Betty Bean’s column in the Halls Shopper News predicts Senator Mike Williams may not be interested in racing to win his 4th district seat:
Williams, the Maynardville Republican who declared himself an Independent a year ago, is not seeking re-election. He has until April 3 to officially make up his mind, and he’s not quite making the announcement yet, but a conversation with him last week in his Nashville office made it clear that he’s had enough, at least for now.
“It’s been like a roller-coaster ride,” he said. “There are days when I want to run, and there are days when I see the system for what it really is. The system doesn’t smile on those who buck it.”
Williams, whose legislative office is decorated in a NASCAR theme and who often wears a Dale Earnhardt jacket in the Legislative Plaza, began to run afoul of party brass in 2004, when Republicans gained control of the Senate by a one-seat margin.[…]
Last March 14, he declared himself an Independent.
What drove him to that?
“The combination of seeing people in elected office say one thing publicly and get to Nashville and act 100 percent opposite,”’ Williams said. “I caught heat for voting for last year’s budget. Not one Republican voted for it in our area, but my school systems got badly needed extra money. I voted for the cigarette tax, too, and it funded a regional trauma center here in East Tennessee. These are life and death realities, and I voted the best interests of my people – not my party.”
Williams feels that he was singled out for punishment because he is from a rural area and more vulnerable to outside pressure than legislators from urban counties.
“They culled me from the herd and used me as a whipping post. They never reached out to me at all.”
This treatment started early, and Williams says that former GOP party chair Bob Davis attempted to discourage him from running in the first place, but had to acquiesce when the preferred candidate backed out of running.
“A few weeks later, I’m looking across the table at him knowing he didn’t want me there,”’ Williams said.
“This is my 18th year here, and I just believe in doing what’s best for my district. I fought a Republican governor (Don Sundquist) on the income tax, and I was seen as a rebel.
“Sundquist has already endorsed Mike Faulk (a trial lawyer from Church Hill who has been running for the 4th District Senatorial seat for two years). From every indication I can see, I can win – I just don’t know if I want to.
I was raised by wonderful parents who taught me right from wrong, and to never think you’re better than anyone else. I guess the fact that I don’t let people put strings on me is my biggest problem. I’ve got no regrets.”’
Just yesterday, the Steel Magnolia gave me the what’s for after I poked fun @ Senator Mike Williams for impersonating Dale and playing in the parking garage (which I still think is southern comedy at its finest.)Folks, I’ll be honest. Getting called out on your blog by the town’s most highly respected Steel Magnolia is sorta like having your Mama snatch you up by your shirt collar and drag you off toward the woodshed. You know you’re in big trouble… and you might even deserve it.
She reminded me that Williams has brought boatloads of money into Hawkins County over the years and points out he’s precious and adored. She also blames the polarized-nature of politics for the tidal wave on the verge of knocking Williams from his seat.
After all, it’s no secret this district is a Republican stronghold or that the GOP has wanted rid of Mike for years. Whereas he calls himself a Rebel: they call him a loose cannon. Unfortunately, prior to `07, their hands were tied. Turning on their own would have made folks suspect they also eat their young. However, when Williams pulled his infamous “You Ain’t the Boss of Me GOP” move and parted ways with the party, three very significant things happened: (1) he lost a huge block of party-line voters, (2) he lost GOP money and (3) he placed a huge proverbial neon “Kick Me” sign on his back.
With politics being such as they are, Williams became fair game. Consequently, anything Mike Williams does, which can be called into question, will be. If he asks the special interest groups for money, you will know. If the Dems contribute to his campaign, you will know. If he consorts with the “enemy,” says something stupid, votes the wrong way, buys name brand toilet paper for the office instead of generic or picks his nose in the parking lot, you will know.
Both parties use these targeted attacks for a reason – because they work. Voters base their decisions on what information is out there. In fact, if you’ve been reading this blog over the past year, you’d know – many already have. And while Williams has done any number of benign and comedic things to make matters worse, the one thing he has not done is reach out to his voters. Whether by personal appearance, via the press, a website, a letter, email, skywriting or some other form of communication: Williams hasn’t talked about where he stands on various issues. He hasn’t told us what this new Independent Mike Williams stands for or what values he has. He hasn’t told us much at all. Maybe he assumes we should already know: but voters do not work this way.
We’re forgetful, fickle, tight-fisted and easily lured away by Republicans with guns.
So, yeah, I call it in favor of Faulk. Not just because Williams had been sufficiently knocked down but because he never bothered to come back up swinging.