Bob Clement has quickly adapted to his new role in the mayor's race. No longer the all-but-invincible mayor-to-be, he's now the spunky underdog battling to save Nashville from that carpetbagger Karl Dean.
Clement's already laid out his line of attack:
(a) Issue No. 1: Money, specifically Dean's wife's money. "Our city is not for sale to the highest bidder," Clement said in his speech
last night. "I believe the people of Nashville want you to earn your way to victory...not buy it. I say again.... Nashville's future is not for sale to the highest bidder." This criticism probably won't have much impact given the fact that Nashville didn't seem to mind Phil Bredesen buying elections. But it'll get under Dean's skin, and that's probably fun for Clement, so why not?
(b) Issue No. 2: Taxes, specifically the Metro Charter amendment last fall requiring voter approval of property tax increases. That amendment won with 77 percent of the vote. But as Metro law director, Dean questioned the constitutionality of that amendment
. "Here's the real question for Karl Dean: How did you vote on the referendum?" Clement flack John Ray Clemmons asked in a presser.
"Did you vote with 77 percent of the people of Nashville or did you take your own legal advice seriously and vote against the referendum?" That's a good question. If Clement can make this campaign all about taxes and paint Dean as a high-tax liberal, Dean can still probably carry Green Hills.
(c) Issue No. 3: Illegal immigrants and crime. Now, we're really talking. Clement signaled last night that he's not above fear-mongering on the illegal immigration issue if that'll snag a few more votes. And he didn't even show his ace in the hole--Dean's time as public defender. The TV ads are almost certainly on the way. Something tells me we're going to learn a lot about some of Dean's more unsavory clients.
So in six weeks time, if Clement succeeds, Dean's going to go from honest, intelligent leader for the new century to tax-happy, criminal-coddling elitist. Politics is great, isn't it?