The announcement this week from state senator Rosalind Kurita of Clarksville that she intends to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2006 means that 9th District congressman Harold Ford of Memphis will not have a free run, as he had surely hoped, in the Democratic primary. In a larger sense, it ensures an unprecedentedly diverse field of candidates for the seat that Majority Leader Bill Frist intends to vacate in order to prepare a presidential run in 2008.
Coupled with last week's announcement of candidacy from state representative Beth Halteman Harwell, the outgoing chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, Kurita's announcement means that women will be serious challengers in both major-party primaries. (Still undeclared, but a distinct possibility to make a bid, is 7th District GOP congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.)
Ford is an African American whose essentially centrist positions on a number of public issues afford him a unique position in the spectrum. And the GOP field -- so far including, besides Harwell, former 7th District congressman Ed Bryant, a conservative, and Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, a presumed moderate -- will offer further variety.
Both primaries will likely see even more entrants. Considering the rough-and-tumble to come, it is probably inaccurate to use a phrase like "the more the merrier." But our attention -- and presumably that of both Tennessee voters and national political observers -- has certainly been piqued. •