It now appears the once-proud party of Andrew Jackson won’t field a viable candidate for either governor or U.S. senator in 2014, leaving an assortment of nutjobs and lunatics to hop on the ballot to compete for those nominations once again.
No Democrat even is known to be thinking about challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander’s reelection, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said today he won’t run for governor after all. Some of the party’s executive committee members apparently are trying to persuade party chairman Roy Herron to run against Bill Haslam. For now, that’s just talk.
Only a few months ago, Fitzhugh was saying a Serious Person needed to step up for Democrats to hold any hope at all of making any kind of comeback toward relevancy in this state. Even if this Democrat couldn’t beat Haslam — and no one thought anyone could even come close, given the governor’s huge financial advantage — someone credible had to make the party’s case for running state government again, laying out a set of ideas and principles to rally the faithful.
At least that might help candidates in the down-ballot legislative races and begin to explain to swing voters what they might gain by giving Democrats another chance in this state. Fitzhugh would have been perfect for that job. An expert on state finances, he's articulate and could have held his own in debates with Haslam.
“We’re in a tough position, and we’re in a crossroad where we could just continue to be small and let people sort of run over us, let the other side run over us,” Fitzhugh said when he still was thinking about running. “Or we can start clawing our way back.”
It's looking like Democrats have made their choice.