late on election night, but they were estimating that about 800,000 of the state’s 3 million registered votersor somewhere between 25 and 30 percentturned out to cast ballots. The figure was still unofficial by the Scene’s deadline Tuesday night, but about 67 percent of the state’s voters cast ballots for incumbent Republican Gov. Sundquist. That percentage is the highest any gubernatorial candidate has received in recent Tennessee history, and state election officials were still researching Tuesday night whether the percentage was the highest in the state’s history.
The margin, Sundquist said cheerfully during his victory speech at the Opryland Hotel, is “a remarkable victory for an unremarkable governor, isn’t it?” Sundquist was alluding to a profile about him in the Nashville Scene a few weeks ago, titled “Mr. Unremarkable.”
Hooker, who initiated what Sundquist characterized as a “gracious” congratulatory telephone conversation election night, appeared to be in good humor despite his loss.
The Democratic nominee, who did not accept any financial contributions to his campaign, said he knew he would lose to the governor. The only real question in the days leading up to Nov. 3 was the margin. Hooker had hoped for 40 percent of the vote. But he said the approximately 31 percent of the vote that he received statewideand the 38 percent he got in Davidson Countywere proof that his messages of campaign finance and other sweeping political reform resonated with Tennesseans. The low voter turnout across the state, he said, was further evidence that Tennesseans are disenchanted with the current political system.
“It all depends on how you look at thingswinning and losing,” Hooker said philosophically as he sat casually among friends and supporters on a couch of the presidential suite at the Crowne Plaza Nashville. “Sundquist is re-elected today, but no politician can glory in the low voter turnout we saw. The people know the system is broken, and they don’t want to participate.”
Surrounded by friend Howard Bingham (a longtime buddy and an associate of another Hooker pal, Muhammad Ali), ex-wife Tish, campaign supporters, reporters, and other friendly visitors, Hooker reveled in the election-night events, even though it was Sundquist who got to deliver the victory speech.
“This night is a great night for me, because I know I’ve done the best I could,” he said. “You know, if you really know who you are and what you are, life’s pretty nice.”
Hooker, who isn’t ruling out another political run, says an upcoming decision from a special state Supreme Court panel about the constitutionality of “retention” elections for Tennessee appellate court judges will help keep him motivated about political reform.
“The fight goes on tomorrow in the courts,” Hooker said.
Going down in flames
About half the Metro Council can kiss their part-time legislative salary goodbye. Nashvillians voted to keep in place the two-term limit for Metro Council members first approved by referendum in 1994.
The election-day vote to keep the limits marks the second effort by Metro Council members and others to repeal the term-limits question that passed four years ago. The question asking voters to repeal the limits got about 39 percent of the vote.
Despite lofty predictions about a serious campaign being launched against term limits, one never surfaced. The mayor had a few meetings with a few people, and officials at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce piped up a few times about the fact that term limits for Council are unnecessary. But, ultimately, no one put up any money to get them repealed. Meanwhile, a national organization advocating the limits managed to produce two glossy mailings urging Davidson County voters to keep them.
The bottom line: Voters aren’t stupid, and you get what you pay for.
Hail Marys for Lamar
Tennessee’s most shameless Republican presidential hopeful got some bad news last night as he helped Gov. Sundquist celebrate a re-election victory in Nashville.
Alexander has adopted the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire as his second homes as he campaigns for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000. He had gotten a boost from Terry Branstad, the outgoing Republican governor of Iowa.
Unfortunately for Alexander, a Demo-cratic governor got elected in Branstad’s wake Tuesday night, which is bound to put a damper on the caucus-day organizing he’s going to have to pull off to get elected president.l
To reach Liz, call her at 244-7989, ext. 406, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Buchanan is NASHVILLE's executive producer, not THE producer. He's not about to speak out,…
@Jimbo: What you're saying is that white people should leave black predators alone.
Donna; pardon me if I seem ungracious, but the bitch quotient in my life is…
Country is a hijacked genre, Jim, populated by phonies. Put on a pair of cowboy…
''Anything that eliminates predators of any stripe or spot is good."' probably , you will…