The third-wheel candidate in Metro’s hottest judicial electionthe race for juvenile court judgehas announced that he’s backing out to support incumbent Judge Andy Shookhoff’s more formidable opponent, attorney Betty Adams.
Attorney Scott Rosenberg announced on WTVF-Channel 5’s Morningline cable show Tuesday that he plans to support Adams, a vice president with Children’s Comprehensive Services, a private firm that manages juvenile detention facilities, and provides education and treatment for at-risk youths.
Appearing with Adams on the morning talk show, Rosenberg donned a pro-Adams T-shirt and said he was pulling out of the race and endorsing Adams because they have similar ideas about the direction of juvenile court. In her campaign so far, Adams has effectively exploited the perception that juvenile court, under Shookhoff’s leadership, has been soft on young criminals.
“I found myself over and over saying I agree with Ms. Adams,” Rosenberg says. “We were basically appealing to the same people with the same message.”
Rosenberg’s name will still appear on the May 5 county primary ballot, but he says he has instructed his supporters to vote for Adams. In most three-way races, the weakest candidate usually takes only a small percentage of the vote, weakening the incumbent’s opposition. But that may not be the case now that Rosenberg has endorsed Adams. Anti-Shookhoff voters might have split their votes between the two opponents, but Adams will now be in line for the lion’s share of the anti-incumbent support.
In contrast to some other countywide judicial races, the juvenile court judge contest has so far focused on issues rather than irrelevant, personal attacks. Nevertheless, even this race has had its unseemly aspects.
It’s been no secret for some time that there is a sharp, mutual antipathy between Shookhoff and Juvenile Court Clerk Kenny Norman, who are supposed to work closely together. Norman has been working on Adams’ behalf since last year, offering her political advice and introducing her around at political gatherings.
Not only is the race shaping up to be a classic struggle of an incumbent versus a tough-on-crime opponent, but it has also become an official manifestation of a traditional culture clashwith Shookhoff representing the liberal intelligentsia and Norman as a champion of the more highly politicized working class.
The annual State of Metro breakfast is one major event that’s a crucial see-and-be-seen opportunity for local political junkies and wannabes.
Sponsored every year by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the breakfast provides the sitting mayor with a chance to talk about what’s going on in Metro. Mayor Phil Bredesen gave his seventh State of Metro address last Wednesday morning to an audience of about 1,000 at the Nashville Convention Center.
Milling around the room before and after the speech were dozens of local candidates running in the county’s May 5 Democratic primary, as well as others whose sights are set on next year’s Metro Council and mayoral races. They shook hands, they canvassed the breakfast tables, distributing campaign literature, dropping names, and chatting with potential supporters.
But conspicuously absent was one man who hopes to be giving his own State of Metro address in a couple of years, former state legislator and current mayoral candidate Bill Purcell.
Purcell has a lot going for him, except perhaps for one noteworthy weakness: He hasn’t shown much interest in Metro. Purcell has brilliantly focused his campaign on quality-of-life issues, such as education and crime, but most of his experience has been in the state Legislature, and he may be viewed as an outsider who’s more accustomed to the workings of Capitol Hill rather than the Metro bureaucracy. As a result, he may have a hard time convincing the local political establishment, and voters, that he knows how to run the city.
Purcell’s spokesman, Patrick Willard, who did attend the State of Metro, says Purcell was preparing for a special class he’s teaching for Vanderbilt alumni and for a trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was to make a presentation to the state Legislature. As it turned out, Willard says, Vice President Al Gore was in Des Moines at the same time, and Purcell, who served as state director of the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996, wound up introducing the vice president.
Purcell is a strong candidate, and he may well be the only person willing to run against Bredesen if the mayor tries for a third term. But if he’s going to be the neighborhood candidate, the education candidate, the community candidate, he’s going to have to make fewer vice-presidential introductions and start eating more runny eggs in Nashville.
Hooker the hero
Will Alexander, former Gov. Lamar Alexander’s youngest child, a student at Montgomery Bell Academy, recently wrote a paper about former Tennessee Democratic nominee for governor and one-time ultra rich entrepreneur, John Jay Hooker Jr.
As part of his research for the paper, the younger Alexander interviewed Hooker, but their meetings were cut short when Hooker, now living in genteel poverty and battling for campaign-finance reform, had emergency surgery to remove fluid from around his heart.
Despite that, Will Alexander wrote a touchingly eloquent essay about Hooker’s life. In fact, it’s a better read than any of the several Hooker profiles that have appeared in recent years.
General Sessions Judge Bill Higgins is so frustrated with the closing of the Richland Park Library as an early-voting site that he has taken matters into his own hands. Higgins, who is running uncontested in the May 5 primary, is planning to rent a handicap-accessible bus starting next Wednesdaythe beginning of early votingto transport people to the Election Commission offices at the Howard School building. At least for the next couple of Wednesdays, the bus will leave at 12:30 p.m. from the east end of Pearl-Cohn Comprehensive High School.
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