Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looks like I missed an interesting Kennedy Day...

As Jackson Baker noted, there was a good showing for the 2014 Kennedy Day dinner, put on by the SCDP at Bridges on Saturday night, I hate that I missed it.

After a good speech by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a panel involving several women with great history within the party was held, including Judge Camille McMullen, former Public Service Commissioner Sara Kyle, former Senator Beverly Marrero, former NAACP head and current Representative Johnnie Turner, and longtime former school board member Sara Lewis.

However, it was a woman not on the panel who made the loudest comments.  Former State Representative and City Councilor Carol Chumney (full disclosure for those newer readers: she has been a friend for over 20 years and I co-managed her County Mayor campaign in 2002) said that in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, there was a "Republi-Democratic" party filled with Democrats who support Republicans.  She then called out Congressman Steve Cohen for not supporting her during her unsuccessful race for Attorney General in 2012.


Should the Congressman have supported her?  It wouldn't have hurt, but let's be serious here, it wouldn't have helped that much, either.  Her campaign started too late, didn't raise enough money, and I'm not sure that if he had supported her as he supported Assessor Cheyenne Johnson and now-General Sessions Court Clerk Ed Stanton, that she would have won.  One other thing that I have to note:  It never seemed to me that she went after Amy Weirich with the same vigor as she had AC Wharton (twice, in 2002 and 2009) and Dr. Herenton (2007).  I don't get that, either, because Weirich had and still has vulnerabilities with regard to the operation of her office.  Carol never brought those up and I just don't get that.

Carol just is no longer the strong candidate she was during her legislative days.  I hate that, as her days in the state House were terrific for her constituents and the City in general.  It just takes a hell of a lot of time and money to win city or countywide, and you have to start a year in advance.  THAT is how you get Democrats not to support Republicans, by making sure you are in early and by doing pre-emptive strikes on Democratic donors.

 My own rant: Why does no Democrat want to take on and attack Attorney General Amy Weirich, who refuses to discipline her lead prosecutor, Tom Henderson, who was censured by the state last week?  She will be in FOR EIGHT YEARS if we don't beat her this year, and that's not good for anyone.  If you believe it doesn't matter who the AG is, you are deluding yourself, it's arguably the most important office in the county.  Rant over.

For you old timers, remember when, during the 70s and 80s, Mark Flanagan would run against Harold Ford, Sr, in the 9th District primary just so people whom Senior had pissed off for whatever reason could vote against him?  Of course, they would return to the fold for November, because none of them would be caught dead voting GOP.

This is what Ricky Wilkins' candidacy represents to me, the latest in a longline of Flanaganesque campaigns that result in a massive landslide for the incumbent.  This is because our Congressman takes EVERY candidate who runs against him seriously, even Charlotte Bergmann.  It's the same group of people who have been pissed off for years, who pretend as though they have the pulse of the city, only to see their candidate lose like the 1962 New York Mets.

One of the problems that they have with him is that he won't be the boss.  The city's Democrats have been used to a machine at several points in the last century, most notably EH Crump from the Oughts to the late 40s, and the organization of Harold Ford Senior in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.  It's true that Harold Senior had a crack team of people throughout the city, many of them veterans of the civil rights movement to whom organization was second nature.

However, when Senior gave up his seat to Junior in 1996, Junior didn't do that much to maintain that organization, which was being decimated by age and death.  What remained of it through his ill-fated 2006 Senate campaign was maintained by family friends and friendly local legislators, who were also starting to be decimated as well, by age and the Tennessee Waltz scandal.   However, that came to an end.

Congressman Cohen won his first primary in 2006 with a combination of white Midtown liberals, some of the civil-rights veterans remaining along with African-Americans he had served during his 24 years in the State Senate.  He has retained the seat with an epic work ethic and solid constituent service despite campaigns from African-Americans who have implied that he can't truly represent their community.  Of course, as you know, each election, 70-75 percent of the African-American electorate show their disagreement with those campaigns by renominating and then re-electing the Congressman.  So, the Flanaganesque campaigns will continue, and as always, ending in a rout of the challenger.  It would be nice if he had a break, but since Senior never got one, I doubt Steve will, either.

Steve has his organization, to be sure, but it doesn't seem like anyone other than AC Wharton (and his is nonpartisan, not really Democratic in nature) has bothered to build an infrastructure for phone-banking and canvassing.  Van Turner started, and Bryan Carson is trying his damnedest to raise enough money for the August and November elections, hence the two big fundraisers of note.

I think there are those that believe Steve needs to be like Senior and carry the County Party on his back, but I don't think that's really possible any more, because it's not 1992 any more. As  I noted earlier, many of the old hands of the Ford campaigns are gone, and many middle-class African Americans have left the city for Desoto and other counties; go look at the census numbers if you don't believe me.  THAT, as much as anything, is why the old and fallacious belief, that all you need to do is turn now the African-American vote and you are a sure winner, has been an abject failure.  How's that worked so far?

So, what do we do now?  Give me a day to think about it, and I will have more for you, I gotta go to bed.

Stay tuned!

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