Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The end of an era
The year I moved with my parents to Memphis, 1972 (moved here on the day of the Watergate break-in, I did), a young man with a prominent name began his political career.
His name was Bob Clement, and my late mother, who had fond memories of his father, former governor Frank G. Clement, was excited about his candidacy for the Public Service Commission, which he would win. Thus started the idea that he would lead this state as his father had.
While I did put up signs for the late Senator Jim White (D-30) in 1976, my political work essentially began at a Clement for Governor rally in 1978, where I would meet my friends Joyce Akehurst (Quintrell) and her brother Tom. Also, at that rally, after complaining that we needed to oust the Republican state representative in Whitehaven, a fellow by the name of Dwayne Thompson tapped me on the shoulder and advised that he was running, and, two days later, I was knocking on doors in my precinct. Although Dwayne lost the primary, he would introduce me to other like-minded souls, like my Godfather. As such, Bob Clement provided a watershed moment for me politically.
I would support Clement through his primary loss to Jake Butcher (I STILL think Bob would have beaten Lamar Alexander that year, and maybe stopped him for good), and get on board in 1982 when he announced for the 7th District seat being vacated by Robin Beard. However, when his campaign manager decided to file suit to force a special election to fill the vacated Memphis Mayor's chair, it inadvertently jacked up the turnout in East Memphis (most of the area east of Mendenhall was in the 7th then) and it wound up costing him the election against Don Sundquist. I also believe had Bob won, he would have ended Sundquist's career then and there, and we wouldn't have had to put up with HIM, either.
After that loss, Bob would go on to become President of Cumberland College, and helped revitalize it. However, when Bill Boner gave up his 5th District seat in 1988 to run for and become Mayor of Nashville, Clement ran to succeed him, and won. He was unchallenged until he ran against Lamar Alexander for the US Senate in 2002, and was beaten by LAMAR! rather handily, at which time it was revealed that Mayor Herenton and some of his supporters backed his old friend Alexander. I have still not forgiven Herenton for that, and I doubt I ever will, but I digress.
Tonight, what was left of the now-62-year-old Clement's career came to an end, as he was defeated by former Metro legal director Karl Dean in the race for Mayor of Nashville. For me, what's even sadder is that, had I lived and voted in Nashville, I probably would not have voted for Bob Clement; he seemed like nothing more than a relic of the past.
Given that his career showed so much unfulfilled promise, it just seems like a damn shame that it ends tonight with little more to show for it than a safe, quiet Congressional career and only one statewide victory, 35 years ago.
What could have been..................