Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who's to Blame for State Democratic Debacle?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 9:13 AM

Democrats were just beginning to celebrate their great victory last night when they got the bad news. Nothing like losing the legislature to kill an Obama buzz. On a night of historic national political realignment, with red states turning blue all over the map, the GOP went on a rampage in Tennessee. What went wrong for the Democrats here? They are quick to blame the national party, something they’ve been doing for decades as they have slowly lost their grip on state power. From the City Paper:
Outgoing State Rep. Phillip Pinion said a lack of support from national Democrats hurt the party's efforts in Tennessee. Pinion appeared to allude to a lack of presence in the state by Obama. “The top of the ticket lost it for Tennessee,” Pinion said. “We lost strong Democratic districts basically due to a lack of support from the national Democratic Party. The state party put up a good fight, but without national help they were hamstrung.”
But that’s too easy. Tennessee Democrats deserve blame too. If they were so worried about the top of the ticket, they should have recruited and funded a credible challenger to Lamar Alexander. That would have energized the troops and might have enticed Obama to spend money in this state. He did that in Georgia to help Democrats against Saxby Chambliss. Why not here? Gov. Phil Bredesen also hurt his party. He refused to dip into his pot of leftover campaign cash to help candidates. And although he did find a little time to campaign personally, he did a poor job of explaining why he thinks Democrats rather than Republicans should run the legislature. Maybe he's not sure himself. Republicans, in contrast, stayed constantly on the attack. Bill Hobbs gets the last laugh. As a result of this election, one or two Democratic congressmen will probably lose their jobs after redistricting. And the state’s constitutional officers should look for new employment. What else will change? In most ways, not too much. The state’s budget meltdown will dominate the next couple of sessions. No one was going to try to raise taxes anyway. Tennessee Democrats have always been just as pro-business and anti-environment as Republicans, so you won’t see much difference there. But Republicans will ammo up for the culture wars. They’ll pass laws to torment gays and force the teaching of creationism. We’ll be able to carry guns in bars, state parks and wherever else we please. One of the GOP’s silliest members, Rep. Stacey Campfield, can’t wait to get started.
“50! We made it! We are there! We were all so happy we were just giggling, talking about all the bills we are going to finally pass. 50! I didn’t know to laugh or cry I was so happy. I probably did both. 50!"

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