Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another Editorial Against Wilder

Wilder’s leadership non-existent in Senate

January 05, 2007
Nashville City Paper

It is one of the classic clichés in public life. Often, the armchair philosophers of the world posit a community gets what it deserves in an election.

If that is the case, then it would appear Tennesseans are about to “deserve” the vacuous leadership of Lt. Gov. John Wilder again.

Wilder pulled the first in an expected pair of Houdini-like political escapes this week, winning the Democratic Senate Caucus nomination for state Senate Speaker and the Lt. Governor’s title by default.

Wilder beat out Sen. Joe Haynes, not exactly known as a political risk-taker. For Haynes to even enter the race must have meant at one point he was fairly certain he would win. It was not to be.

In truth, Wilder, a Democrat, has become a political lightning rod in the state as his ability to remain Lt. Governor rests with his ability to get Republican Senators to cross party lines. Republican leaders and activists have been particularly resentful that Tennessee has yet to experience GOP leadership in the Legislature’s higher house despite a GOP majority.

In fact, it is really unclear what Wilder has brought to the leadership of the Senate in the last decade of his 30-year-plus reign as Lt. Governor other than a bi-partisanship born not of high-minded ideals but political expediency.

Wilder has failed to contribute substantively in any debate about the state’s future in recent memory or offer any legislation of substance addressing these kinds of concerns.

What Wilder has done is to politically survive. He is most often knocked for his mercurial style and his advanced age when critics question his leadership. Clearly, the years have not lessened Wilder’s political acumen, but it seems that this keenly honed sense of political maneuvering is all he is willing to contribute at the highest levels of state government.

In truth, Tennesseans from both political parties tired of Wilder’s non-leadership in the Senate need to look not at this aging political warrior but at their own state Senator. Though Tennesseans themselves are not directly casting the ballots to put Wilder back in the speaker’s chair, they are electing year in and year out state Senators by and large willing to do so.

Nashville’s own Senators have chosen to toe the party line and support Wilder despite his seemingly absent leadership style beyond bipartisan committee assignments and oddball floor speeches.

So, to date, Tennesseans for the last three decades have deserved John Wilder as their Lt. Governor. They may earn the right to call him speaker again very soon.

Two of three Nashville newspapers have now called for Lieutenant Governor Wilder's replacement. Two, Kingsport Times News and Knoxville News Sentinel, of three daily newspapers that circulate most widely in the Fourth Senate District which includes Hawkins County have also editorialized against Wilder continuing as Speaker of the State Senate.

If you agree with what these newspapers are saying, please let Sen. Williams know so there can be no doubt what his constituents want him to do

District Address

P.O. Box 176
5224 Maynardville Highway
Maynardville, TN 37807
Phone (865) 992-6254

Nashville Address

4 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243-0204
Phone (615) 741-2061
Fax (615) 253-0286

Staff Contact: Dorris Barnes and Skip Cauthorn, Executive Asst. for Policy and Research

Internet E-Mail Address
Sen. Mike Williams


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