Thursday, August 11, 2005

SURPRISES & ODDITIES

Harris resigns, Brooks challenges, Nikki Who? Two-Feathers Who?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2005 at 4:00 AM

It was a day of surprises – sort of. Certainly Terry Harris’ abrupt resignation Thursday as U.S. Attorney for Tennessee’s Western District qualifies as that, though word of the Tennessee Waltz prosecutor's sea-change – involving acceptance of a vice-presidency at FedEx -- had begun to percolate into crevices of the news media early in the day.

By comparison, Henri Brooks’ decision to contest her 20-vote loss in a state Senate primary to Ophelia Ford was something of a no-brainer; anybody that close should roll the dice, and there were a couple of possible polling-place irregularities to mount a protest on.

It was a week of oddities, sort of: What else can you say about a circumstance that had local Democrats scratching their heads in confusion? Said circumstance was a puff piece in The Hill, a Washington, D.C. publication for political insiders. The puffee was one Nikki Tinker, touted by Hill author Jonathan A. Kaplan as the “front-runner” in the race to succeed 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr., now a U.S. Senate candidate. Only problem: nobody in these parts could figure out at first who “front-runner” Tinker, billed as a “corporate lawyer,” was.

After a spell, it came to some – not all – of the puzzled ones: Tinker was the tall, slim, very pleasant young woman who had been the titular head of Rep. Ford’s last reelection campaign. Maybe she can develop into a true contender, maybe not, but this trickle-down launch came off as so much spin.

One more oddity: gubernatorial candidate Carl “Two Feathers” Whitaker, formerly an independent, has come forth as a fully-fledged Republican, with ambitions of taking on Democratic incumbent Phil Bredesen next year. Whitaker, a pillar of the right-wing “Minuteman” movement, is not exactly what mainstream Republicans, who still have good hopes of getting Nashville state Rep. Beth Harwell into the governor’s race, had in mind.

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