Tennessee politics may get very interesting this fall if Tipper throws her chapeau in the ring for Senate. Seems there will be a bonafide primary race between Republicans Lamar! Alexander and Ed Bryant. And Tipper would do the Tennessee waltz into the Democratic Party nomination.
My amateur pundit analysis: Lamar! gets the Republican slot due to superior name recognition, funding and organizational skills. Pundits will suggest that Bryant can pull off a Bill Simon-style victory in which the right-wing of the party faithful is galvanized against the more centrist Alexander and Democrats are encouraged to vote in the Republican primary for Bryant (thinking he’ll be the easier candidate for T-Gore to defeat in the fall).
Current Republican Gov. Sundquist has already endorsed Lamar!, which could really hurt Lamar! among Republicans of all strips. His embrace of an income tax (after running against twice) has made him a republican non-grata. Run away from him, Lamar! But in the end, I think Lamar! will win the primary.
Tipper is the Republican’s worst nightmare. She is ambiguous enough for liberals and moderates to both embrace. And despite the efforts that will surely be attempted to prove otherwise, I think she is perceived as being outside the sphere of Clinton sliminess. However, I am sure there are Republican operatives hard a work this morning searching for photographs of T-Gore and Hillary holding hands and embarrassing revelations of how she really was the mastermind behind the Clinton White House.
I think she can overcome these. She’s likable and has been perceived positively by Tennesseans for decades.
It will be a tight race if Tipper runs. And while I would give Al Gore little chance of winning in November, Tipper just might be able to do it. She’ll at least make it an interesting race.
Addendum.2: Tipper cuts a trip short to test the Tennessee waters.