Unlike poll workers, I was terribly busy yesterday.
I’d dropped by the school/polling place to chat with Smartypants’ new teacher. I had questions about how to be a cool 3rd grade mom, such as: Am I supposed to accompany him to class on the first day? Do other parents do this? Should I just dump him out front and not call him sweetiepie in front of his manly 8-year old friends? I need to know these things so I don’t wreck his elementary school rep, you know?
As we were finishing up, a little ol’ lady exited the building talking on her cell phone. “It kept telling me I forgot to mark somebody. So, I went back and marked it. Yeah, I’ll bet people probably did. . Lord, you know he’s sure ta get the big head now. He’ll get the shock of his life on down the road.”
The lil’ old lady was the the mother of one of Hawkins County more influential Republicans.
The candidate at-risk for hazardous head-growth was Mike Faulk.
The conversation piqued my curiosity: it also caused me to walk into an open car door because I was too busy eavesdropping to pay attention to where I was going. Since I have no shame about eavesdropping or admitting to it, (although my mother has tried to teach me better and asked me to point this out on the blog) I was in a rush to track down the Republican Son and investigate the matter. Republican Son was out stumping, so I demanded that his wife give-up his whereabouts. I didn’t threaten to beat her with soap in a sock or anything. OK, I didn’t even make a “demand.” I explained my business and asked politely. She told me: she also called Faulk not-so-nice names I’ve never heard before but intend to look-up in the urban dictionary later.
Yes, yes, I know. Faulk is a nice guy. I should have defended his honor – and I thought about it. I really did, but there were complications. See, when properly defending the honor of a lawyer/politician, I’m quite certain you have to smack the offender across the cheek with a white glove – or maybe that’s to challenge them to a duel. Either way, I’m not a white-glove-having kind of woman and there’s really not enough honorable lawyer/politicians to justify buying a pair.
Anyway, It racked down Republican Son to ask if there were some great rebellion a brewin’ and if so, why wasn’t I told about it. Certainly, I was aware Williams had supporters ready to crawl out of the woodwork after the primary. (A good portion of them threatened to beat me with their pocketbooks, tell my mother I chew with my mouth open and swear to my Daddy I am a lover of rotgut whiskey, honky tonk bars and trailer park boys – all because I poked fun at their beloved NASCAR Senator, who, for the record, deserved it.)
According to the Republican Son, he and several other party members are switching horses after the primary (yes, without consulting me or seeking my expert advice on how to have a proper Republican mutiny – I mean, the nerve of some people!) I’m also told there’s a rather large group of displeased Republicans who plan to quietly campaign on Williams’ behalf and have even discussed various ways in which they might help the State Senator – one of the ways might include holding a fund raiser.
Next, in order to figure out how widespread this anti-Faulk movement is, the kids and I stopped at one of the Sit-and-Spit haunts in the upper part of the county today – where Bill and Virgil‘s Anti-Anything-UnRepublican bunch hangs out. Some of the sit-and-spitters were there – not all – talking about how they voted for Phil Roe and arguing with the David Davis folks, who grew so tired of screaming “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!” they finally had to go home and take naps.
The kids wandered around collecting quarters, butterscotch candies and sticks of Juicy Fruit, while I asked if they’d heard anything about this “anti-Faulk” movement. Ol’ JC piped up to inform me that whatever ear I’m supposed to be keeping to the ground must be too full of Cecile’s bullshit to work properly because the anti-Faulk thing isn’t a movement: ain’t nothing moving. It’s just a matter-of-fact and always has been. I rolled my eyes. He threatened to smack both eyeballs out of my head. He then warned me against the evils of having sass in my pants, or pants that are sassy – or something like that. I reminded him that I’m over 30 and he started it – to which he replied whupping a 30 year old girl to finish it didn’t cause him no moral dilemma.
Next, Virgil tells me most of the Spit and Sit crew support the incumbent Senator and like the idea of holding a fund raiser. In fact, they offered (jokingly, I think) to hold a $5-a-plate pig roast. Beer sold separately. The arguments in favor of having this type of shindig were, according to Bill, (a) to send Faulk a message about “his fancy-pants gawdamn $1000-a-plate dinners nobody `round here can afford ” and (b) to let him know nobody want to go to his “fancy-pants gawdamn $1000-a-plate dinners anyway.”
JC, who says he ain’t never seen a plate or a politician worth over $20, was even willing to donate a pig for the cause. I am not certain if the donation would have been made to support Williams or to spite Faulk, who is either losing favor with the locals or never really had it.
The point is these folks were all Faulk supporters early on. So, what happened? What caused the turnaround?
It’s common knowledge Republicans are pouring everything they’ve got into this race: time, money, support and whatnot – because there’s a lot riding on this election. If Faulk loses, the Republicans probably won’t get to say the word “lockstep” and have it mean anything. Furthermore, Ron Ramsey wouldn’t be a shoo-in for the Lt. Governor gig – and should he lose the position, would instantly become the butt of jokes about political flaccidity… well, he would my jokes. And I can only speak for myself. Williams must know he cannot complete with the big Republican machine. So, why try? Instead he is sitting back, polishing his good guy halo and letting the Faulk campaign work against itself.
See, from the get-go, Faulk’s campaign has resembled a page out of QueenBees and Wannabes – starring Ron Ramsey and Mike Faulk as mean girls. Faulk and his followers have been doing the whole petty, vicious – I’m smarter than him. Prettier than him. Better than him. I have WAY more money than him. My friends are more important than his – and just look at my endorsements! Aren’t they pretty – and I’m so popular because everybody loves me. Nobody likes him! He’s a simpleminded Democrat-friendly NASCAR Dork!
You’d think someone might’ve pointed out to Faulk that the mean girls never win in the end.
Likewise, the party’s attacks on Williams are not helping. If anything, pointing out stuff like this reinforces the notion that when you tell Ramsey’s Republican party: “Shove off, you aint’ the boss of me! I work for the People!” (words of Williams’ supporters, not mine) the Haslams, Ramsey’s PAC and the Gregory family stop shoveling loads of cash your way. This also means local voters start thinking Williams, who has no ties to those money-having shovel-holding people, might be less indebted to them… and more inclined to serve the common folk. Additionally, since he has been kicked around so much, they feel sorry for him. They think he might need help fleeing the mean ol’ oppressive boot of big money, corrupt government, bad lawyers, evil auctioneers and all things abhorred by the little people.
Meanwhile, Williams continues to shrug off concerns about money. Aw shuck ma’am, he’s never ran a big money campaign and doesn’t intend to start now. He’ll raise whatever money he can to survive, but ultimately he knows his people do not have money to spare on politics. (His people being the common folks around the district as opposed to Faulk’s people – who are monied folks from outside the district.) Add to this Williams’ claim that he will run on his reputation and his years of service. If people think he’s the best candidate for the job, then they’ll vote for him. Yeah, laugh all you want as you ponder upon how much ad space his reputation will buy him – but since there are constant reminders floating around that Williams fought tooth-and-nail against the state income tax and the income tax pushin’ governor Sundquist has endorsed Faulk, his reputation might push him a bit farther down the path to the Senate than you think.
Whoo-wee, talk about scoring some major points with groups of people, who’ve often lived on reputation when they didn’t have much else, it did. It also feeds the growing sentiment that “Mike Faulk got too big for his breeches.” And the absolute irony here is the Republican Party did this to themselves. They made Williams the unsophisticated underdog that everybody loves to kick. He accepted the role. And now, he has voters rushing to his defense.
Right here is where the Steel Magnolia will insist Williams truly is the “nice, down-to-earth guy” and this is not an act. In fact, he is such a truly wonderful person, she thinks we should all go buy t-shirts with his face on them. I don’t know him well enough to offer an opinion or buy the fan apparel. I do know the nice guy thing is working for him.
Of course, Faulk can likely win back some of those supporters if he starts campaigning like himself- a guy from Hawkins County with regular-fitting breeches. This means he’ll have to lose the entourage, the groupies and… well, by now, he might have some faux secret service agents on his staff – those will have to go too. He’ll definitely want to get the Pointer Brand overalls out of storage and avoid wearing diamond pinky rings… you know, if he does that.
Either way, whatever happens – looks like the race is officially heating up, may eventually include a mud wrestling portion and will almost certainly leave us all in need of a few beers and a long nap when it’s over.