“I know what it means to work for a living.” With those words, Senator Rosalind Kurita attempted to draw the biggest distinction between herself and her Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Representative Harold Ford. The son of the man who preceded him into office, Ford has long been the butt of a joke that says that he was given his congressional seat as a graduation gift from law school when he was a barely eligible, 26 years old. Sen. Kurita, on the other hand has been a wife, a mother, a nurse, a county commissioner, and now a state senator representing Cheatham, Houston, and Montgomery Counties.
Senator Kurita intends apparently intends to run on her record as opposed to her name. It’s a good thing, as polling indicates that she has very little name recognition. However, in a state-wide race against a Memphis Ford, low name recognition isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Not coincidentally, Ms. Kurita also tried to put some ethical distance between herself and Representative Ford. She came prepared with a bloggers-only press release that highlighted her position on ethics in the early days of this primary race. Coming fresh on the heels of the outcry about State House Minority Leader Tré Hargett’s resignation to take a lobbying job, Ms. Kurita took on the state’s lobbying industry, though never mentioning Hargett by name. At the state level, where she still holds office, Sen. Kurita said that former legislators should be “barred from lobbying”–not for a year, but forever. Having served in the state house, she said, “changes the relationship one has with the legislature. She added that lobbyists should publicly disclose their income.
Senator Kurita also advocated that all legislative proceedings should be televised, and that all committee and floor votes should be recorded, and with the results accessible to the people.
She reminded the group that she was one of those who, three years ago, sponsored successful legislation requiring campaign disclosure on the internet.
Commenting on an ongoing national issue, Ms. Kurita said that it “seems reasonable” that there would be an “up or down vote” on the floor of the U.S. Senate for the President’s judicial nominees.
Rsponding to Representative Ford’s characterization of American soldiers serving in the Middle East as “oil cops,” Senator Kurita took great offense, saying that the nation’s soldiers “deserve a better term.” She spoke admiringly of “her soldiers,” as she repeatedly called the men and women of Fort Campbell which half resides in her district. She was at her most animated when she recounted the story of how she (quite literally) jumped at Lt. Gen. David Petraeus’ invitation to parachute with the Army’s Golden Knights.
On energy issues, Sen. Kurita denounced the recently passed energy bill. She does not support drilling in ANWR, adding that “if we change the speed limit we could save more” than we would obtain from the Arctic Wildlife Reguge. However, when pressed on the issue, she added that she didn’t advocate changing the national speed limit.
On one major issue, however, Senator Kurita did not attempt to put much distance between herself and her opposition—both primary and general. That issue was the war in Iraq. “When we went to war, I would have supported the effort,” she declared, adding that the nation went to war under a certain set of beliefs that have since changed, and that “colors our perception.” Asked how the nation extricates itself from that war, she stated that “the way to get out of Iraq is through energy independence,” mentioning a long list of alternative fuels, but conspicuously leaving out nuclear energy.
As she departed the restaurant where she gathered for lunch with eight Nashville bloggers, Senator Kurita again reiterated what looks to be her challenge to her primary opponent, as well as her mantra: “I can do a day’s work.”