Monday, May 12, 2008

The Battle of 'Bills'

The potential Tennessee gubernatorial race of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist versus former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell would finally determine how far the state has politically swayed to the right or whether some kind balance still exists.

Frist will run for governor because he still has presidential aspirations and his last years as majority leader were less than legacy-building.

Purcell will run because someone will be needed to repair the state Democratic Party after Gov. Phil Bredesen destroys what's left of its core values with his upcoming budget cuts. The fact that GOP legislators are more in favor of his proposed budget than Dem legislators shows how deep the destruction will go.

Purcell is used to cleaning up Bredesen's messes and excesses. He had to repair Nashville after Bredesen's tenure as mayor. His big deals with millionaires -- including one topped by the falsehood that the arena would be making a profit -- left the city in tough financial straits when it came to meeting the needs of ordinary people and their neighborhoods. Nashville now must first commit more than $20 million annually to pro sports and its facilities before getting to the rest of the city's needs.

Someone will have to return Tennessee government to the ordinary people after Bredesen finishes with his budget cutting. His tired contention that the state should be run as a business does not induce confidence. Let's talk about some of those businesses that government could be run as -- like Enron or Countrywide Mortgage or Tyco or any other host of corporations that have ensured the few at the top are richly taken care of at the expense of the many.

A Bill versus Bill governor's race may well be what a state -- dispirited by budget cuts too deep and unnecessary -- needs to map its future.

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