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Rochelle buzz audible in state government
Nov 17, 2004 12:00 am
The battles fought and lost by Democratic incumbents in the State Senate have political watchers across the state squarely focused on the 17th District Senate race, some two years away in 2006.
And Democrats in Nashville are mentioning a very familiar name: Bob Rochelle.
The mention of Rochelle's name is being met with mixed reactions among Democratic leaders in Tennessee, particularly those who are likely going to share a ballot with Rochelle in two years.
Should Rochelle decide to seek election to the Senate seat he held for nearly two decades and walked away from in 2002, it would pit him against sitting GOP Sen. Mae Beavers, matching the income tax king against the anti-income tax grand dame of Tennessee Politics.
Such a race would potentially brand Democrats statewide with the income tax tag, quite a potential irony considering Republican Gov. Don Sundquist championed the tax with Rochelle.
Rochelle, though, already has quite an edge should he decide to return to the Senate since he is sitting on some $200,000 in an embryonic war chest he never used for the 2002 campaign. At the turn of the year, Beavers had less than $10,000 in her campaign account.
One camp that is watching this potential match-up carefully and with some trepidation is the political shop of Gov. Phil Bredesen. Rochelle has been circulating quietly at county-level Democratic Party events in the midstate and making the rounds on the telephone to Democrats in Legislative Plaza to test the waters, according to party and legislative sources.
Certainly, Bredesen's folks are considering the implications of running in 2006 with the conservative talk radio crowd in full lather about an income tax revival after a Bredesen-led Democratic Party just lost control of the State Senate for the first time in over 100 years.
Mt. Juliet Dream Team
One of the most intriguing pairings in local politics may be the new mayor and vice mayor of Mt. Juliet.
New Mayor Linda Elam won in a landslide victory, despite having Democratic Party ties in an overwhelmingly conservative city.
Showing her apparent savvy, Elam's first task at the helm was to orchestrate the appointment of City Commissioner Ed Hagerty to the vice mayor post.
Hagerty is one of the most interesting politicians in the county in that he is painfully consistent in his fiscal conservative beliefs.
Former mayor Kevin Mack felt that pain first hand as Hagerty snatched away most of Mack's true conservative base in Mt. Juliet after Mack began aiding the growth of the Mt. Juliet city government budget and senior staff payroll.
The one-two pairing in Mt. Juliet puts the moderate Elam next to easily the most conservative public servant in an elected local government post.
There has been a great deal of speculation that with Hagert's conservative credibility and status as a successful businessman he might seek higher office. He certainly has the credibility, and he may be a key component to a successful Elam reign by lending her efforts some right wing juju.