Sunday, June 2, 2002

THREE DEGREES OF CONFIDENCE

THREE DEGREES OF CONFIDENCE

Posted By on Sun, Jun 2, 2002 at 4:00 AM

  • State Senator John Ford (D-District 29, Memphis) professes to be unconcerned about his Democratic primary challenger, civil rights attorney Richard Fields, who has indicated he will confront Ford rigorously on several alleged breaches of propriety in office.

    “Nobody’s going to be paying any attention to that guy. He’s got no standing at all,” said Ford, a long-term senator and member of an established Memphis political family.

    The senator, who chairs the Senate General Welfare, Health and Human Resources Committee and belongs to a number of other influential legislative panels, says he plans to do no active campaigning. “I don’t need to. The people are already coming to me on their own,” he said.

    Ford and his brother Joe Ford, an interim Shelby County commissioner who has been newly nominated by Shelby County Democrats to continue in that role, were conspicuous Thursday in their attendance at a fundraiser for Shelby County Circuit Court Clerk Jimmy Moore, who runs on the Republican label and is being opposed this year by Democratic nominee Dell Gill, a frequent candidate.

    Moore, a onetime member of the local Democrats’ Finance Committee, has generally enjoyed backing across party lines and has been especially favored by members of the Ford family.

  • 7thDistrict congressman Ed Bryant (R-Henderson), now opposing former Governor Lamar Alexander in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson, is boasting his showing in a straw poll conducted in Nashville this week by a would-be successor, State Senator Mark Norris of Collierville.

    The poll, conducted by Norris in a hospitality suite at the Renaissance Hotel after the annual Statesmen’s Dinner Wednesday night, showed Bryant the primary winner over Alexander by a margin of 296 votes to Alexander’s 163. Though acknowledging the sampling is “not scientific,” Bryant has mentioned it in a news release and in several public appearances, including one Friday at Memphis’ downtown Plaza Club.

    For his part, Alexander fairly sputtered with contempt about the announced straw poll results, saying at the formal opening of his Memphis headquarters on Poplar Avenue Saturday that Bryant’s claim didn’t “even deserve a comment.” Aides took a lighter approach, with both Kevin Phillips and Josh Holley, his press liaisons, saying the straw poll wasn’t “worth the [figurative[ straw” in it.

    Both the former governor and Holley defended as accurate their own home-grown poll results from Whit Ayes and Associates, which show, among other things, that Alexander leads Bryant everywhere, even in the congressman’s 7th District bailiwick - attributing such results to “name recognition.”

    Alexander, whose basic contention is that he would make a stronger opponent for Democrat Bob Clement in a fall race, said not even a Bryant victory in the primary would disprove such a thesis. “I am better able to attract independents and Democratic voters,” he said flatly.

  • State Representative Steve McDaniel of Parker’s Crossroads said after the Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville Wednesday night that reports of his fatalism concerning reelection to the post of House Republican Leader are, in effect, greatly exaggerated. “I will seek the office again, and I expect to be reelected to it,” he said, countering published suggestions that he was resigned to the loss of the position after casting his lot with House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh‘s 4.5 -percent flat-tax bill in recent weeks>

    At one point in post-dinner proceedings at the Renaissance, State Representative Tre Hargett of Bartlett, widely considered a potential seeker of the House GOP leadership position , approached McDaniel in a hallway and playfully pinned his arms from behind.

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