Monday, September 10, 2001

A ROAD SHOW WORTH SEEING

A ROAD SHOW WORTH SEEING

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2001 at 4:00 AM



It is reasonably well known that U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of MemphisÕs 9th congressional district has become a big-time player in the cathode-tube universe of Inside-the-Beltway Washington. What is not so widely known is some of the dramas the 31-year-old third-term congressman has played in.

A road-show version of one of them, called ÒCampaign-Finance Reform,Ó came to the University of MemphisÕ Faulkner Lounge Friday, and a good time was hand by all, despite the absence, due to a prostate operation, of the dramaÕs main player, Senator John McCain (who, said Ford at one point with respectful irreverence, Òis the one that sucks up all the air timeÓ).

The other familiar cable-news faces were there, however Ð Sen. Russ Feingold, the Senate co-sponsor, with McCain of the major extant reform bill, McCain-Feingold; Reps. Chris Shays (R-Ct.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.), sponsors of the companion House bill Ð along with two not-so-familiar ones, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a legendary veteran of the Civil Rights movement; Rep. Marion Berry(D-Ark.); and Scott Harshbarger, head of Common Cause.

All had their moments in the presentation of the common cause, which was, of course, the bill to ban impose strict limits on the cornucopic, corporate-tainted Òsoft moneyÓ which the sponsors all feel restricts the civil rights of ordinary Americans and favors special interests.

Among other things, the bill would:

* Ban soft money contributions to the national political parties from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals.

* Provide a clear distinction between expenditures on behalf of candidates Ð which would be subject of the financial limits of federal election law -- and those used to advocate issues;

* Curtail undisclosed soft-money expenditures for issue ads in the closing days of campaigns;

* Require timelier disclosures and establish stiffer penalties for violations.

As Ford and the other panelists noted, McCain-Feingold is now bottled up in the House, where members will have to approve a discharge petition in order for the bill to be considered on the floor.

At a brief press conference before the event, Ford was cited by his fellow panelists as a major force in the effort to pass McCain-Feingold. He has been the subject of several articles noting his missionary work for the bill with fellow African Americans in Congress.

ÒWhen we started a few weeks ago, there were only five African-American members willing to say they were for the bill. By the time we get to a vote, that number should be close to 30,Ó said Ford, who attributed an early reluctance by black members to a belief that soft-money contributions were a boon to black fund-raising, since individual hard-money donations at the maximum level were harder to come by.

ÒI think I finally convinced many of them that you could judge who the bill would help and who it would hurt by the people who were lined up on both sides of it,Ó Ford said.

A bit of time-space-warp commentary was provided at the forum by Rep. Shays, who told the audience that Rep. Meehan had "gotten up at 6 a.m. this morning so he could be at Gracie Mansion." It turned up that Graceland Mansion, the home of the late Elvis Presley, and not Gracie Mansion, home of New York's mayor, was what he meant. Meehan said that he had indeed boarded a 6 a.m. flight to Memphis so that he could check out Elvis' house. -- J.B.

SUNDQUIST A BURDEN FOR THE GOP, HILLEARY SUGGESTS

But the odds still favor a Republican gubernatorial candidate, he says.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2001 at 4:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary (R-4th), the consensus favorite to become the Republican nominee for governor of Tennessee next year, continues to speak of the administration of the man he wants to succeed, Governor Don Sundquist, as a handicap to GOP efforts to hold on to the statehouse. In an interview two weeks ago when Hilleary was in town to address the East Shelby Republican ClubÕs Master Meal, the congressman and former Gulf War combat pilot spoke directly to the ÒdivisiveÓ nature of SundquistÕs backing of an income tax. Speaking Saturday to attendees of the Dutch Treat Luncheon at the Audobon CafŽ on Park Ave., Hilleary was somewhat more circumspect. ÒElectability will be an issue for Republicans,Ó Hilleary said, Òconsidering the way things have been done the last few years.Ó He would not elaborate on the reference afterward, but everyone asked about the remark Ð- event co-chairmen Ed McAteer and Charles Peete, for example -- said it was clear he meant Sundquist would be a handicap to the Republican nomineee. The subject of electability loomed large for Hilleary. He seemed to be making a point of addressing fears that have been expressed in some circles that he, though far ahead of any conceivable Republican opponent in both fundraising and political support, might not be competitive enough against former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, the likely Democratic nominee. ÒHow are you going to address that and still win?Ó the congressman asked rhetorically after invoking the specter of Sundquist and his espousal of an income tax. Saying ÒI love to be a risk tasker, but I have no intention of being a kamikaze pilot,Ó he then went on to enumerate reasons why he is confident of victory. Reason One was that Ed Bryant, the incumbent Republican congressman in TennesseeÕs 7th district, got fully 50 percent of his vote for the Shelby County suburbs, and Hilleary suggested he would do as well. ÒItÕs a very Republican district.Ó He then pointed out that the stateÕs three easternmost congressional districts were died-in-the-woll Republican ones and that in his own 4th district he had carried all the counties that former Vice President Al Gore had in his 2000 presidential campaign. Add to that the fact that the remaining districts, except for the 5th (Nashville) and the 9th (inner-city Memphis) were either going upscale in a way that was good for Republican candidates or were conservative and rural, and the odds were good for a conservative Republican candidacy like his own, Hilleary suggested Ð especially since, as he made it clear, he intended to paint Bredesen as a tax-and-spend elitist Democrat. Issues addressed by Hilleary at the luncheon included: education, which he named as his priority and which, he said, had to be freed from the control of teachersÕ unions and dosed with accountability standards; TennCare, which had to be ratcheted down from benefit levels which made it too attractive for would-be patients, including many in other states, and too expensive for the state to administer; campaign-finance reform, which he said was unsatisfactorily addressed in the current McCain-Feingold bill, which gave workers no redress as to how their unions chose to make candidate donations; and, of course, a state income tax, which he opposes and which he called Òthe type of tax that interferes with your life the most.Ó

GORE FRIEND SEES ANOTHER RUN COMING

GORE FRIEND SEES ANOTHER RUN COMING

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Lucia Gilliland and her husband, Memphis attorney Jim Gilliland are among the closest friends that Al and Tipper 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. What will 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 has learned.

Sunday, September 9, 2001

SUNDQUIST A BURDEN FOR THE GOP, HILLEARY SUGGESTS

But the odds still favor a Republican gubernatorial candidate, he says.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 9, 2001 at 4:00 AM

U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary (R-4th), the consensus favorite to become the Republican nominee for governor of Tennessee next year, continues to speak of the administration of the man he wants to succeed, Governor Don Sundquist, as a handicap to GOP efforts to hold on to the statehouse. In an interview two weeks ago when Hilleary was in town to address the East Shelby Republican Club’s Master Meal, the congressman and former Gulf War combat pilot spoke directly to the “divisive” nature of Sundquist’s backing of an income tax. Speaking Saturday to attendees of the Dutch Treat Luncheon at the Audobon Cafe on Park Ave., Hilleary was somewhat more circumspect. “Electability will be an issue for Republicans,” Hilleary said, “considering the way things have been done the last few years.” He would not elaborate on the reference afterward, but everyone asked about the remark --- event co-chairmen Ed McAteer and Charles Peete, for example -- said it was clear he meant Sundquist would be a handicap to the Republican nomineee. The subject of electability loomed large for Hilleary. He seemed to be making a point of addressing fears that have been expressed in some circles that he, though far ahead of any conceivable Republican opponent in both fundraising and political support, might not be competitive enough against former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, the likely Democratic nominee. “How are you going to address that and still win?” the congressman asked rhetorically after invoking the specter of Sundquist and his espousal of an income tax. Saying “I love to be a risk tasker, but I have no intention of being a kamikaze pilot,” he then went on to enumerate reasons why he is confident of victory. Reason One was that Ed Bryant, the incumbent Republican congressman in Tennessee’s 7th district, got fully 50 percent of his vote for the Shelby County suburbs, and Hilleary suggested he would do as well. “It’s a very Republican district.” He then pointed out that the state’s three easternmost congressional districts were died-in-the-woll Republican ones and that in his own 4th district he had carried all the counties that former Vice President Al Gore had in his 2000 presidential campaign. Add to that the fact that the remaining districts, except for the 5th (Nashville) and the 9th (inner-city Memphis) were either going upscale in a way that was good for Republican candidates or were conservative and rural, and the odds were good for a conservative Republican candidacy like his own, Hilleary suggested -- especially since, as he made it clear, he intended to paint Bredesen as a tax-and-spend elitist Democrat. Issues addressed by Hilleary at the luncheon included: education, which he named as his priority and which, he said, had to be freed from the control of teachers’ unions and dosed with accountability standards; TennCare, which had to be ratcheted down from benefit levels which made it too attractive for would-be patients, including many in other states, and too expensive for the state to administer; campaign-finance reform, which he said was unsatisfactorily addressed in the current McCain-Feingold bill, which gave workers no redress as to how their unions chose to make candidate donations; and, of course, a state income tax, which he opposes and which he called “the type of tax that interferes with your life the most.”

Saturday, September 8, 2001

A ROAD SHOW WORTH SEEING

A ROAD SHOW WORTH SEEING

Posted By on Sat, Sep 8, 2001 at 4:00 AM



It is reasonably well known that U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis' 9th congressional district has become a big-time player in the cathode-tube universe of Inside-the-Beltway Washington. What is not so widely known is some of the dramas the 31-year-old third-term congressman has played in.

A road-show version of one of them, called "Campaign-Finance Reform," came to town Friday, and a good time was hand by all, despite the absence, due to a prostate operation, of the drama's main player, Senator John McCain (who, said Ford at one point with respectful irreverence, "is the one that sucks up all the air time").

The other familiar cable-news faces were there, however Ð Sen. Russ Feingoldthe Senate co-sponsor, with McCain of the major extant reform bill, McCain-Feingold; Reps. Chris Shays (R-Ct.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.), sponsors of the companion House bill Ð along with two not-so-familiar ones, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a legendary veteran of the Civil Rights movement; Rep. Marion Berry(D-Ark.); and Scott Harshbarger, head of Common Cause.

All had their moments in the presentation of the common cause, which was, of course, the bill to ban impose strict limits on the cornucopic, corporate-tainted Òsoft moneyÓ which the sponsors all feel restricts the civil rights of ordinary Americans and favors special interests.

(A full report will be posted Saturday)

Friday, September 7, 2001

JIM KYLE'S COUNTY MAYOR POLL

Guess who it shows to be the leader.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2001 at 4:00 AM

From: D E C I S I O N R E S E A R C H CALIFORNIA WASHINGTON D.C. MEMORANDUM To: Senator Jim Kyle
From:
Bob Meadow
Mark Mehringer

Date: August 27, 2001
Subject: Shelby County Polling Results

Our research is completed and we wanted to provide you with a brief statement of our key findings and their implications. These findings are based on 400 completed interviews taken from a sample of likely May, 2002 Democratic Primary election voters in Shelby County, Tennessee. Interviews were conducted August 15, 16, and 18, 2001. Sampling error is +/- 4.9%. Respondents were carefully screened to reflect voters in the May, 2001 Democrat Primary election. Our expectation is that most of the turnout will be limited to those “firm” Democratic voters. Summary Conclusion: You lead the field of candidates in the Democratic primary election for Shelby County Mayor, as you are the best-known candidate and have over a four-to-one favorability ratio. Carol Chumney benefits from being the only woman in the race, but still trails you significantly. Byrd is relatively unknown and trails far behind you and also trails Chumney overall. Other Key Findings: F The Candidates Nearly two-thirds of the voters are familiar with you, with four times as many having a favorable impression of you as have an unfavorable impression. Carol Chumney is less known to voters than you are, and Harold Byrd is largely unknown. Byrd also has a much lower favorability ratio. Your name recognition is bolstered by your strong profile in your Memphis based Senate District. Your image among Democratic voters has improved significantly from when you ran for reelection last year. Your income tax position has not hurt you with key Democratic constituencies and most people have forgotten the “gas” issue. Your favorability rating is especially high among those voters who have heard of all the candidates. Chumney is not as well known among African Americans as you are, and yet black voters will comprise a majority of the primary vote. Byrd’s profile is much weaker in Memphis than in the rest of Shelby County. Because Memphis accounts for 85% of likely Democratic primary voters, your strong Memphis base works to your advantage and against Byrd. F The Election When voters are given basic biographical information about the candidates, you lead with over one-third of the vote, followed by Chumney in second and Byrd trailing by a wide margin. Chumney benefits from being the only woman in the race, performing particularly well among young, white women. About one-fifth of her support comes from voters, particularly women, who do not know any of the candidates and likely vote for her only because they want a woman. Over the course of the campaign, this is likely to change if you emphasize women’s issues, your wife’s popularity and the fact you are the only candidate who is married with children. As the candidate raising a young family, you will be able to connect better with voters on important local issues such as schools, crime and taxes. In addition, your vote share is larger among voters who presently recognize all three candidates, which is a reflection of your credibility. Byrd’s support is limited to voters in the Seventh Congressional District outside Memphis and older men, and he performs poorly among most other groups. Conclusion: You are the clear front-runner, with the highest name recognition and the broadest base of support. You perform well in both Memphis and the rest of Shelby County. Chumney benefits from being the only woman in the race, leading among voters who do not recognize any of the candidates, but performs poorly outside Memphis. Byrd’s support is limited to suburban Shelby County, and shows little potential in Memphis. Lastly, among voters who know all three candidates, you win. Call with any questions.

CHUMNEY RESPONDS

...with less than full acceptance of Kyle's results. Surprised?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2001 at 4:00 AM

STATEMENT OF CHUMNEY FOR MAYOR CAMPAIGN RE: Memorandum to Memphis Flyer by Decision Research for Jim Kyle While the poll summary release for Jim Kyle in the Memphis Flyer was interesting reading, the noticeable absence from the release of any real numbers as to the actual percentage of voters supporting Carol Chumney in comparison with Jim Kyle shows the strength of her position in the race. But, Carol doesnÕt need Washington and California pollsters to tell her how people in Shelby County think. She looks forward to continuing to hear the opinions of Shelby Countians firsthand in the months ahead. (Anything you want to say, Harold?)

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Looking Back: A TAXING TIME AHEAD (9/1/99)

Looking Back: A TAXING TIME AHEAD (9/1/99)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2001 at 4:00 AM

It is two-and-a-half months away, and numerous distractions (Memphis', most notably, is the mayor's race) lie in between, but the special session of the legislature that Governor Don Sundquist is preparing to call for the first week of November will doubtless be one of the stormiest and most controversial periods in the state's political history. Several events of the past week or so make that clear. Among them: á As part of his preparation for the session, Sundquist is on a speaking tour of the state. Last Thursday that took him to a luncheon meeting of the Memphis Exchange Club, during which he used a variety of newly prepared charts and graphs to document his point that, without significant tax reform (and, in practice, that means increased taxes), the state will incur a $382 million deficit next year. Sundquist spelled out the areas most vulnerable to a revenue shortfall -- education, prisons, TennCare, roadbuilding among them -- and joked that he had ordered all state departments needing new vehicles to buy white ones instead of orange ones to save money on the paint. "This year's budget was put together with Scotch tape and baling wire," said Sundquist, who added he would be hesitant to propose specific formulas himself after seeing several versions of his tax reform plan shot down by the legislature last spring. The governor reiterated, however, that he would be willing to accept a state income tax if the legislature proposed one. "I'm willing to take responsibility and the political hit because I know what's required," Sundquist said. á The hits weren't long in coming, and the first salvo was lobbed in from a fairly lofty and distance source. The Wall Street Journal weighed in the very next day with a Friday editorial attacking the Sundquist administration for backing off from what it noted had been the governor's onetime commitment not to support a state income tax. "[L]ike many governors in their second term, he [Sundquist] is building a legacy that includes $582 million in new spending this year," the newspaper said, continuing, "The prospect of a special session has supporters of an income tax salivating: They range from teacher unions to businesses that want to shift their tax burden to ordinary folks." The WSJ editorial noted that Tennessee in 1978 passed "a constitutional amendment capping budget increases to the rate of economic growth unless the legislature specifically authorized an exception," but that the cap had been exceeded "nine times over the last 20 years." The paper quoted Michael Gilstrap of the Tennessee Family Institute, an ad hoc organization opposed to new taxation, as saying, "Tennessee is growing its government faster than the big spending states of the Northeast." The Journal called for the issue of a state income tax to be put on a state referendum ballot. "Of course, that won't happen," the editorial concluded, "because the real crisis is a lack of courage to reform the budget coupled with the knowledge that the voters of the Volunteer State aren't about to sign up for a tax they know will never go away." á Meanwhile, two conservative anti-tax groups promised anew to organize stout opposition to Sundquist's tax reform program. One of them was Gilstrap's Tennessee Family Institute. Another, the "Free Enterprise Coalition," is headed by former state Republican chairman Tommy Hopper, who this week likened the pending conflict to "war" and invokes the blood-and-guts rhetoric of the late General George S. Patton to justify his opposition. "It will tear apart parties. It will dramatically change the makeup of the legislature. And it will be one tough campaign," vowed Hopper of the upcoming special session struggle. á On the other side, several state PR firms are offering support to the state's main ad hoc pro-tax group, Citizens for Fair Taxes, which has already enlisted the services of former Senator Howard Baker and former Governor Ned Ray McWherter. Among those offering their aid and comfort as of this week: former McWherter spokesman Ken Renner; Lewis Lavine, a longtime aide to former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander; and Mark McNeely of the prominent Nashville agency, McNeely Piffot and Fox. Bo Johnson of the PR firm of Smith, Johnson, and Carr, which is heading up the main effort for CFT, announced that the ad hoc organization will spend $1.8 million to convince Tennesseans that the state is in a fiscal crisis. Johnson said, however, that the campaign would not specifically mention or endorse a state income tax in the TV, radio, and newspaper ads it will purchase, acknowledging that polls show that most Tennesseans are not yet convinced that the state needs to raise money. á Agreement to that last point came from outgoing Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen (see "Editorial," this week), who told the Nashville Tennessean in a weekend interview, "The argument being made is we [the state] need more money. But I'm saying I'm not on board with that notion, even though a lot of people are." Bredesen went so far as to say that the whole notion that the state is in fiscal crisis has been "overstated." (Perhaps not coincidentally, Bredesen -- the unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate against the GOP's Sundquist in 1994 -- also indicated that he may harbor political ambitions for 2002. "It [being governor] is something I've wanted to do. I wish I'd been governor, and I tried hard to be governor," Bredesen said.) The Nashville mayor did say that he thought a state income tax would be a fairer method of taxation than further reliance on the current state sales tax.
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