District Attorney Torry Johnson was at the YMCA working out earlier this week when a curious voter asked him the question everybody wants answered: is he or isn’t he running for mayor? Johnson’s answer hasn’t wavered, whether he’s talking to constituents or impatient reporters: he’s still trying to decide.
He says the office of mayor is “interesting” and “intriguing”—the kind of position he’d be willing to make sacrifices for. At the same time, he’d been planning to run for district attorney last spring when Mayor Bill Purcell announced he wouldn’t try for a third term, leaving the field open for three candidates who leapt into the void. “The announced candidates said they were in practically from the minute Mayor Purcell’s announcement reverberated through the city,” Johnson says. “I’d been focused on the DA’s race up to that point. Only then did people start talking to me about being mayor. So I’m coming at this a little bit differently.”
According to a source with knowledge of the DA’s inner circle, Johnson is almost certain to run. The same source says Johnson’s closest confidants put the likelihood at 90 percent.
GOP courts Rangel
Charles Rangel, the crusty old congressman from Harlem, was in town earlier this week for a special fund-raising event in the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza’s Sarratt Room. Donations to attend ranged from $1,000 per individual to $5,000 for a political action committee, and hosts included executives with ties to the GOP: Hospital Corp. of America CEO Jack Bovender and HCA senior vice president Vic Campbell. HCA is, of course, the hospital founded by Republican Sen. Bill Frist’s father.
It’s no secret why Republican health care professionals would want to help Rangel. If the midterm elections produce a Democratic House majority for the first time since 1995, Rangel would probably become chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, controlling billions of dollars of taxpayer money.
It’s not a bad idea. Actually, “brazen” is what one Democratic observer calls it.
The Dreaded wedding
No prenup, folks. That’s the word from one of Nashville’s most eligible bachelors, who tied the knot after 43 years of recklessly abusing his body with late-night abandon and flirting with fame as a comedian, radio disc jockey, lawyer and city council member. Fittingly, Adam Dread, who married the former Katherine Anderson Gatlin in Nantucket last week, met his bride, who goes by Kasey, at Cabana, the ultra-slick restaurant-nightclub where Dread’s been known to socialize. (His office, in fact, is right around the corner.)
Dread’s engagement was exactly 17 hours long, during which he had to buy rings and flowers and alert the Nantucket clerk. He and Kasey were married on the beach at sunset, wearing matching pink polo shirts, shorts and flip-flops. In the bridal party were nine adults, three children and three dogs. (NFocus, you can go ahead and cut and paste this for next month’s issue.)
“We’d been talking about it for a little while,” Dread says. “We figured, why not? If we had all our family together, the wedding would have been too big.”
He and his bride have fourth-row tickets to the Def Leppard concert Sunday, and he’s planning a bachelor party in Iceland later this year. “Reykjavik makes Amsterdam look like Chuck E. Cheese,” he gushes.
Tim Lee: all things to all
James Weaver is one of those high-profile, influential Nashvillians whose word seems to matter to a great many people. Weaver, an attorney at Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis, has represented developers of major projects like the Icon, Encore and Signature buildings. He was the lead counsel when the Tennessee Education Lottery Foundation was formed. As vice chairman for governmental affairs of the chamber, he helped kill a measure to increase the state’s minimum wage this session.
Last month, Weaver chose to extend his influence on behalf of an unlikely recipient, 36-year-old paramedic Tim Lee, who is running for Metro Council to fill the seat of Chris Whitson, who resigned last fall. Lee and Weaver aren’t exactly longtime neighbors. Lee moved into District 23 only a year ago, though his wife, Kate, spent most of her childhood there.
Weaver chose to endorse Lee in a widely circulated email last month, attracting the curiosity of constituents accustomed to developers sniffing around area real estate, hoping to build cluster homes and other marvels of high-density construction that would bring traffic and strangers into their idyllic neighborhoods.
“I’m not anti-development,” Lee says. “Neither am I a spokesperson for development.” He promises that, if elected, he’ll be the fairest member of the council. That could be his downfall.
Teachers can’t spell
Dorcel Benson, chair of the Metro Nashville Education Association’s political action committee, has nice things to say about Tim Lee in the association’s official endorsement of him last month. “You displayed a knowledge of what it is going to take to research then verbalize issues that our school system currently faces,” Benson wrote.
Unfortunately, the teachers didn’t do a very good job of researching where Lee lives. MNEA mailed the letter and a $250 check to Lee’s opponent, Emily Evans, whose husband, Charlie, accidentally opened the envelope. When Lee returned from vacation, Evans contacted Lee to return the check, asking, “Does this mean we get to split it?”