Trojan Horse Politics: Two Pols Who Invade the Other Party's Turf

The GOP's Paul Boyd wants everybody to know "their clerk;" the Democrats' Manoj Jain is interested in an "exchange of views." Both turn up regularly at their opposite numbers' shindigs.

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Boyd (l) and Jain meet at GOP pidnic. All smiles here.
  • JB
  • Boyd (l) and Jain meet at GOP pidnic. All smiles here.
During a political campaign season, there are public meetings (candidate forums sponsored by third-party groups, for example) that anybody can attend, and there are specifically partisan gatherings open only to the political organizations — Republican and Democratic, in the main — that call them. Right?

Not necessarily. There are a couple of innovators out there — Paul Boyd, the incumbent Probate Court clerk, and Dr. Manoj Jain, a candidate for the Shelby County Commission, who seem determined to change that last part.

Boyd is one of the Republicans who was elected in the GOP countywide sweep of 2010; Jain is the Democratic nominee for the newly configured District 13 Shelby County Commission seat.

Boyd has made it a point to attend expressly Democratic events in addition to the ones held under Republican or neutral auspices. Why? “I just want everybody to know that, regardless of party, I’m their clerk,” he says.

Likewise, Jain fairly routinely turns up at GOP events. In fact, he goes out of his way to do so. Why? “I want to learn as much as I can,” says the first-time candidate. “I want to exchange views with as many people as possible.”

Given the frequency of political meetings during a campaign year, the two have often been at the same place at the same time. On Monday evening, they were both at the Wyndike Country Club, site of the annual spring picnic of the Shelby County Republican Women. During campaign years like this one, the gathering doubles as an organized rally for party candidates.

Jain arrived late, looking amiable and sunny, as always. (He once stifled a brewing quarrel among feuding and shouting members of the local Democratic executive committee by leading the group in a meditative chant.)

He listened as this or that Republican candidate or incumbent was introduced and made a speech and seemed not to notice, or be bothered by, the decidedly un-sunny inquisitive looks he was getting from Steve Basar, a GOP incumbent on the County Commission and his opponent for the District 13 seat.

Jain interacts with County Trustee David Lenoir and County Commissioner Terry Roland, while his bemused election opponent Steve Basar looks on. - JB
  • JB
  • Jain interacts with County Trustee David Lenoir and County Commissioner Terry Roland, while his bemused election opponent Steve Basar looks on.

When the speeches were over, Jain circulated, presumably in order to achieve the exchange of views he had spoken of. He managed a few, apparently untroubled conversations with some of the Republicans present, though not with Basar, who continued to regard him suspiciously and would say, when asked, that he thought Jain’s visit was inappropriate.

At some point, Jain and Boyd encountered each other and exchanged views about their respective acts of interloping on the other party’s turf. That meeting looked friendly enough. Perhaps they also exchanged tips.

Boyd, for his part, has not been challenged at Democratic meetings, nor has he yet intersected directly with his election opponent, William Chism Jr. He’s on the same level in that respect as most Democratic activists, for whom Chism, a surprise winner in last month’s party primary, remains something of an Unknown Quantity.

In any case, both Boyd and Jain intend to keep on keeping on with their extra-mural visits, and it remains to be seen what might happen if either of them should meet with serious resistance by a partisan of the other party.

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