An endorsement by a sitting Democratic congressman of one candidate among many in a Democratic primary -- especially when that primary has for all practical purposes not really begun -- is unusual, and it reflects the obvious desire among some state Democrats that the party unite behind a single gubernatorial candidate as soon as possible.
Besides Bredesen, a former Nashville mayor and the party's 1994 standard-bearer, there are three other Democrats in the field. They are: Knoxville District Attorney Randy Nichols; former state Education Commissioner and ex-Board of Regents chancellor Charles Smith; and former state senator Andy Womack of Murfreesboro.
The Republican field for governor includes 4th District U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary and former state representative Jim Henry of Kingston.
Bobangos statement, dispatched via passalong email,is as follows:
Dear Fellow Republican,
"During the last several weeks, I have seriously considered running for County Mayor. My family and friends know I have a passion for public service and this community. However, I do not want my desire to serve the public to negatively impact those around me. After reviewing all the facts, I feel there would be an adverse impact, and therefore, I have chosen to not enter the race. My final decision was based on my responsibilities and obligations to my family, the law firm and its clients.
"I deeply appreciate all the prayers and encouragement I have received, especially over the last several days.
Bobangos dropout leaves the way open, among Republicans, for State Senator Mark Norris, who, as theFlyer first reported, is seriously considering a run.
Norris is fatalistic about the prospect that the legislatures majority Democrats will reapportion the Senate so that Shelby County, which is losing a seat, will have one majority-Republican district including both himself and long-term incumbent Curtis Person.
Person, a respected veteran who has not even had an opponent since 1966, is regarded as unbeatable.
Moreover, Norris, a former Shelby County commissioner, has genuine concerns about the countys future, especially on the fiscal front. Regarded as being on the right edge of his party economically, Norris has people skills that allow him to operate in the center. Even so, should he follow through and run, he may start from a position somewhat further back than Bobango or Gibbons would have.
As the week began, there were those who assumed that Bobango would hasten to announce his candidacy; as it progressed, talk at political gatherings focused on the fact that he was developing cold feet, especially as he considered the impact upon the race of Shelby County Public Defender A C Wharton, a recent Democratic entry who has good support from Republicans, too, and across racial lines. Partisans of another Democratic candidate, Bartlett banker Harold Byrd, maintain that he, too, has broad-based support.
As one Democrat put it Saturday, They [the Republicans] are scared. Theyre down to their fourth string now. As he spelled it out, incumbent Mayor Jim Rout, who has decided not to run, was the first string; Gibbons was the second; and Bobango was the third.