published Friday, December 4th, 2009

No more races, Cammack says


by Matt Wilson

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Democrat Ward Cammack's abbreviated run for Tennessee governor was his first and last political campaign, he said.

"I do plan to remain active on the civic level and help out where I can, politically," Mr. Cammack said. "But I don't plan to run again. This was a one-time thing."

In a letter posted on his Web site Thursday, Mr. Cammack said he was leaving the race.

"Despite significant personal time, money and appeal of my vision for the state, long-standing political alliances proved impenetrable and fund raising ground to a halt, effectively ending the campaign," he wrote.

Mr. Cammack's exit makes him the second Democrat to leave the governor's race in three days. State Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, said Tuesday he was dropping out to run for the congressional seat of U.S. Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., who is not running for re-election.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Mr. Cammack, an investment banker, "brought a very dynamic and interesting perspective to the race as a Democrat" by stressing issues such as sustainable economic development and transportation.

Mr. Cammack "worked hard," but Mr. Forrester said in speaking with him Thursday he had indicated that a "tough uphill battle to raise money appeared daunting."

The initial political buzz was that Mr. Cammack was prepared to fund a statewide campaign himself, but he threw water on the notion last spring.

Mr. Cammack had contributed a little more than $70,000 to his own campaign and lent it about $40,000, records show. That accounted for 56 percent of the total $196,000 his campaign raised as of June 30, according to records.

Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said Mr. Cammack, who never has held political office, had "no particular political base" and "wasn't very visible to the general electorate or to party activists."

"Sometimes people who have interests and resources are interested in running and find out that's not enough to get them over the hump to be a successful politician," he said.

Dr. Oppenheimer said those two exits could have benefited other Democrats in the race, but probably no one in particular.

"As you remove Democrats from the field, it becomes a little less competitive," he said.

But he said the exits also may demonstrate that Democrats feel they cannot win.

Former state Democratic Party officials have said Democratic businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, should benefit from Sen. Herron's departure. But state Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis also might be helped. Former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan also is in the contest.

Mr. Cammack said he hopes to endorse another candidate, but he hasn't made a decision yet.

"I'm not going to endorse just because I like somebody or because I think they're going to win," he said. "I'm going to endorse based my feeling of their ability to deal with the situation."

WHO'S RUNNING?

Republicans:

* U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.

* Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam

* Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville

* Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons

* Joe Kirkpatrick

Democrats:

* State Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis

* Former state Rep. Kim McMillan, D-Clarksville

* Mike McWherter, son of former governor Ned McWherter

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