As Mark Norris of Collierville, the Republicans' state Senate majority leader, and Doug Jackson of Dickson, the Democrats' vice caucus chairman in the Senate, were chatting it up on the House floor after last Thursday's election of constitutional officers, the talk came around to the 2010 governor's race.
Maybe it was just opening-session badinage, a means of relieving some of the lingering cross-party tension that accrued to the controversial election of House Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton, a Republican who won the post with Democratic votes. Or maybe it was just a natural conversational outgrowth of the friendly relationship the two party leaders seem to have.
Or maybe it was true 'gen.
In any case, Jackson had some news for Norris, who had just been good-naturedly evading a reporter's point-blank questions about Norris' possible plans to run for governor in 2010. The upshot of that was that Norris wasn't ready to close the door on a race, despite the already announced Republican candidacy of District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, a fellow Shelby Countian.
It was then that Jackson made a surprising - and apparently serious - affirmation: "Tim McGraw is going to run. And he's going to be campaigning with his band."
Although the name of County-Western star McGraw had surfaced a time or two last year in connection with a governor's race, and both McGraw and wife Faith Hill had commented on the prospect of his running for the office as a Democrat, this may have been the first time the idea of a McGraw candidacy had been put forth by a bona fide political insider. The first time in 2009, anyhow.
If a McGraw candidacy does materialize, it wouldn't be the first time a major C&W personality had campaigned for governor in the manner indicated by Jackson. Hall of Famer Roy Acuff did it on the Republican ticket in 1948.
In recent years, McGraw has broadened his frontiers, doing some serious acting and getting involved in a number of civic and charitable causes. He and Hill, staying in the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Georgetown, are among the celebrity attendees at this week's Inauguration activities in Washington.
It needs to be remembered that when McGraw began his career as singer and performer in the early '90s, his first song to reach a C&W chart was called "Welcome to the Club." Maybe he needs to retool that one.