For the first time, Red State Update has decided to officially endorse a candidate for political office. We are wholeheartedly backing Republican Basil Marceaux for governor of the Great State of Tennessee. We ask our fellow Tennesseans to do the same. Together we can make sure it's "Basil Time In Tenessee!" for the next four years, or however long governors serve.
On MSNBC this morning, Zach Wamp and Ron Ramsey make the news for saying stupid things. Of course. But in another sign of his mushrooming momentum, Basil Marceaux dominates this segment on our governor's race.
"There it is, Marceaux for governor," Chuck Todd chortles. That's right, go ahead and laugh, Chuck. Our man Marceaux will have the last laugh.
Oh sure, bloggers poked fun at Marceaux at first. Wonkette kicked it off. He wants to ban traffic stops, which he equates with slavery, and he promises: “VOTE FOR ME AND IF I WIN I WILL IMMUNE YOU FROM ALL STATE CRIMES FOR THE REST OF YOU LIFE!”
"What can be made fun of first? We just want to live in this man’s brain forever," Wonkette raved, labeling Marceaux "the oracle of Tennessee."
But then something changed in the collective thinking: "Eventually, as with Pabst Blue Ribbon, Basil Marceaux became so ironically popular, people forgot they liked him ironically. They started taking him seriously," New York magazine's Daily Intel observed. An example:
When I first saw the video early this morning, I thought Marceaux had just kicked back a few too many drinks to calm his nerves before a big television appearance but, after viewing Marceaux’s website (which, despite what he says in the video, totally isn’t ImBasilMarceaux.com or even BasilMarceaux.com) and reading his writings, it became clear that what you see is what you get and that this is the real Basil Marceaux…or possibly the most brilliant political performance art prank since Andy Kaufman threw on some cheek puddy, faked a deeper gruff voice, and made everyone believe that there was a real man named “Richard Nixon."
Now headlines like these are popping up: "Meet Gubernatorial Candidate Basil Marceaux: Proof America’s Democracy Is Still Healthy," "Meet Basil Marceaux, a Political Candidate for Our Time" and "Meet Basil Marceaux Dot Com, Tennessee's Next Governor." Not since Barack Obama has a candidate used the Internet so masterfully. Can Marceaux pull a miracle and snatch away victory on Aug. 5? That's the question everyone is asking now. Here's the video that started it all:
"We want people out there scraping and clawing and looking for work and not just sitting back waiting."
Reaction from Tennessee Citizen Action's Mary Mancini:
“If Mr. Wamp sincerely believes that the people of Tennessee are ‘sitting back waiting’ instead of looking for work then he clearly doesn't know the people of Tennessee…. Unemployment is 10 percent statewide and close to 20 percent in some counties. That's not because Tennesseans do not want to work. It's because there are no jobs available."
Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Jerry Lee:
"We’ve got people out there scraping and clawing and looking for jobs already and there are six applicants for every job. If it wasn’t for these extensions on unemployment, we’d have people not just losing their homes, their families and cars, their families would be going without food and they wouldn’t have gas to go to a job if they found one. The culture was created on Wall Street. Working people didn’t create this situation.
"It's okay with these conservatives to extend the tax breaks for the wealthy and for weeks and weeks it was not okay to extend unemployment. I don’t know where the double standard comes from. The (jobless benefits) extension is federal dollars; it's not putting the burden on NFIB folks."
“As I have travelled to all 95 counties, people tell me over and over again they want to work. They need jobs, not lectures and attacks from Congressman Wamp. My goal is simple we have to put Tennesseans back to work, not blame them for being unemployed.”
Most indicators entering the 8/5 primary suggests Haslam is the frontrunner, including polling, fundraising, and the fact that he's the subject of most attacks launched from Rep. Zach Wamp (R-03) and LG Ron Ramsey (R), though just he launched a counterattack against Wamp last week. Haslam followed up with a radio ad this week criticizing Wamp and said he found the attacks against him to be sad given that he's helped Wamp and Ramsey in their previous campaigns.
"I've known them both and have financially supported them in the past," said Haslam, adding, "When you're running against them, everything changes. ... My hope is that we can get past that."
Haslam donated $1K to Wamp's first re-election bid in '96.
As for Pilot Corp.'s price gouging after Hurricane Ike, Haslam wouldn't accept any blame. He had left the company by then to become Knoxville's mayor: "Ultimately, the leadership of the company is responsible," said Haslam. We guess he's talking about his brother.
At a campaign event in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey (R) said that freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, may not apply to Islam because it could be considered "a cult."
Recall that our lieutenant governor also made news around the country when he said he didn't know whether President Obama is legit. And there's still nine more days until the election—plenty of time for these guys to embarrass Tennessee again.
Update: That snowball's really growing now. The New York Times weighs in. USA Today's cheery headline: "Politician calls Islam 'cult:' Church to burn Quran." And Wonkette points out an oddly Muslim-looking character, presumably a Ramsey aide, in the video with the lieutenant governor. Is this guy with the bow tie a secret Muslim?
Update III: "Islam-is-a-cult row" goes international.
“They went to the four corners offense and tried to run the clock out and way too soon,” Ramsey said. “He’s literally trying to ride this out. You can’t dodge the voters and expect to win. They’re in free fall. They know they’re in free fall. They’re not in panic mode yet, but I think they’re getting close to it.”
Wamp is sticking to his Mystery Turnout Theory. Those pollsters with their wacky random digit dialing can't possibly find all the masses of bumpkin Wamp voters out there in the backcountry, right?
“Polling doesn’t show where people are voting heavy or voting light,” Wamp said. “Just watch what happens. Where people are voting in bigger numbers is where I am going to do better. We’re watching that constantly in early voting. I do well in rural counties. I wanted to do a certain percentage of the total vote, and they’re 8 points higher. What does that mean? It means a lot of traditional Democrats in rural counties in places like the 8th District are voting Republican for the first time ever. I’m doing very well there.”
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