Now that I’ve seen all the candidates vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bill Frist, I can say that the most impressive candidates from each of the parties have two things in common: they’re both trailing their primary field, and they’re both female.
Senator Rosalind Kurita might have been aided by my low expectations of her going in to our luncheon meeting. Anyone who heard her disastrous first appearance with Teddy Bart couldn’t have anything but a low expectation of Clarksville’s state senator. However, more like George W. Bush, than Ann Richards, the grey-haired Democratic former Governor of Texas whom she slightly resembles, and who was ousted by the current President in 1994, Senator Kurita may have learned to cultivate low expectations to her advantage.
In many ways it’s surprising that there are only two choices in the upcoming Democratic primary: Ford, and Not Ford. Given all the scandals that have long erupted around that family, you’d think there would be more “Chevys” in the Democratic race. Perhaps they’re afraid of how Tennessee’s increasingly Republican bent has made it more difficult for a Democrat to win statewide office. Perhaps, they’re afraid to take on the well-known and charming Congressman. Perhaps they’re afraid of being a target of a Memphis family long rumored to play rough with political opponents. Whatever the reason, Senator Rosalind Kurita currently benefits from being the only “Not Ford” on the Democratic ballot.
She’s not coasting on that distinction either. While, of course, Kurita highlighted ethics—every Ford’s weakness—during a Monday luncheon with eight Nashville area bloggers, she also took positions on several controversial subjects.
Sure to upset many on the left, Kurita voiced her support for the President’s decision to go to war, saying that, at the time, she would have made the same decision herself. Just as upsetting to those on the other side of the aisle, the Clarksville state senator denounced the decision to drill for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, adding that lowering the speed limit would offer more potential fuel savings.
Unecumbered by an expectation of easy victory, Senator Kurita has decided to embark on a political path of her own making. While I certainly don’t agree with many of her positions, she’s apparently arrived at her decisions honestly, and speaks about them frankly. Kind of like the refreshing candor of a Howard Dean, without any of the screaming . . . or, imagine a Ross Perot without big ears and conspiracy theories.
I’ve said this before of Beth Harwell, and I’ll say it also of Rosalind Kurita: If she gets the opportunity to speak in front of Tennessee’s voters, they’ll come away impressed by her. That’s not true of some of the other candidates in this race. In fact, there are one or two who will lose votes whenever they open their mouths. Not Kurita.
Ms. Kurita doesn’t have much money and she doesn’t have much name recognition. But being the only “Not Ford” gives her an instant 30 point floor. It won’t take much more than that to make her a real threat to Harold Ford, Jr.’s plans to be Tennessee’s next U. S. Senator.
Rosalind Kurita won’t get my vote, but she’s earned my respect. And sometimes, that’s the harder task.
(edited for clarity)