Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Underdog Rabidoux Stokes the Democratic Base in Challenge to Blackburn

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Rabidoux and fans in Germantown
  • JB
  • Rabidoux and fans in Germantown

His slogan (well, one of them, anyhow) is “Vote Greg, not Marsha, Marsha, Marsha,” and he insists that that he’s got a chance to be elected on the basis of what he sees as “an anti-incumbent fever,” along with what he hopes is revulsion in the 7th congressional district against the positions of the well-entrenched incumbent.

That’s Greg Rabidoux, a professor of politics and law at Clarksville’s Austin Peay University and the latest Democrat to hazard the forbidding task of challenging U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn.
Rabidoux basically spent the weekend in Shelby County, making the rounds of actual and potential supporters and turning up on Saturday at Sidney Chism’s annual picnic on Horn Lake Road.

Speaking to a group of hard-core Democrats on Friday night at the Germantown home of Adrienne Pakis-Gillon, Rabidoux tried to inspire his listeners with examples ranging from Barack Obama (“He started with just a small core of believers”) to last week’s marathon, record-setting Wimbledon match that took parts of three days to complete (“There’s a first time for everything”).

Allegiance to special interests and indifference to Social Security, Medicare, and other staples of contemporary American life are some of the derelictions Rabidoux charges his Republican opponent with.

However long on enthusiasm, Rabidoux is admittedly short on resources, making it prohibitive just now to get mass-media circulation for a crisply edited video spot linking Blackburn to alleged Big Oil sponsors that’s playing right now on the Internet.

But, like underdog challengers before him, Rabidoux is making virtue of necessity. Not for him the “thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraisers or the $2500 ‘spa day’ at a fancy Washington hotel” that he attributes to Blackburn, an assistant GOP whip in the House of Representatives and a fixture on the TV talk circuit.

“She’s more celebrity than public servant,” argues Rabidoux, the author of a highly readable and comprehensive study, published just last year, entitled Hollywood Politicos, Then and Now.

“There’s a disconnect there that they feel now more than ever before,” Rabidoux says regarding the constituents of the sprawling 15-county 7th congressional district, which stretches, literally, from the suburbs of Memphis to those of Nashville.

Whether that’s wishful thinking or not remains to be seen.

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