It’s going to be rather difficult to turn down the volume in this last day of national and state politicking as it most likely will be cranked up to 11 until late tomorrow evening.
A great deal of Tennesseans have already voted but tomorrow is the day for the traditionalists, or those who just couldn’t get to early voting. As the presidential race goes, it won’t be a huge surprise to see the state stay red. It’s the local races I’m most interested in as we have constitutional amendments coming up in 2014 and probably another rabid legislation session when the General Assembly meets up again in January with new faces.
As a native northwest Tennessean and former journalist in that area, I can tell you that rural races are a lot different that urban campaigns. Let’s take Weakley, Obion, Lake and other counties in the upper corner of the state. Tennessee television news is scarce as many satellite packages don’t even carry in-state news. The Tennessean used to only be delivered to boxes on Sundays and even that is scarce these days. Small town papers have limited space due to ad revenue drops over the years, so political ads may appear but political news will always be secondary when there is a picture of a local kid catching a touchdown. Every momma, daddy, sister, aunt, uncle and various grandparents are going to buy a newspaper with their child’s mug in it. They aren’t going to go out of their way to buy the weekly or biweekly deadwood if a local or state politician is on it in a stock photo of them shaking hands and kissing babies.
Believe me on this one, I know what I’m talking about. When I worked at the radio station and at both papers in Weakley County (Hoots), you bump the middle-school cheerleaders for a picture of someone like, let’s say John Tanner when he was in office, the wrath of parents (consumers) was very real and borderline frightening.
The problem that arises is that candidates in state or local races in rural areas have to fight just as hard to get earned and unearned media as someone in the Shelby County, Hamilton County and other more populated areas. There simply just isn’t enough newsprint real estate. And with subscription only paywalls becoming more frequent and lack of funding for other online options, we are looking at very real challenges.
The key to state races is what they will do when they get to Nashville. Freshman are not going to have that same dynamic that elected officials did a decade ago. When democrats are in the minority under a supermajority, which will most likely remain, there are two options.
Governing won’t be easy so, in the style that the Tennessee GOP did for years, there is going to have to be more opposing the legislation that doesn’t help average Tennesseans.
And with many folks not getting state news due to geographical location, it’s important that people know what that legislation is.
Friends, believe it or not, there are a lot of fiercely independent voters from that area. I’m from there. They are going to vote what they know. Unfortunately, the media is these areas have changed. When the new chair for the TNDP takes office, I hope that person will pay more attention to the reality that rural areas are different than urban ones. You can get people involved if they know what is going on.
One more day, campers and then in some ways it starts all over again.