and her husband, Memphis attorney Jim Gilliland
are among the closest friends that Al
Gore have. Both Gillilands went to Washington after the first election of the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1992 and took jobs with the new administration Ð Lucia as an official advisor to the Gores in the White House and as a national director of the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee, and Jim as chief legal counsel for the Department of Agriculture. Both were heavily involved in the Gore presidential campaign of 2000. Both continue to see the Gores on a friend-to-friend basis.
And Lucia Gilliland, who has more than a casual interest in what comes next and more insight than most into what that could be, thinks the former Vice President is virtually certain to seek the Democratic nomination for 2004. And when he does, actually even before he does in any formal sense, Gilliland is determined to take an active leadership role on the Tennesse end of things. ÒIt was here that he lost the election. Florida wouldnÕt have mattered if heÕd carried Tennessee,Ó said Gilliland during a weekend conversation. And she vowed, ÒWe wonÕt fall short again.Ó
One of the problems with GoreÕs campaign in Tennessee, Gilliland said, was that he seemed to be scheduled for quick in-and-out fundraising trips (ÒWham bam, thanks for the moneyÓ), but not much more. And she concurred with the criticisms of those who said GoreÕs media advertising failed to be as Tennessee-specific as it could have been.
Mroeover, said Gilliland, the best way for Al Gore to wage another presidential campaign is as himself Ð warts and all. ÒBut not the beard!Ó she said, seemingly aghast at GoreÕs newest experiment with personal transformation.
ÒIt was a mistakeÓ for Gore to submit to the various remodeling efforts that attracted so much negative attention during the last campaign period, Gilliland said. ÒHeÕd have come off better if heÕd run as the real Al Gore.Ó On balance, she believes, GoreÕs virtues Ð which include intelligence, knowledgeability, dedication, and good intentions -- outshine his flaws, which include a tendency to go flat at inconvenient times and an awkwardness at some of the people skills required by politics.
Gore will never be as smooth as the man whom he served as vice president for eight years, former President Bill Clinton
, says Lucia Gilliland. And yes, she agrees with various post-mortems of GoreÕs near-miss which suggest that he might have gone over the top if heÕd involved Clinton more actively in the campaign Ð specifically in Tennessee and Arkansas.
The thinking of GoreÕs advisers seemed to be that too much closeness to Clinton would offend Òthe swing voter,Ó Gilliland said, shaking her head and shrugging. In any case, as she noted, the former president wonÕt be an issue in the campaign period of 2003-4, for better or for worse.
be an issue is what she sees as the ÒterribleÓ record being made in economic and other policy areas by the current president, Republican George W.Bush
. And if voters get a chance to choose between the two of them again, especially between a Bush who is no longer an unknown quantity and a Gore who is content to be known as he really is, Òit wonÕt even be close.Ó
MOORE OUT OF SHERIFF'S RACE, LUTTRELL IN?
Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore
reluctantly decided this past weekend not to seek either the office of Shelby County mayor or that of sheriff.
Moore's friend, developer Jackie Welch
, had overseen polling into both possibilities. "The race could be won," Moore said about the sheriff's race, always the stronger possibility of the two ventures now eliminated.
Moore will now pursue a reelection race to the clerk's job, seeking the Republican nomination as before.
Meanwhile, Mark Luttrell
, director of the Shelby County Division of Corrections, is actively considering a race for sheriff, presumably as a Republican, the Flyer