If the Democratic race for Governor in 2010 can be compared to "10 Little Indians," the party already seems to be running short of potential top-level candidates.
The latest to fall by the wayside is former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, who decided to go back to Boston and Harvard University to become the new director of its prestigious Kennedy School of Government. Purcell went up North to teach a class on government at the school immediately after leaving office last fall. He must have like it a lot (and Harvard officials must have been very impressed with him) because Purcell is now leaving a Dean's position at Tennessee State University just a few months after assuming those duties.
Clearly with former Mayor Purcell at Harvard, you can remove his name from the list of potential candidates for Governor. The question is will he ever return to the state and city where he had so much political success as a state representative, House Majority Leader and a two-term mayor?
This now leaves Democrats only a handful of potential gubernatorial candidates reportedly looking at the race. Former Congressman and Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. is one, although his eyes always seem more on Washington, especially during this presidential election year and especially if the Democrats retake the White House.
The others looking at the race are current Congressman Lincoln Davis, who has struggled in recent weeks communicating his support of the party's nominee, Barack Obama, and who, so far, does not seem to excite many party leaders as their standard-bearer to replace Phil Bredesen in two year. The only other candidate actively pursuing a possible race is former State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan. She could be a very intriguing choice for Democrats trying to elect the first woman to be Tennessee's governor. But while in the General Assembly, she once voted for a state income tax, which could create a major issue for her with some parts of the electorate.
So what does Democratic Party Chair Gray Sasser do? The party can't afford to fool around (as happened in this year's U.S. Senate race) and not have a strong candidate or candidates in the race early enough to hold this important post. So does he look toward current Congressmen John Tanner or Bart Gordon? Both have been Washington for several years and have been encouraged to run statewide in the past, but declined. Now with the Democrats back in power, they may be even more reluctant to leave their current posts and seniority.
But who else do the Democrats have to turn to and, with former Senator Bill Frist's millions already freezing out the rest of the potential GOP field, how much longer do Democrats have to figure things out, even if the election is over two years away?
NewsChannel 5 thanks Pat Nolan for providing this column every week. Mr. Nolan's commentary reflects his own opinions, not those of the NewsChannel 5 Network. Comments about Capitol View should be sent to Pat Nolan directly via email at email@example.com .