It’s just a minor detail, I suppose, but I couldn’t get out of any activists was which races would be targeted, or who would be running for any of them. I was told that some announcements would be coming later in the year. But here is what I did capture from the 2013 Kefauver Dinner in Chattanooga.
Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden announced last week that he is not running for re-election. Herron, a longtime state legislator who started a 2010 run for governor and then switched to the 8th Congressional District race, which he lost to U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, also said that he will not seek a rematch against Fincher.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has repeatedly announced that this district is one that they are “targeting,” although their more recent focus seems to be the Fourth. One reason might be the lack of a candidate in West Tennessee. The DCCC has apparently had its eye on Sen. Lowe Finney as another possibility, but Finney has so far indicated that he will not be answering the recruiting call. He chairs the upper legislative chamber’s Democratic caucus, which may play into his reluctance to run for Congress.
No other prominent Democrats are known to be looking at this race.
But lest Fincher feel too safe, he should note that he, like his fellow freshmen to the east, is statistically at his most vulnerable for a primary challenge this term. (Aside: will U.S. Rep. Diane Black also face a challenger? She may, but she’s probably not in any danger of losing her seat.)
One elected official wanting to see about changing offices is Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad. By the way, U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad is retiring, and thus makes room for a similarly named Capitol Hill denizen—although the mailroom clerks may have a tough year or two regardless.
Jackson Baker also gives us some other names to ponder:
Others whose names have figured in speculation include former 8th District candidate and ex-Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn; former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff, who ran for Congress in the7th District in 2002; state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris; and state Senator Brian Kelsey.
Fincher has detractors on his left and on his right, although it’s not clear that he’s regularly seen as a centrist. Will he be able to hang on to the big middle from his right-of-center perch? At this early point in the race, all signs point to “Yes.”
The Jackson Sun asked a few people for some details about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s choice to target Tennessee’s 8th District as a possible pick-up (or take-back, given that they only last year lost the seat).
Sen. Roy Herron (D-Dresden), who dropped out of the 2010 gubernatorial race upon former U.S. Rep. John Tanner’s retirement, won the congressional primary, but lost to U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher in the general election, confirmed verbally that he “plans to run” again in 2012, according to the report.
Another name that has been listed as a possibility is Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson), who chairs his party’s Senate caucus. As Dan Turnbow indicated on Twitter, the 27th District will likely look more favorable to Republicans after redistricting.
Independent candidate James Hart is so far the only challenger to formally declare against Fincher.
Many across the state today are mourning former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter, who passed away at the age of 80. The current governor, Bill Haslam, issued this statement:
This is a sad day for Tennessee. Governor McWherter was a true statesman who cared about this state and its citizens. He had a long and distinguished career in the legislative and executive branches as well as in business. I will always be grateful for his personal kindness to me and the wise advice he gave me during my first months in office. Crissy’s and my thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and the entire McWherter family during this difficult time.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey released the following:
Few men have meant as much to as many Tennesseans as Gov. Ned Ray McWherter. This state has lost a true statesman and a true original. My heart and the hearts of all Tennesseans go out to the McWherter family today.
Here’s a partial statement from Sen. Roy Herron, who is regarded by some as McWherter’s political heir. (Herron was first elected to the Legislature in the House seat held by McWherter before the latter became governor.)
Governor McWherter was our greatest governor during my lifetime, and I believe he was our greatest governor during Tennessee’s lifetime.
Governor McWherter led Tennessee to set records in the economy, job growth, education, building roads, criminal justice, healthcare, lowering taxes and debt.
While I certainly remember McWherter being in office during my first years in Tennessee, I was not a student of state government at the time. It’s too bad, because I likely could have learned a lot about the state’s politics from studying this apparent master.
Much more recently I met Mike McWherter, and the admiration he holds for his father was immediately recognizable.
My thoughts are with the McWherter family and with all Tennesseans as we celebrate the life of the departed.
More remembrances can be found at WBIR’s website.