If not Bill Haslam, then who? Hmmm, says David Kustoff. How about me?
That was the clear meta-message of a press release from the 8th District Republican congressman Thursday in the wake of former Governor Haslam’s published disavowal of any intent to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020.
The former governor, who would have been an odds-on favorite in the GOP primary and probably the general election, had this to say in an op-ed in the Nashville Tennessean
regarding his decision not to seek the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Lamar Alexander:
“While I think serving in the United States Senate would be a great privilege and responsibility, I have come to the conclusion that it is not my calling for the next period of my life. This is a difficult decision because I have loved my time in public service and I believe so deeply in the importance of our political process.”
Kustoff, the 8th District congressman who was first elected in 2016 and was handily reelected last year, promptly teased his availability in the aforementioned press release. It reads as follows:
“Governor Haslam's career of public service is an honorable one, and I am grateful for all he has done for our state. Tennessee is home to some of our country’s best agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism and we need a senator who is willing to work with President Trump to help these industries thrive. It is vital that Tennessee has a senator that knows and deeply cares about the state and its people. I've been approached by folks from all across Tennessee encouraging me to run and I look forward to continuing to talk to the people about how to best continue serving our great state."
There are two hoary cliches on the subject of political office. Those leaving it, whether under pressure or not, often express their reason for doing so as a desire “to spend more time with my family” or something such-like. (Non-existent is the corollary: “I am running in order to spend less
time with my family.”)
On the other hand, those about to seek an office customarily say something such as, “My friends have been asking me to consider seeking, etc., etc.” Kustoff’s statement is in that tradition. And, no doubt, he does have friends who have indeed floated the idea with him.
Other political figures, Republican and Democratic alike, have such friends, and one suspects we are about to hear from several others in addition to Kustoff.
Among the Republicans rumored to be thinking about running are former U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Stephen Fincher. Current GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Geeen has disavowed any interest in running. Among Democrats, Nashville lawyer and Iraq war veteran James Mackler has been running for some time.
More to come as developments warrant.