Moore Money 

Firefighters of the world, unite!

Firefighters of the world, unite!

Hey kids! If you want to go into politics when you grow up (and who doesn't?), a lot of know-it-all adults are probably telling you that law school is a great place to get started. Well, sure, a lot of politicians are lawyers, and a legal education is a pretty good foundation for a political career, but take it from Political Notes: Law school sucks.

Here's a better idea: become a firefighter. Even better yet: become the head of a state firefighters' union. Then take on a popular incumbent, with over $42,000 in your campaign kitty, brought to you by your firefighting brethren across the nation.

Anyway, that seems to be how Gary Moore has done it in his Democratic primary race against popular incumbent state Rep. Tim Garrett of Goodlettsville. A political unknown when he began, Moore has parlayed his position as president of the Tennessee Firefighters Association into enough money to give Garrett his toughest race in a very long time. (And Garrett, by the way, probably deserves it, if only for his notorious record of legislative absences.)

Moore's pre-primary campaign financial disclosure statement reads like a Who's Who in the World of Firefighting. There's the Franklin Firefighters Association with a $1,000 donation, Murfreesboro's crew with another $500, the fellas in Memphis with a cool $1,000, and so on, with other contributions from firefighters in Kingsport, Johnson City, Morristown, Lebanon, Clarksville and Dickson.

It doesn't stop there. Miami firefighters gave Moore $500. A group from Minnesota chipped in $250 to go along with $500 from a group in Boston on top of $150 from some folks in Baltimore, all of which goes rather nicely with the $1,000 check from the International Association of Firefighters in Washington, D.C. There's more, but you get the picture. These guys stick together.

Not that Moore's opponent is hurting for cash. The well-connected Garrett raked in almost $65,000 from individuals and PACs of all shapes and sizes, including contributions totaling $8,000 from 11 people with the last name of "Garrett," all but one of whom lives in his hometown. What an astonishing coincidence.

Combined, Moore and Garrett will spend over $100,000, a big chunk of money to pay for the privilege of representing northwest Nashville and Bellevue in the General Assembly. Hope it's worth it to somebody.

Vote Derybery

Another union of service employees, the local Fraternal Order of Police, provided the lion's share of Tony Derryberry's slim budget for his Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Janis Baird Sontany. Of Derryberry's total $2,450 in contributions, $1,500 came from the FOP. Since Nashville's Finest seem to like Derryberry so much, perhaps they could hook him up with somebody who knows how to spell. According to many of his enormous yard signs, Derryberry is running to represent the 53rd "Distict." Good luck with that one, buddy.

Early birds

Has the time come to rethink the way we do early voting? The Davidson County Election Commission offered local voters 14 days to vote early for Thursday's election, and all of 2,886 people (that's just over 1 percent of the total registered active voters in the county) took advantage of the opportunity. Using the times provided on the commission's early voting schedule, that comes out to just 22 voters an hour—an utterly pathetic rate.

There's no need to cut out early voting altogether (it will certainly be a welcome luxury during the upcoming presidential election), but somebody needs to figure out a way to allow for downward adjustments in low-ebb election cycles. Would it kill anyone, for instance, to have just seven days of early voting?

Flitting around

Every once in a blue moon (and, as it happens, we had a blue moon just last week), some Republican attempts to run a half-decent countywide political campaign, only to be decimated at the polls by Nashville's historically Democratic electorate. The last such victim was Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle in 1996. Lyle, a Sundquist appointee, had the backing of many Democratic lawyers in the city, so she ran for re-election with some amount of confidence. Nevertheless, Democrat Carol McCoy summarily crushed her. (Lyle, whose momma didn't raise no dummies, returned to the bench later on—as a Democrat.)

This election year brings us one Neil Flit, candidate for General Sessions judge, who is not only an attorney in real life, he also plays one in television commercials. Flit's campaign against Democrat Dan Eisenstein is actually fairly competent as local Republican campaigns go. There seems to be some semblance of an organization and a decent get-out-the-vote effort among what few hard-core partisan Republicans there are in the Davidson County. Not that it will make any difference. The highly regarded Eisenstein will win in a walk.

For anyone who cares

Last week, Political Notes attributed the text of a Music Row Democrat press release to local public relations representative Jim Havey. The release was actually a statement by the Music Row Democrats issued through Mr. Havey's office. We're happy to make the clarification.

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