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Prediction: Dem. Gov. Phil Bredesen in ’08

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I’ve been sitting on this one for a few days. A few months actually. Look for TN Gov. Phil Bredesen to make a run for the Democratic nomination for president in ’08. He’s a fiscal conservative and frankly, a better budget trimmer than his predecessor Gov. Don Sundquist, a so-called Republican. He’s also closed a loop hole that allowed illegal aliens — ahem, potential terrorists — to get TN drivers licenses.

He’s slashing TennCare, a taxpayer-sucking medical benefits debacle that began under Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter’s administration. Hillary Clinton was in close contact with McWherter as she drafted her plan to nationalize healthcare when her husband was in the White House. Thankfully, the idea flopped, and the U.S. isn’t in the fiscal shape TN was in when Bredesen took over.

Bredesen is a red-state Democrat who knows how to win over voters from both parties. Bush may have swept the South in ’04 but the GOP needs to realize that no-nonsense fiscal conservatives like Bredesen may indeed inspire a party-switch among Republicans unhappy with Bush’s domestic agenda and approach to securing the Homeland against terrorism. If Hillary’s smart, she’ll use Bredesen as an ally. If Republicans are smart, they’ll ditch the moderate agenda and begin acting like the conservatives their voters want them to be.

This post first appeared on Reporterette.com

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  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Thanks for this post. I’ve not heard much about Bredesen until now. I think you touch on an argument that Dean made very successfully (underneath the radar of The Scream hoopla, of course, Dean is an articulate and intelligent speaker): that the Dems are the party of fiscal responsibility.

    I also think you make a strong argument for a red-state Dem Gov to make noise leading up to ’08. I’ve actually had my eye on Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia for some time now: he’s young, bright, articulate, and a smooth operator in the bright red hinterland of his state.

    It could make for a fascinating ’08 primary season: Dean, HR Clinton, Edwards, and several Southern govs fighting it out. And from the GOP: Giuliani, McCain, Hagel, Hastert, McConnell… and Gingrich?

    This centrist Dem in rainy SoCal can’t wait for a good three years or so to slip by to start the show…

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • http://halfbakered.blogspot.com mike hollihan

    It’s not for sure that Bredesen has the fire in the belly for a Presidential run. His speaking style is notably short on rah-rah, too. Kerry without the suave.

    His vaunted “fiscal conservatism” is a mixed bag. Yes, he did manage to get the State legislature and his offices to accept a reduction in spending in his first year. But he also took back a lot of State money from the cities of Tennessee, which led to some pretty drastic budget shortages. And now that the state is running a huge budget surplus, he’s not restarted the State sharing, preferring to keep the money.

    That surplus came as a result of a one penny increase in the State sales tax. With local options, like in Memphis, you have a sales tax rate of 9.75%! It was intended to address a one billion dollar shortfall in the State budget. The first year of that increase saw a budget surplus of around $300 million, thanks to a recovering economy. This year, the surplus came to over $600 million. That’s on top of already inflated budget numbers. The sales tax rate will not be lowered, as far as anyone can tell. Discussion of the extra money has disappeared from the news.

    Bredesen has said that he’s waiting for extra money so he can restart some of the social spending that legislators so love, especially in education. It’s also interesting to note that he did not choose to eliminate TennCare, which he had threatened, but rolled back part of the coverage and benefits. There is speculation that he is waiting for stable revenue increases so he can gradually re-increase coverage and benefits and win public acclaim.

    Go to Bill Hobb’s blog and read more. He’s been following this very closely.

  • http://www.wallybangs.blogspot.com wally bangs

    Bredesen is a very wealthy guy who can’t even get his teeth fixed. I know I’m petty, but crooked teeth and his business wonk personality would not play across the country. I don’t think Bredesen would have been able to win the governorship here in Tennessee if Republican Sundquist hadn’t made such a mess of the office. Swing voters who had went the GOP way in the past weren’t about to risk their vote on Van Hilleary. Plus Bredesen was smart enough to run as a fiscal conservative in a state where a personal income tax is constantly trying to be shoved down our throats. It’ll be interesting to see if Bredesen pulls a Sundquist and starts supporting a state income tax after he’s probably elected for a second term – the same stunt that Sundquist pulled.

  • http://www.templestark.com/blog Temple Stark

    I’d ask you a question, but you wouldn’t answer it. See your previous posts.

  • http://halfbakered.blogspot.com mike hollihan

    wally wrote: “It’ll be interesting to see if Bredesen pulls a Sundquist and starts supporting a state income tax after he’s probably elected for a second term – the same stunt that Sundquist pulled.”

    It’s the same trick *every* governor who has proposed an income tax has used — even Democratic hero Ned McWherter (sp?). They all wait for the safety of re-election before succumbing to lobbyists and government types. Bredesen will have a hard time in his second term because the State is running revenue/budget surpluses. “Fairness” alone isn’t enough to get an income tax passed. Bredesen seems to recognise this. Look at his reaction to the Tax Reform commission report.

  • Eric Olsen

    I’ve never even heard of him until this post, which is probably a good omen for him. Thanks she-reporter!

  • http://reporterette.com Yvette Stafford

    Thanks for the comments all:

    Eric:
    As a conservative, you may be surprised to know that I agree with you about Dean. He is articulate and an intelligent speaker. I think he represents the true soul of today’s Democratic party. Do I think he’s WRONG on most everything? You bet. But he’s blunt and honest and I admire that.

    As for Warner, yack! I met Warner several years ago in a real estate office when he was running for the U.S. Senate. My initial gut reaction: smarmy. He does have a knack though for getting out the rural vote, but I think a solid conservative Republican — not necessarily a Bible-thumping one — could turn things around.

    BTW, the Gingrich mention makes me giggle. He is the “Howard Dean” of the GOP, or shall I say Dean is the “Newt Gingrich” of the DNC.

    Mike:
    I can see your hesitation in envisioning Bredesen as a viable DNC presidential candidate but he’d be a pretty good VP pick for a Hillary. As for keeping surplus money, better that than spending it.

    Wally:
    Ditto on the Sundquist factor. I think Van Hilleary would have probably been elected if Sundquist hadn’t smeared his party to the extent that he did. When I was living in TN, I voted for VH and was very surprised to see Bredesen become elected. If I was still a TN resident, I’d have to be one of those rare GOP’ers that would cast a vote for a Democratic governor. If he pulls a Sundquist, you’re right, he’s over.

    TempleStark:
    Lighten up. Check my comment on your other post.

    Eric: No prob and happy new year! Great site!

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Yvette,

    Which Warner are you referring to: the smarmy Republican Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee or the smarmy centrist Democratic Governor?

    And by the way: aren’t almost all successful politicians smarmy?

    About Gingrich & Dean: you make a very interesting point. I find Gingrich to be a smart and likeable guy, and can see how he could get real work done with someone like Gary Hart on the security commission that they both sat on a few years back. But God, do I hate the hell out of his politics!

    Cheers,
    Eric B.

  • http://reporterette.com Yvette Stafford

    Hi Eric,

    I’m talking about Mark Warner not John. I’ve never met John.

    Cheers to you too! — Yvette

  • Jules

    Bill,
    Just one small correction about the surplus. Bredesen didn’t hoard all of the surplus, he did what a Tennessee Governor hadn’t done in years. He gave state employees a well deserved raise… and a bonus! Keep in mind that many if not most state workers get paid so little that they have to take on second and third jobs just to make ends meet. Many would be better off working at Wal-Mart.. except that they already work at Wal-Mart as a second job. Not only did Governor Bredesen reward state workers last year, he’s doing it this year as well. Granted it’s only a 1% raise… but it’s better than nothing, which is what they got from Sundquist.
    As for the Income Tax proposal in a second term… I think Bredesen is too smart to pull a stunt like that. I believe he does have aspirations for the Presidency (see the recent New Republic article for examples) and knows proposing an income tax in his 2nd term would mean political death.
    As for the lack of charisma… it’s true he’s not a rousing political speaker, but he is thoughtful and hard working. He also has a great track record of getting things accomplished despite a conservative majority in the state house. He has also held true to most every campaign promise he made while running for Gov. How many Gov.’s can say that? And he has a clean background. SO… Before you count him out, consider that this is a New York Democrat, who is Harvard educated and made his millions in health care, is now the Governor of a red-state. Besides, it’s just 2004 and his name is already being brought up as a 2008 contender.
    Good to see our Gov. already getting some press! Go Phil!

  • http://www.myspace.com/nasnut67 Aaron C. Campbell

    What I keep hearing Tennesseans saying is “FOUR MORE YEARS!” and “PHIL, PHIL, PHIL!”. If Bredesen made a run for the presidency I would stand behind him in the primary. If he went for it, he would be able to take the moderates and liberals. He would be a great president, because he has been the best governor since Lamar Alexander. What has Phil done for Tennessee, lifted entrance fees on state parks, fixed TennCare, gave teachers and state employees raises, passed a lottery, increased funds for students to go to college in Tennessee, improved Tennessee roads, brought jobs to Tennessee, and the list goes on. He has my vote for dog catcher if he was to run for it. All I can say about Phil Bredesen is FOUR MORE YEARS!