Sunday, November 10, 2002

'FORD EXPLORER'

'FORD EXPLORER'

Posted By on Sun, Nov 10, 2002 at 4:00 AM

DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: Have You Driven A Ford Lately? A party in search of new leadership suddenly got a fresh face to consider when Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) Friday a.m. announced his bid for House Minority leader. It's perhaps too early to tell what impact his announcement will have on the prospects of fellow candidates, but his rationale for running was certainly clear. Making his announcement on "Imus," Ford said "a new era of leadership and vision and energy on our side of the aisle is desperately needed," and argued his opponents "would represent the same old, same old, the ways of the past." Ford pledged to work with Pres. Bush "when his interest and, frankly, his position will benefit the nation." He readily claimed the underdog mantle and sought to blunt the perception that he is too young by noting, "experience hasn't produced much on my side of the Congress."
  • If he were to win the race for Minority Leader, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) would be the highest ranking elected African American in history.
  • Ford officially announced Friday a.m. on "Imus." From the announcement:

    Ford: "I have done some thinking over the last day or so and after having talked with several of my colleagues as well as other Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in my district and around the country, and have decided that I'm going to offer my candidacy for the House Democratic leader position -- all in an effort to bring about a change that I think many of us in the Congress, particularly Democrats, are seeking and searching for. A new era of leadership and vision and energy on our side of aisle is desperately needed.

    "As much as I respect and have worked closely with both [Reps.] Nancy [Pelosi, D., CA] and Martin [Frost,D., TX] over the past six years -- my six years in Congress -- it has become abundantly clear that their leadership, in many ways, would represent the same old, same old, the ways of the past in many ways. And if we're serious about change within our caucus, which I sense many of my colleagues are. ... I think unfortunately and undeservedly that our party has become associated with the notions of grid lock and obstructionalism. I think President Bush has done a good job of painting us that way. However, I think nothing could be further from the truth. I think our role as Democrats here in the next two years, especially the next two years as an opposition party, will require a lot more than just a lot of yelling and screaming and, frankly, unconstructive criticism. If we're serious about being an opposition party and serious about doing what's in the best interest of the nation -- which I think requires working with the president when his interest and, frankly, his position will benefit the nation."

    Ford continues: "Democrats showed some success on Tuesday night. We won some key governor's races. ... My governor won in spite of numerous visits by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others, and he did it because he focused on answers and solutions. And Democrats and Republicans and Independents all rallied around his campaign. And, frankly, that's been missing in the Congress. As much as I respect Dick -- I wish him the very best. He was the hardest working, the biggest money raiser, and, frankly the most passionate of Democrats -- but he was just unable to put a team together to take the majority. I believe the leadership that I would offer as leader would not only allow us to substantively challenge the president and support thing in the best interest in the nation but also ... navigate the amazing diversity within our caucus -- not racial diversity as much ideological, gender, and geographical diversity that I believe makes our party so rich, different, unique, and quite frankly, able to lead this nation.

    "I realize I start off as an underdog. Nancy and Martin have been campaigning for this for a little over a year now. Nancy ... is the minority whip in the Congress and Martin is the chair of the caucus. But I think my colleagues in the Democratic side are interested in real change. If they are, I submit that my candidacy and leadership would offer that change, would offer that introduction of new ideas and certainly would offer an introduction of new faces. Not only would it be me, it would a whole new generation of leadership in Congress. Based on conversations I've had with colleagues in the past 24 hours, there is vast interest in something like this."

    More Ford: "Some would point to my lack of experience in Congress. I appreciate and respect that. ... But experience hasn't produced much on my side of the Congress up to the time that I've been in Congress. We have not landed in the majority. And, frankly, it may be time for a clean break from the ways of the past" ("Imus In The Morning," MSNBC, 11/8).

    On The Trail

    Ford allies tout that Ford served as the chair of the TN Coordinated Campaign, where Dems picked up the TN 04 race and the TN GOV race. '02 candidates Ford campaigned for, outside of TN: atty Jack Conway (D) KY 03; Rep. Dennis Moore (D) in KS 03; Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO). Ford also agreed to stump for Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA 06) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ 12) (Hotline sources, 11/8).

    Friday, November 8, 2002

    Local Colors

    Election 2002 demonstrated anew the importance of Memphis in statewide elections.

    Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Bill Gibbons, the district attorney general in these parts and a man prominent in this year's Republican political races, especially that of Lamar Alexander's for the U.S. Senate, had a secret to confide Monday night, as Alexander, accompanied by outgoing Senator Fred Thompson, staged his last rally before the local GOP faithful at the new Holiday Inn on Central Avenue.

    The secret was this: Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, a nominal Democrat who was supporting his party's candidate for governor, former Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen, but had been lending serious indirect support to Alexander in his campaign against Democratic Senate candidate Bob Clement, would be playing a major role on Alexander's behalf Monday night.

    Our city's mayor had agreed, said Gibbons, to introduce Alexander at his expected victory celebration in Nashville.

    Not only might Herenton's emergence as an open and declared ally of the Republican conceivably transform partisan politics in Tennessee, it also was one more factor illustrating the unusual prominence of Memphis and Shelby County in shaping this year's election results.

    In fact, the political year 2002 saw all the major statewide campaigns converge on Memphis as Election Day drew near, a reminder to those with long memories of days of yore, when the city and its environs loomed disproportionately large on the state scene.

    That was the time, during the long rule of Edward Hull Crump over the political affairs of Memphis and Shelby County from the late 1920s through the mid-1950s, that statewide elections might be conducted across the breadth and length of Tennessee but they were decided right here, on the banks of the Mississippi.

    "Boss Crump" and "Big Shelby" were virtually synonymous terms indicating the extent of the domination of the rest of Tennessee by its southwest corner. With rare exceptions, governors and senators were designated by Memphis' long-term political machine. As one example, Gordon Browning, a native of the West Tennessee town of Huntington, had been an intimate of Crump's and was first elected governor, with the Great Man's say-so, in the late 1930s.

    Browning had an independent streak, however, and he kept bristling at the idea of being considered Boss Crump's puppet, so he kept falling in and out of favor with Crump, and the last time he won election, in 1948, it was in direct opposition to Crump's handpicked man, Jim McCord. That was a time of postwar reform sentiment, late in the reign of Boss Crump, however, and Browning was able to win an upset. (A Tennessee presidential contender -- first of a long series to come -- was voted in the same year. In a three-cornered race, Estes Kefauver defeated Crump's man for the Senate, John A. Mitchell.)

    That seemed to be that, except that Boss Crump, not quite in his dotage, was determined not to be bested and had discovered an ambitious young war veteran in Dickson named Frank Clement. More or less as his last piece of power-brokering in this life, Crump boosted Clement against the man he considered a renegade and he won handily. Crump was able to see Clement reelected in 1954, the year he died.

    And, though there were various freelance efforts by various of his former associates to retool the machine and maintain its dominance, Crump had named his last state leader, and, so, it would seem, had any force emanating from Memphis and Shelby County.

    A Shelby Countian, Dr. Winfield Dunn, a Republican, was elected governor in 1970, over Democrat John Jay Hooker of Nashville, but that victory arose not so much out of a local power base as it did from the tide of Southern Republicanism, which had begun in the aftermath of the civil rights revolution, finally washing into Tennessee. (All previous statewide elections, at least in the 20th century, had been decided in the Democratic primaries.) And the then young and dynamic Hooker happened also to have suffered some embarrassing business losses which tarnished his reputation and made voters look to an unknown.

    And even Dunn decided to tarry in Nashville, the state capital, after leaving office in 1975. He is virtually an unknown figure in Memphis today, though the UT college of medicine here is named for him, and that fact symbolizes Memphis' exclusion from the political center as much as anything else in the post-Crump era.

    When Nashville congressman Bob Clement, this year's Democratic nominee, was struggling this fall to rise in the polls against former Governor Alexander, he lamented, "If only we had the same kind of name recognition ... ." For a scion of the family which had once dominated state politics after that initial boost from Boss Crump, it was an ironic confession and a sign of different times.

    But the return of Clement, a frequent visitor, to Memphis this past weekend was another sign -- one perhaps indicating the Bluff City is, once again, where statewide leaders are confirmed.

    "Shelby County is where it's at," said Clement Sunday night by way of explaining his presence here for much of the last weekend and for the last whole day before Tuesday's statewide election which would, of course, decide his personal and political fate.

    Clement, the Democratic congressman from Nashville's 5th District, was well aware that the smart money and the pollsters had made Republican opponent Lamar Alexander a prohibitive favorite to win the Senate seat being vacated by the GOP's Fred Thompson, and he had to have noticed that none of the network political talk shows had his race on their boards for discussion on Sunday.

    But he soldiered on, showing up for a packed party in his honor at the Midtown home of activist David Upton, and his good nature and dogged determination shone through. Acknowledging the presence of his party's 7th District nominee, Tim Barron, Clement told the crowd, "He'll be around awhile," and the crowd's brisk applause for the prospect of Barron's enduring as a political presence past the likely worst-case scenario barely concealed a pang for veteran Clement, who was not likely to be so fortunate in the case of defeat.

    "We're going to win!" said one of his volunteer aides, Debbie Johnson, when asked to estimate the outcome, and her eyes shone with conviction. Clement himself would nod sagely later on when reminded that the ultimate science might not reside with the pollsters, who have shown Clement anywhere from 6 to 12 points behind Alexander in the last week, but with the spirit of Werner Heisenberg, whose Uncertainty Principle established the preeminence of the observer, mayhap even the participant, in wrenching fate out of its seemingly predetermined paths.

    And Shelby County, with its mass of black (i.e., Democratic) voters and, for that matter, with its teeming suburban white (i.e., Republican) blocs, had become a special target for the major candidates in both parties in this last week of campaigning. The bottom line was this: Democratic candidates were dependent on Memphis' large inner-city black vote; Republican office-seekers needed to whet up the equally huge suburban white vote. Either bloc could be crucial to a candidate's hopes for success.

    They had all been here over and over of late. Van Hilleary, the GOP candidate for governor, made a brief stopover Saturday night at the Republicans' East Memphis "Victory 2000" headquarters with Sen. Bill Frist, and he asserted, "This is my fifth trip here in the last week, and I'm coming back Monday." (Actually, he came only as near as Covington, where he did his best to rouse the distant suburban expatriates who in recent years have made south Tipton County a Republican bailiwick and whom the state House Speaker made sure to cut loose from his district during the most recent reapportionment.)

    GOP Senate candidate Alexander had been much in evidence the previous weekend, doing a two- or three-day stopover and making much the same point as would Clement -- that Shelby County has the votes that would make the difference in this election. He was back again Monday night for a last rally at the Holiday Inn on Central Avenue, appearing with outgoing Senator Fred Thompson and making sure his listeners among the local Republican faithful were aware that he had chosen Memphis as his final venue on purpose.

    As Clement -- who made his last visit here Monday at an airport rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen, prepared by Memphis' other major Democratic force, the Ford family -- had done earlier, Alexander noted that Memphis had perhaps not received enough stroking from government and promised to help remedy that.

    And so, of course, did Bredesen, who has been back and forth to the Bluff City enough times -- always praising its "vibrance," even at the expense of Nashville, the city he led in recent years -- to claim honorary citizenship.

    The same could be said, even more firmly, for Marsha Blackburn, the GOP's 7th District nominee and so confident of a victory over Democrat Tim Barron that she spent much of her time campaigning for local Republican nominees for other offices. Blackburn had, in fact, taken a residence on Highway 64 in Cordova for the duration.

    And then there was the one exponent of a major statewide campaign who lived here. That was Steve Cohen, Memphis' Midtown state senator, who, though not a candidate himself this year, was virtually synonymous with the cause of the lottery referendum. He, too, was heard from locally in these last day.

    Flanked by Shelby County Democratic chairman Gale Jones Carson, who added her straightforward endorsement of the lottery referendum on Tuesday's ballot, Cohen, father of that initiative and its nurturer for 16 long years, warned Monday at a press conference at his Midtown residence that lottery opponents were up to skullduggery as the vote neared.

    As a flashing sign in his front window behind him kept cycling from "EDUCATION LOTTERY" to "VOTE" and back again, Cohen charged that Gambling Free Tennessee, the group responsible for a well-funded campaign against the lottery this year, had been operating under the radar of the state's election code through a shadow corporation known as GFT, Inc., which, he said, was obligated to file financial disclosures and had not done so.

    The organization, he said, could be a means of cloaking "illegal contributions or some they don't want to divulge." Casino interests he named as the most likely possibilities in the latter category, and he brandished a publication put out by Baptist opponents of the lottery which acknowledged that "gambling proponents" were also in opposition to it.

    Whether tongue-in-cheek or not, Cohen said, "It was through divine intervention that we learned of this today [Monday] and not tomorrow."

    On Tuesday, as rains threatened to hold down voter turnout, Cohen was still on the case, going from polling place to polling place and reporting, to his consternation, that Sycamore View Church of Christ had a flashing sign too, reading "VOTE NO ON LOTTERY" across the church's marquee. "It's digital. It works off a computer," a church secretary noted proudly, and in that sense the opposition had something of a lead on Cohen, whose own flashing sign at home had a homespun look.

    All the same, Cohen's neon sign was a throwback to a former time, one in which Memphis personalities, Memphis interests, and Memphis constituencies loomed large in state affairs, and a time, in fact, which may have returned.

    Thursday, November 7, 2002

    HOW IT LOOKS

    HOW IT LOOKS

    Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Wednesday, November 6, 2002

    SIGNS OF THE TIME:THE LOTTERY VOTE

    SIGNS OF THE TIME:THE LOTTERY VOTE

    Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Flanked by Shelby County Democratic chairman Gale Jones Carson, who added her straightforward endorsement of the lottery referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, state senator Steve Cohen, father of that initiative and its nurturer for 16 long years, warned Monday at a press conference at his Midtown residence that lottery opponents were up to skullduggery as the vote neared.

    As a flashing sign in his front window behind him kept cycling from “EDUCATION LOTTERY” to “VOTE” and back again, Cohen charged that Gambling Free Tennessee, the group responsible for a well-funded campaign against the lottery this year, had been operating under the radar of the state’s election code through a shadow corporation known as GFT,Inc., which, he said, was obligated to file financial disclosures and had not done so. The organization, he said, could be a means of cloaking “illegal contributions or some they don’t want to divulge.” Casino interests he named as the most likely possibilities in the latter category, and he brandished a publication put out by Baptist opponents of the lottery which acknowledged that “gambling proponents” were also in opposition to it.

    Whether tongue in cheek or not, Cohen said, “It was through divine intervention that we learned of this today [Monday] and not tomorrow.”

    On Tuesday, as rains threatened to hold down voter turnout, Cohen was still on the case, gong from polling place to polling place and reporting, to his consternation, that Sycamore View Church of Christ, had a flashing sign, too, saying “VOTE NO ON LOTTERY” across the church’s marquee. “It’s digital. It works off a computer” a church secretary noted proudly, and in that sense the opposition had something of a lead on Cohen, whose own flashing sign at home had a homespun, neon look..

    The polls, however, were still telling a different story, predicting by leads ranging from minute to considerable, that the lottery, whose proceeds would benefit a scholarship fund, would prevail.

    Following is the editorial published in last week’s Flyer on the lottery question:

    The Lottery’s a Good bet

    When we made the decision back in 1990 (the second year of the Flyer's existence) to exhaustively cover the various elections of that year, we made a second, related decision: While we would neither dissemble on matters of public import nor attempt to conceal our attitude, we would not tell our readers how to vote.

    We have reconsidered our nonendorsement policy from time to time but, ultimately, have found no cause to reverse it. The unexpected good service of some elected officials and the unanticipated follies of others have, in fact, underscored the soundness of our original judgment on the matter.

    But the current debate over the lottery referendum on the November 5th ballot touches on matters so much larger than the specific language or limited intent of the initiative itself that we find we must have our say in the matter.

    We are partly emboldened to do so because the organized secular opponents of the lottery made a cynical judgment months ago that if they could make the lottery's chief exponent for the last two decades -- state Senator Steve Cohen -- the issue and proceed to besmirch his character, they had the battle as good as won. (We're not making this up; it's in black and white in a manifesto meant to be circulated only among lottery opponents but which fortunately leaked to the outside world.)

    Senator Cohen may have his foibles, like the rest of us, but we only commend his steadfast pursuit of his goal, his overcoming of intractable legislative opposition, and his good-faith willingness to refine the issue. The lottery proposal that ultimately passed the legislature stands to benefit public education, in emulation of Georgia's highly successful Hope scholarships, which are funded by that state's lottery.

    Senator Cohen has argued trenchantly that the lottery debate is a reprise of those controversies that, in earlier generations, raged concerning female suffrage, integrated lunch counters, rock-and-roll, and the like. Civilization did not decline with the advent of the aforementioned; it measurably improved and strengthened itself. Cohen has persuasively disputed opponents' arguments that mainly the poor would patronize the lottery, that the sons and daughters of the middle class would be the exclusive beneficiaries of lottery-funded scholarships, or that public interest in the lottery would wane, requiring larger payoffs, more inventive offerings, and increasingly desperate efforts by the state to entice potential customers. He cites figures from the Georgia experience that indicate the reverse of all these tendencies.

    The opponents of the lottery are on firmer ground when they question the extent to which the state would actually benefit financially. In truth, Tennessee's ongoing fiscal dilemma is severe enough that lottery proceeds might be a relative drop in the bucket of need. But that's no reason to let the cup pass from our lips.

    As for the argument that a lottery would corrupt the state or subvert our public morals -- please. Tunica, Mississippi, a few scant miles to the south, is already catering to our citizens' gaming appetites (as has the dog track in neighboring West Memphis, Arkansas) and has so far neglected to channel the proceeds back into Tennessee education or any other publicly useful purpose.

    The lottery is, in the best sense, a forward step. It is the right move at the right time for the people of Tennessee, and we think a vote for it is both positive and timely.

    POLITICS: Local Colors

    Election 2002 demonstrated anew the importance of Memphis in statewide elections.

    Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    LOCAL COLORS MEMPHIS -- Bill Gibbons, the District Attorney General in these parts and a man prominent in this year’s Republican political races, especially that of Lamar Alexander’s for the U.S. Senate, had a secret to confide Monday night, as Alexander, accompanied by outgoing Senator Fred Thompson, staged his last rally before the local GOP faithful at the new Holiday Inn on Central Avenue. The secret was this: Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, a nominal Democrat who was supporting his party’s candidate for governor, former Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen, but had been lending serious indirect support to Alexander in his campaign against Democratic Senate candidate Bob Clement, would be playing a major role on Alexander’s behalf Monday night. Our city’s African-American mayor had agreed, said Gibbons, to introduce Alexander at his expected victory celebration in Nashville.

    Not only might Herenton’s emergence as an open and declared ally of the Republican conceivably transform partisan politics in Tennessee, it also was one more factor illustrating the unusual prominence of Memphis and Shelby County in shaping this year’s election results. In fact, the political year 2002 saw all the major statewide campaigns converge on Memphis as election day drew near, a reminder to those with long memories of days of yore, when the city and its environs loomed disproportionately large on the state scene. That was the time, during the long rule of Edward Hull Crump over the political affairs of Memphis and Shelby County from the late --20s through the mid-Ô50s, that statewide elections might be conducted across the breadth and length of Tennessee but they were decided right here, on the banks of the Mississippi. “Boss Crump” and “Big Shelby” were virtually synonymous terms indicating the extent of the domination of the rest of Tennessee by its southwest corner. With rare exceptions, governors and senators were designated by Memphis’ long-term political machine. As one example, Gordon Browning, a native of the West Tennessee town of Huntington, had been an intimate of Crump’s and was first elected governor, with the Great Man’s say-so, in the late ‘30s. Browning had an independent streak, however, and he kept bristling at the idea of being considered Boss Crump’s puppet; so he kept falling in and out of favor with Crump, and the last time he won election, in 1948, it was in direct opposition to Crump’s handpicked man, Jim McCord. That was a time of post-war reform sentiment, late in the reign of Boss Crump, however, and Browning was able to win an upset. (A Tennessee presidential contender -- first of a long series to come -- was voted in the same year and the same; in a three-cornered race, Estes Kefauver defeated Crump’s man for the Senate, John A. Mitchell.) That seemed to be that, except that Boss Crump, not quite in his dotage, was determined not to be bested, and had discovered an ambitious young war veteran in Dickson named Frank Clement, and, more or less as his last piece of power brokering in this life, boosted Clement against the man he considered a renegade and won handily. Crump was able to see Clement relected one more time, in 1954, the year he died. And, though there were various free-lance efforts by various of his former associates to re-tool the machine and maintain its dominance, E.H. Crump had named his last state leader, and, so, it would seem, had any force emanating from Memphis and Shelby County. To be sure, a Shelby Countian, Dr. Winfield Dunn, a Republican, was elected governor in 1970, over Democrat John Jay Hooker of Nashville, but that victory arose not so much out of a local power base as it did from the tide of Southern Republicanism, which had begun in the aftermath of the civil rights revolution, finally washing into Tennessee. (All previous statewide elections, at least in the 20th century, had been decided in the Democratic primaries.) And the then young and dynamic Hooker happened also to have suffered some embarrassing business losses which tarnished his reputation and made voters look to an unknown. And even Dunn decided to tarry in Nashville, the state capital, after leaving office in 1975. He is virtually an unknown figure in Memphis today, though the U-T college of medicine here is named for him, and that fact symbolizes Memphis’ exclusion from the political center as much as anything else in the post-Crump era.

    When Nashville congressman Bob Clement, this year’s Democratic nominee, was struggling this fall to rise in the polls against former governor Alexander, he lamented, “If only we had the same kind of name recognitionÉ” For a scion of the family which had once dominated state politics after that initial boost from Boss Crump, it was an ironic confession and a sign of different times. But the return of Clement, a frequent visitor, to Memphis this past weekend was another sign -- one perhaps indicating the the Bluff City is, once again, where statewide leaders are confirmed.

    “Shelby County is where it’s at,” said Clement Sunday night by way of explaining his presence here for much of the last weekend and for the last whole day before Tuesday’s statewide election which would, of course, decide his personal and political fate. Clement, the Democratic congressman from Nashville’s 5th District, was well aware that the smart money and the pollsters had made Republican opponent Lamar Alexander a prohibitive favorite to win the Senate seat being vacated by the GOP’s Fred Thompson, and he had to have noticed that none of the network political talk shows had his race on their boards for discussion on Sunday.

    But he soldiered on, showing up for a packed party in his honor at the Midtown home of activist David Upton , and his good-nature and dogged determinination shone through. Acknowledging the presence of his party’s 7th District nominee, Tim Barron, Clement told the crowd, “He’ll be around awhile,” and the crowd’s brisk applause for the prospect of Barron’s enduring as a political presence past the likely worst-case-scenario barely concealed a pang for veteran Clement, who was not likely to be so fortunate in the case of defeat. “We’re going to win!” said one of his volunteer aides, Debbie Johnson, when asked to estimate the outcome, and her eyes shone with conviction, and Clement himself would nod sagely later on when reminded that the ultimate science might not reside with the pollsters, who have showed Clement anywhere from 6 to 12 point behind Alexander in the last week, but with the spirit of Werner Heisenberg, whose Uncertainty Principle established the preeminence of the observer, mayhap even the participant, in wrenching fate out of its seemingly predetermined paths.

    And Shelby County, with its mass of black (i.e.,Democratic) voters and, for that matter, with its teeming suburban white (i.e, Republican) blocs, had become a special target for the major candidates in both parties in this last week of campaigning. The bottom line was this: Democratic candidates were dependent on Memphis’ large inner-city black vote; Republican office-seekers needed to whet up the equally huge suburban white vote. Either bloc could be crucial to a candidate’s hopes for success. They had all been here over and over of late. Van Hilleary, the GOP candidate for governor, made a brief stopover Saturday night at the Republicans’ East Memphis “Victory 2000” headquarters with Sen. Bill Frist, and he asserted, “This is my fifth trip here in the last week, and I’m coming back Monday.” (Actually, he came only so near as Covington, where he did his best to rouse the distant suburban expatriates who in recent years have made south Tipton County a Republican bailiwick and whom state House Speaker made sure to cut loose from his district during the most recent reapportionment..)

    GOP Senate candidate Alexander had been much in evidence the previous weekend, doing a two- or three-day stopover and making much the same point as would Clement, that Shelby County has the votes that would make the difference in this election. He was back again Monday night for a last rally at the Holiday Inn on Central Avenue, appearing with outgoing Senator Fred Thompson and making sure his listeners among the local Republican faithful were aware that he had chosen Memphis as his final venue on purpose. As Clement -- who made his last visit here Monday at an airport rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen, prepared by Memphis’ other major Democratic force, the Ford family -- had done earlier, Alexander noted that Memphis had perhaps not received enough stroking from government, and promised to help remedy that.

    And so, of course, did Bredesen, who has been back-and-forth to the Bluff City enough times -- always praising its “vibrance,” even at the expense of Nashville, the city he led in recent years -- to claim honorary citizenship.

    The same could be said, even more firmly, for Marsha Blackburn, the GOP’s 7th District nominee and so confident of a victory over Democrat Tim Barron that she spent much of her time campaigning for local Republican nominees for other offices. Blackburn had, in fact, taken a residence on Highway 64 in Cordova for the duration. And then there was the one exponent of a major statewide campaign who lived here.. That was Steve Cohen, Memphis’ midtown state senator, who, though not a candidate himself this year, was virtually synonymous with the cause of the lottery referendum. He, too, was heard from locally in these last day. Flanked by Shelby County Democratic chairman Gale Jones Carson, who added her straightforward endorsement of the lottery referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, Cohen, father of that initiative and its nurturer for 16 long years, warned Monday at a press conference at his Midtown residence that lottery opponents were up to skullduggery as the vote neared.

    As a flashing sign in his front window behind him kept cycling from “EDUCATION LOTTERY” to “VOTE” and back again, Cohen charged that Gambling Free Tennessee, the group responsible for a well-funded campaign against the lottery this year, had been operating under the radar of the state’s election code through a shadow corporation known as GFT,Inc., which, he said, was obligated to file financial disclosures and had not done so. The organization, he said, could be a means of cloaking “illegal contributions or some they don’t want to divulge.” Casino interests he named as the most likely possibilities in the latter category, and he brandished a publication put out by Baptist opponents of the lottery which acknowledged that “gambling proponents” were also in opposition to it. Whether tongue in cheek or not, Cohen said, “It was through divine intervention that we learned of this today [Monday] and not tomorrow.”

    On Tuesday, as rains threatened to hold down voter turnout, Cohen was still on the case, gong from polling place to polling place and reporting, to his consternation, that Sycamore View Church of Christ, had a flashing sign, too, saying “VOTE NO ON LOTTERY” across the church’s marquee. “It’s digital. It works off a computer” a church secretary noted proudly, and in that sense the opposition had something of a lead on Cohen, whose own flashing sign at home had a homespun, neon look. All the same, Cohen’s neon sign was a throwback to a former time, one in which Memphis personalities, Memphis interests, and Memphis constituencies loomed large in state affairs, and a time, in fact, which may have returned.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2002

    SOUND WAVES

    SOUND WAVES

    Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2002 at 4:00 AM

    Thaddeus Matthews has never kept his opinions to himself. Since his radio rebirth this year, the talk-show host has unceasingly broadcast his disdain for the Shelby County Democratic Party, its effectiveness, and its leadership, thereby angering many of the city's political leaders. For the sound of Matthews in action, CLICK HERE

    Matthews' show Express Yourself on Flinn Broadcasting's WTCK AM-1210 is, in his opinion, all about informing the public, specifically African Americans, of their rights as voters and the need for candidate accountability. "One of my strongest statements on the air is that 'the black politician or leader who is not working for the betterment of African Americans is more dangerous to us than any white politician could ever be,'" said Matthews. "We have a dumbing-down from our politicians. We only see them when they want to be elected ... and that's the large majority of our leadership. They come, they beg for our vote and for our money, then, once elected, they forget about the people who placed them there."

    The daily program, which airs from noon to 2 p.m., has broached topics that Matthews says are not popular in the black community, such as allowing convicted criminals and recovering drug offenders to be reelected to public office. He cites the reelections of city councilman Rickey Peete after his conviction for taking bribes and county commissioner Michael Hooks after admitting to drug addiction. "I think that a lot of our black leadership has built their prominence on the backs of economically depressed people," said Matthews. "Most radio talk-show hosts, black anyway, will not say that, whether for fear of retaliation or whether they too are a part of the network."

    But not everyone is a fan of Matthews' "truth in politics" broadcasting. Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Gale Jones Carson called Matthews' tactics "pitiful." Although she has never heard of Matthews or his program, she said his accusations are baseless. "[Matthews] can think what he wants to, but he should just ask the 16 Democratic candidates who ran August 1st. Get their opinion on the Democratic Party and how effective we were," she said. "This man needs to talk to some of the candidates before he gets on the air making blanket statements that he can't back up. Who even listens to 1210? ... He probably won't be on long this time either. People have a right to their opinion, but they ought to be based on facts, and his are not based on facts."

    During her tenure as chairman, Carson said the party has raised more than $100,000 and run a coordinated campaign for 16 candidates. As a result, she said more African Americans voted in the August election than in any election in the previous five years. "Our candidates may not have won in the numbers that we would have liked them to, but they were closer than they have ever been before. Fifty-three percent of voters in August were Democrats," she said. "If all the Democrats who had voted had voted the straight party line, all of our countywide candidates would have won. We ran our coordinated campaign unlike we've ever done before."

    Matthews is no newcomer to the radio arena. A lifelong Memphian and assistant pastor of a Whitehaven-area church, he began his radio career in 1985. He became known for his "shock jock" manner and shows with no topic off-limits. A 1993 show on bestiality ended his run on another Memphis station until his return three years ago. That show was canceled due to political content. This time, Matthews is taking no chances. Express Yourself has a solid, one-year contract and is self-financed, with Matthews selling his own advertising. "I think there needs to be someone on the air that is an advocate," he says.

    Matthews has been joined by another self-proclaimed people's advocate, Jennings Bernard. Bernard, a long-time candidate for various Shelby County offices, is hosting his own program, following Matthews' slot. Bernard's Real Talk airs daily from 2 to 3 p.m. The program follows Bernard's infamous "Democratic Crackhead" phone line instituted after the August election. It contains a recorded message referring to various Shelby County politicians. The message tells callers that the Democratic Party will accept "crackheads," "thie[ves]," and "drug addicts" for the offices of city councilman, county commissioner, and county clerk. Callers are then asked to leave their "crackhead phone number."

    "I looked at some of our elected and selected officials, and I began to wonder about their principles and those by which I was taught. Did they mean anything?" said Bernard. "The only way that I could bring attention to the situation and the principles that I was taught was through the 'Democratic Crackhead' number, to allow the people to know who they are selecting. In an imperfect world, we need to see as much righteousness as possible so we can send a message to young people who will one day seek to be Shelby County leaders. When you say that you can betray the voters' confidence and they will still reelect you, that's sending the wrong message."

    Janis Fullilove, Bernard's county clerk opponent in the Democratic primary, considers the phone line offensive. "I was very offended because he makes reference to me as being a dope addict," she said. "I considered going to an attorney to bring slander [charges], but then I just dropped it. If he has any anger, it should be against the people who voted, not me." Fullilove, who is also the talk-show host of WDIA's Janis Fullilove Unleashed, denied alleged threats made against Bernard and also denied verbal retaliation of Matthews on her show, stating that her only target is fellow talk-show host Mike Fleming of WREC.

    She and Carson agree. "Statements like these do not hurt the Democratic Party. They just make the person appear small-minded because polls now show that negative campaigning is not liked by voters," said Fullilove. "I'm sure if you look in the background of a Thaddeus Matthews or a Jennings Bernard, they probably have things that they don't want other people to know about either. Like my grandmother always said, the pot can't call the kettle black."

    p>

    Matthews' show Express Yourself on Flinn Broadcasting's WTCK AM-1210 is, in his opinion, all about informing the public, specifically African Americans, of their rights as voters and the need for candidate accountability. "One of my strongest statements on the air is that 'the black politician or leader who is not working for the betterment of African Americans is more dangerous to us than any white politician could ever be,'" said Matthews. "We have a dumbing-down from our politicians. We only see them when they want to be elected ... and that's the large majority of our leadership. They come, they beg for our vote and for our money, then, once elected, they forget about the people who placed them there."

    The daily program, which airs from noon to 2 p.m., has broached topics that Matthews says are not popular in the black community, such as allowing convicted criminals and recovering drug offenders to be reelected to public office. He cites the reelections of city councilman Rickey Peete after his conviction for taking bribes and county commissioner Michael Hooks after admitting to drug addiction. "I think that a lot of our black leadership has built their prominence on the backs of economically depressed people," said Matthews. "Most radio talk-show hosts, black anyway, will not say that, whether for fear of retaliation or whether they too are a part of the network."

    But not everyone is a fan of Matthews' "truth in politics" broadcasting. Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Gale Jones Carson called Matthews' tactics "pitiful." Although she has never heard of Matthews or his program, she said his accusations are baseless. "[Matthews] can think what he wants to, but he should just ask the 16 Democratic candidates who ran August 1st. Get their opinion on the Democratic Party and how effective we were," she said. "This man needs to talk to some of the candidates before he gets on the air making blanket statements that he can't back up. Who even listens to 1210? ... He probably won't be on long this time either. People have a right to their opinion, but they ought to be based on facts, and his are not based on facts."

    During her tenure as chairman, Carson said the party has raised more than $100,000 and run a coordinated campaign for 16 candidates. As a result, she said more African Americans voted in the August election than in any election in the previous five years. "Our candidates may not have won in the numbers that we would have liked them to, but they were closer than they have ever been before. Fifty-three percent of voters in August were Democrats," she said. "If all the Democrats who had voted had voted the straight party line, all of our countywide candidates would have won. We ran our coordinated campaign unlike we've ever done before."

    Matthews is no newcomer to the radio arena. A lifelong Memphian and assistant pastor of a Whitehaven-area church, he began his radio career in 1985. He became known for his "shock jock" manner and shows with no topic off-limits. A 1993 show on bestiality ended his run on another Memphis station until his return three years ago. That show was canceled due to political content. This time, Matthews is taking no chances. Express Yourself has a solid, one-year contract and is self-financed, with Matthews selling his own advertising. "I think there needs to be someone on the air that is an advocate," he says.

    Matthews has been joined by another self-proclaimed people's advocate, Jennings Bernard. Bernard, a long-time candidate for various Shelby County offices, is hosting his own program, following Matthews' slot. Bernard's Real Talk airs daily from 2 to 3 p.m. The program follows Bernard's infamous "Democratic Crackhead" phone line instituted after the August election. It contains a recorded message referring to various Shelby County politicians. The message tells callers that the Democratic Party will accept "crackheads," "thie[ves]," and "drug addicts" for the offices of city councilman, county commissioner, and county clerk. Callers are then asked to leave their "crackhead phone number."

    "I looked at some of our elected and selected officials, and I began to wonder about their principles and those by which I was taught. Did they mean anything?" said Bernard. "The only way that I could bring attention to the situation and the principles that I was taught was through the 'Democratic Crackhead' number, to allow the people to know who they are selecting. In an imperfect world, we need to see as much righteousness as possible so we can send a message to young people who will one day seek to be Shelby County leaders. When you say that you can betray the voters' confidence and they will still reelect you, that's sending the wrong message."

    Janis Fullilove, Bernard's county clerk opponent in the Democratic primary, considers the phone line offensive. "I was very offended because he makes reference to me as being a dope addict," she said. "I considered going to an attorney to bring slander [charges], but then I just dropped it. If he has any anger, it should be against the people who voted, not me." Fullilove, who is also the talk-show host of WDIA's Janis Fullilove Unleashed, denied alleged threats made against Bernard and also denied verbal retaliation of Matthews on her show, stating that her only target is fellow talk-show host Mike Fleming of WREC.

    She and Carson agree. "Statements like these do not hurt the Democratic Party. They just make the person appear small-minded because polls now show that negative campaigning is not liked by voters," said Fullilove. "I'm sure if you look in the background of a Thaddeus Matthews or a Jennings Bernard, they probably have things that they don't want other people to know about either. Like my grandmother always said, the pot can't call the kettle black."

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