Political Notes 

Straightening out the Boners

Straightening out the Boners

Carol Boner, wife of state Rep. and former Mayor Bill Boner, went to WTVF-Channel 5 a few weeks ago alleging that her husband had cheated on her with a woman who works on Boner’s countywide campaign. But she now says she doesn’t think her husband acted inappropriately.

Carol Boner told the television station several weeks ago that she suspected her husband was having an affair and that she went to the campaign worker’s apartment one morning to confront him. When she arrived at the apartment, Bill Boner answered the door. She then took her story to Channel 5.

The story was yet another explosive development in Boner’s political life. Channel 5 quoted his ex-wife Traci Peel as saying her former husband was addicted to sex. Further, the indication was that divorce was in the works yet again for the former mayor, who says he is a born-again Christian and who is planning a run next year for the countywide office of register of deeds.

But Carol Boner said yesterday that she now regrets making a public issue out of the episode. “Bill and I have spent much time discussing the circumstances surrounding the incident,” she said in her portion of a joint statement faxed to the Scene.

“After learning more about the situation and Bill’s need for an interim campaign office, I do not think there was inappropriate behavior and understand why he needed to spend time [at the campaign worker’s home]. This incident has caused a great deal of pain and we both want to move forward. Our marriage has had additional stresses because of the nature of public office and the political campaigns.”

The statement goes on to say that a “recent implication” that the couple is divorcing is wrong. “I believe the nature of Christians is forgiveness,” Carol Boner says.

In his portion of the statement, Bill Boner says the two have tried to make the incident “a growth experience with the support of our pastor and church staff. We are receiving counseling to help in building a stronger relationship in our marriage.”

According to the statement, there should be no further “appearance of impropriety” because Bill Boner now has an office from which he conducts his campaign business.

When Bill met Phil

Former state Rep. Bill Purcell, the only announced candidate for the 1999 mayor’s race, has finally had a private meeting with Mayor Phil Bredesen to discuss Purcell’s candidacy.

The former House majority leader’s unexpected announcement several weeks ago was curious, not only because it came so early but also because it came before Purcell had discussed his plans with Bredesen, who has not made a firm decision about whether to run for a third term. Purcell’s failure to meet with Bredesen amounted to something of a political faux pas.

At the same time, it only added to the rumors that there is no love lost between Purcell and the mayor. Despite what either of them or their confidants says for the record, the coolness is real, although Bredesen is more critical of Purcell than Purcell is of the mayor. Their differences apparently date back to the time, a couple of years back, when Purcell didn’t sponsor legislation allocating state money for construction of the Oilers football stadium.

Nevertheless, at least for about a half-hour last Thursday, the two put their differences aside for a meeting in the mayor’s office. The meeting was brokered by Bredesen friend and adviser Byron Trauger, who is also a buddy of Purcell’s. Trauger was also present for the meeting.

Insiders describe the meeting as more than cordial and say that it focused on issues affecting Metro. Still, if Purcell wanted Bredesen to give him a definitive declaration that he wouldn’t run again, he left disappointed. Bredesen made no such comment.

There has been some speculation, in fact, that Bredesen is considering running for a third four-year term as mayor, even though his interest in the day-to-day management of Metro government has been running hot and cold. If Bredesen really is considering a third term—and his friends say he is—it could heighten any antagonism that already exists between him and Purcell.

Several constituencies are urging a Bredesen encore. Public education activists and supporters want him to run again, in hopes of securing more capital for Metro schools. Neither education supporters nor Bredesen got all the money they wanted from Metro Council this past summer. The education forces figure Bredesen, who’s been using his influence to bring about public education reforms, is their best shot if they hope to try again in some future year.

Should Bredesen heed the bell for another round, members of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce will be behind him too, as will the public library boosters, who are grateful to him for securing $70 million from Council to build a new main library downtown.

Purcell isn’t without his own supporters, but he’d better hope Bredesen decides against taking the action all his friends are encouraging him to take. If Bredesen does enter the race, Purcell will have to answer the question he’s been avoiding until now: What will you do if Bredesen runs again?

Take a hike

Only two members of the Tennessee congressional delegation voted last week in favor of a measure giving members of the U.S. House a $3,000 “cost-of-living adjustment”—or pay raise.

And the two congressmen—John Tanner of Union City and Bob Clement of Nashville, both Democrats—are the only two members of the U.S. House who are being mentioned as future Tennessee gubernatorial candidates. Both have said they won’t run for the Democratic nomination in next year’s governor’s race, but they are both likely candidates for the race in 2002.

The other seven members of the Tennessee delegation voted against the measure. Nevertheless, all of them would receive the raise, bringing their individual salaries to $136,672 a year.

Blazing Bart

When former Olympic runner Jim Ryun was elected to Congress last year, Congressman Bart Gordon may have thought he’d lose his status as the fastest member of Congress. Ryun was, after all, the first high school runner, way back in 1965, to break the four-minute mile.

But Gordon retained his title recently in an annual three-mile Washington, D.C., race benefiting Special Olympics. Gordon, 48, won the race, beating a field of 700 runners, including Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Bill Frist


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