Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Ballot

I will be voting in the Tennessee General Election sometime before November 8th. I’ll give you the rundown of my choices and why, as usual, I’ll be following my centrist tendencies and splitting my ticket.

Governor, State of Tennessee

My vote – Gov. Phil Bredesen (D)

Here’s one truism: I never like to vote for a loser. The governor, following eight successful years as Nashville mayor has had four more successful years as Tennessee’s governor. What I like about Bredesen is that I judge him to be a businessman first and politician second, which means he’s more conservative than most Democrats with regard to fiscal policy and his leadership has (at least) coincided with an economic boom for Tennessee and middle Tennessee specifically. I do not owe this so much to his policies but more to his enthusiastic promotion of state and city for as long as I have been in Tennessee. His opponent Jim Bryson might not be a bad governor, but Bredesen has been demonstrably good and, you know, “don’t mess”.

United States Senator, State of Tennessee

My vote – Bob Corker (R)

This contest is not only big locally, but nationally as well. Both Mr. Corker and his opponent, Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis, are well-funded and have marshaled plenty of those resources to make this a very compelling, if often mean-spirited, race. The truth of the matter is that both candidates are fairly middle-of-the-road. As many media outlets have reported, Ford is much more conservative than most of his party – a fact that actually makes him electable in Tennessee. Corker is the mirror-image Republican – more fiscally conservative than socially, a favorite of business, and a Republican that ultra-right-wingers don’t altogether like that much. Throw him in a group with John McCain and 8-10 other Republican senators who know how to use the word “compromise” in a sentence.

So, with regards to how they’ll represent Tennessee in the Senate, Corker and Ford are pretty much the same in my mind. More important, however, is that the race will likely determine which party retains control over the Senate. My informed suspicion is that the House will go to the Democrats (alas), and I tend to like my legislatures split. For a bill to pass both, there’ll have to be considerable compromise which means that neither side will be either to screw up anything too much. With Democrats in control of just one chamber, I’d be more optimistic about finding compromise positions on issues that are genuinely important to me like Social Security and Medicare reform. If they get both, I’m afraid that they’ll use that position to go hard line on several issues and bide their time until 2008, at which point I’d be afraid to have several Democratic leaders in a position of power.

United States House of Representives, Tennessee 5th District

My vote – Jim Cooper (D)

Because of gerrymandering and the nature of Davidson County politics, it is impossible for a Republican to win elected office in the area at any level above city council. Therefore, we rarely get a compelling House race. Cooper will likely win with 75% of the vote. But I don't feel so bad; Cooper is a fiscal conservative 100% and tosses in a little social conservatism in there to boot. Nature of the beast, but I would really love the gerrymandering of House districts to disappear in the future.

Referendum No. 1 - Definition of Marriage Amendment

My vote - forthcoming


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