I met Mike Padgett yesterday. Padgett is facing off against Bob Tuke for the democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Winner faces Lamar Alexander.
In West Tennessee, Padgett has been making the rounds meeting folks, shaking hands and doing something I found to be quite surprising. He was actually listening to some people. Apparently he made the rounds with some of the local newspapers as well as stopping and talking to some local farmers. Talking to farmers, in my opinion, was a smart move and here’s why.
The recent rains have been amazingly horrible for local farmers. Right now, local agriculture is two weeks off track in planting seed for this year’s crops and even some of the seed is being given to farmers sparingly, which I will get to in a later post. Fields here have taken on lake-like qualities. If the weather report is accurate for later this week (insert weatherman-never-getting-it-right joke here), we are looking at additional severe weather tonight and tomorrow with precipitation possibly leaving us some more of the wet stuff. This could put planting crops back another week or so. This is a reality.
Here’s what I liked about what Padgett had to say: He was talking about rural economic development and being that I live in rural America, some of what he was saying made sense. We talked about the lack of respect that rural voters sometimes got and he asked asked questions about our manufacturing situation. (I’ve mentioned before that we’ve lost several plants in the past eight years.) During this discussion, we talked about our local census numbers going down as people are living this area.
He also talked about our debt to China. He likened it to credit card companies citing “eventually they and other countries are going to give us a call telling us it’s time to start paying our bills just like credit card companies do.” That made sense to me as I cannot for the life of me understand why we are borrowing so much money.
On the war, he said he wouldn’t finance building roads in Iraq or Afghanistan when we need roads and money here. He said he didn’t know how long we were going to be over there (and expressed he didn’t think we needed to be over there in the first place) but said the troops had to be taken care of. (I agree.) He also doesn’t support a time-table for bringing troops home. His main thrust was regarding that money spent in the Middle East was not being spent on the domestic front. He didn’t seem to be too fond of Dick Cheney.
He asked me to tell him what I thought about our area, and I did. My main thing, and I said this to him, was that right now voters are less concerned about the election in my little slice of the world (I used the Jeremiah Wright incident as an example. Padgett is on Hillary Clinton’s Steering Committee, if you were wondering) and more concerned about how much gas costs and how they were going to feed their children. We live in a community where the median income per household is roughly $31,000 a year. Food and gas costs rising so drastically in the past three years has created a strain. We talked about how these factors were annihilating the local quality of life and because of huge loss of jobs in the area, that people were leaving to find better paying jobs.
Another thing I liked was that he said he refused to say anything negative about Bob Tuke. I haven’t seen Tuke yet although he did go to Mule Day as did Padgett and Alexander. Let me explain something to you, these festivals in small towns are hubs for politicking. You will always find a ton of folks seeking office at these events. I’m sure he’ll be around soon. Another thing that Padgett did right in our brief time together was focus on rural lifestyles and how rural voters are disenfranchised by the entire process of electing leaders right now. It’s a good point. He seemed to have done some homework.
Good for him. Not all of them do, I assure you.
What he did say about Lamar Alexander is that in the first two years in the Senate, he voted with the White House 97 percent of the time. He mentioned that Lamar had gotten better lately. It was at 93 percent now. (He managed to smile a bit when he said this.)
What I don’t like is his website. There really isn’t enough information about where he stands on the issues but when you meet him face-to-face, he seems to be very clear about where he stands. Someone needs to make sure his website is more user friendly and addresses the issues more directly because the site is, at this point, a throw away political site with little weight to it. Bob Tuke’s website actually has a page of issues. I suggest that Padgett’s people do the same as it important in this day of new media. I see more voters researching specific issues and when you live in rural America, where better to do that than online.
He also has Blue Solutions running his campaign. They recently ran Lowe Finney’s campaign for Senate successfully.
If Padgett is going to areas and meeting with people, not just news people, but farmers and average citizens, I think he will do better than people expect him to do. He didn’t have the mannerisms of a Nashville insider, something Tuke has been accused of in inner circles, and that may help him. He has, from what I can see here in northwest Tennessee, very little name recognition and that could hurt him a bit but by taking to the streets, that might help. Tuke doesn’t have name recognition over here either. Just saying. I had several people ask me late yesterday who both of these guys were. Always an issue.
They do, however, know Lamar’s name.
Can he get people to vote for him instead of Lamar, who is familiar and popular even with Tennessee Democrats? I don’t know however I noticed when he was meeting people he addressed that. He asked people to go to his website, remember his name and although he asked for at least five people’s votes that I saw, he said “Don’t make your decision now. Just learn about me and where I stand.”
“Stand With me” seems to be his logo. It’s even on his site.
Let’s take a look at Padgett’s background. He won several terms for Knox County Clerk before he left office when term limits were upheld. He opened locations around Knoxville for those people not working traditional schedules to get their tags and what not, even putting one in a mall (or at least this is what he told me.) On the down low, Padgett did have a bit of controversy a couple of years back according to a Katie Allison Granju story regarding hiring his son’s company to handle online transactions.
So that was my meeting with Padgett. I suggested, as he’s staying in Nashville right now to be centrally located across the state, if he wanted a meet up with Nashville bloggers. He agreed. I’ll get the details worked out on that and we will see if it comes to fruition. And I know the Memphis guys would like to meet him as well. Being that he’s on the other side of the state, meeting up with folks is important.
This is, by no means, an endorsement of any kind. Just letting you know what I witnessed.