Monday, November 26, 2007

Madison County Mayor Primary Contest

An interesting development has occurred in Madison County regarding the county mayor's office. Earlier this year Jimmy Harris was appointed county mayor when the previous mayor was elected mayor of the City of Jackson. Harris became the first republican to hold the office of Madison County Mayor in the history of the county. Harris has been business partners with the grandfather of the Madison County republican party, Jimmy Wallace.

Now comes word that Don McLeary will challenge Harris in the republican primary on February 5, 2008, which coincides with the presidential primary. You remember Don McLeary, right? He ran as a democrat and defeated long time republican state senator Bobby Carter. Then he switched parties and ran as a republican in 2006, losing to the democratic challenger, Lowe Finney.

What is McLeary's strategy for running against Jimmy Harris for this seat? Harris will certainly have the backing of Jimmy Wallace (close personal friend of Fred Thompson, by the way) and the republican establishment. Harris says that Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey will be in town in December to campaign for him. So if McLeary can't expect the backing of the republican base, who does he expect will vote for him? The only possible scenario I see is that he hopes for a lot of democrats and independents to vote in the presidential primary election, pick up a republican presidential ballot rather than a democratic one and vote for him. (Word on the street is that some democrats/independents have solicited McLeary to run but no concrete proof of this has surfaced yet.) If that is the strategy, I'm not sure I follow the logic. If the democratic presidential primary is still close after Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, won't the local democrats want to vote in the democratic presidential primary? If they do, then they can't vote in the local republican mayoral primary. And with Fred Thompson on the republican presidential primary ballot, won't a lot of republicans go to the polls to vote for him -- and vote for Jimmy Harris? It would not surprise me in the least that if Fred Thompson makes a campaign stop in Jackson between now and the primary that he has Jimmy Harris on the stage with him and encourages voters to support Harris.

Certainly McLeary can't run as a democrat or independent in the August, 2008, general election because he will loose all credibility having already switched parties one time.

It is an intriguing development in the local mayor's race and it will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out. And if McLeary looses I suspect he won't find the backing of the local republican establishment in any future races.

UPDATE: After I posted on this subject, an anonymous source told me that republican state senator Bobby Carter tried to recruit Don McLeary to run as a republican in 2002 for the state senate and that Bobby Carter would have stepped aside and supported McLeary. Instead, McLeary opted to run as a democrat. So the chronology of McLeary's involvement with the local republican party since 2002 is: (1) Refused Bobby Carter's overture to run for state senate as a republican; (2) ran as a democrat for state senate and defeated an ailing Bobby Carter; (3) switched parties and ran as a republican in his re-election campaign, loosing to Lowe Finney; and (4) Is now running in republican primary for county mayor against Jimmy Harris who supported McLeary in 2006 in his state senate re-election campaign. Also, there are some who believe that unless and until McLeary actual files his petition to run in the republican primary that he may actually file to run as an independent or democrat. This theory is based on who is recruiting McLeary to run, per my source.


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