Speculation in Tennessee centers today around the possibility that Gov. Phil Predesen will be appointed to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. More than a few Volunteer State Democrats are apoplectic at that thought because they fear the prospect of Republican Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey taking the governor’s office.
But would Bredesen actually be doing the state’s Democrats a favor by handing the office to a Republican?
Consider today’s news:
State government took in $114.3 million less than projected during January, pushing the state’s revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year past the $522 million mark.
This is only the sixth month of the state’s fiscal year, and the prospects for improvement look bleak. Would Gov. Brededesen love to saddle his Republican successor with this problem?
Consider also that the new Republican governor would have deal with new Republican Speaker of the House Kent Williams, who just yesterday, Ramsey said should leave the GOP or get kicked out. The blood between them has been bad and it isn’t getting better. The discord is probably the best insurance that the GOP would not be able to run roughshod, especially since if Williams does bolt, that leaves the House in a 48-48-1 deadlock. Would Gov. Bredesen love to saddle his Republican successor with this problem?
Consider also that there are three declared strong Republican candidates for the 2010 governor’s race and no major Democrats in the race. This is the state that in both 2006 and 2008 saw Republican gains in the state legislature. Democrats in Tennessee have the weakest bench in decades, if not forever. An incumbent Gov. Ramsey freezes the Republican field in place (including the one candidate who just raised $1.4 million last week), while his incumbency–particular in a period of economic downturn–gives Democrats somebody to rally against. Would Gov. Bredesen love to saddle his Republican successor with this problem?
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that the best opportunity for a Democratic victory in the Tennessee Governor’s race in 2010, is if a Republican is the incumbent.