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On Political Dogs and the Demise of Independent TN Voters

The November election shows that the once-dominant Tennessee political species known as the “yellow dog Democrat” is not extinct, though confined to isolated areas, while the now-dominant species — let’s call it “yellow cat Republican,” though the phrase is not christened by tradition — is thriving in much broader geographic regions.
Exhibit No. 1 on the Yellow Dog Democrat (YDD) survival front: Mark Clayton, widely condemned and officially disavowed by the remnant state Democratic establishment for “extremist views” contrary to Democratic values. He nonetheless collected more than 30 percent of the vote statewide against Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. He got 704,708 votes and, if you counted only the votes in the Democrat-dominated habitats of Davidson and Shelby counties, would have defeated Corker.
That was roughly equal to the percentage performance of Democrat John Jay Hooker against incumbent Republican Don Sundquist in the 1998 gubernatorial election.
The state Democratic Party had urged the faithful to write in a candidate rather than vote for Clayton. Almost none did so. After the election, Clayton actually declared victory “in the race against the unelected bosses who waged a write-in campaign (against) their own duly nominated leader (Clayton) with unauthorized party resources.”
In short, the YDD faithful ignored the party advice and backed Clayton.
Exhibit No. 1 on the Yellow Cat Republican (YCR) front: U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais was re-elected with almost 56 percent of the vote in the GOP-dominated habitat called the 4th Congressional District, despite the disclosure that he had been a total hypocrite in his private life as compared to his political and public life declaration of opposing abortion. And that, as a physician, he had sex with patients other than his wife at the time. You might say that, in his personal life, he had exhibited extremist views contrary to Republican values.

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