Should Al Gore Run for Senate?

Should Al Gore Run for Senate?

Republican Bob Corker, a pragmatic deal maker in the U.S. Senate, has decided not to seek re-election next year, opting out of the strongest political headwinds conservatives have faced in a generation. In about 400 days the historic seat, once held by Al Gore Sr., will have a new occupant, offering Democrats hope for a pickup they would not have otherwise had on their radar.

Should former Vice President Gore follow the John McCain approach to life after a White House bid and return to the Senate? McCain’s dramatic votes derailing Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are reminders of how fateful a single Senator can be. Gore hasn’t weighed in yet, but the history is fascinating.

Modern history of the TN Senate seats

The Gore family connection to this seat began in 1952, when Al Gore Sr. won the position he would hold for the next 18 years, until the politics of the Vietnam War cost him the job in a difficult race. Republican Bill Brock would last only a single term before Senator Gore’s 1970 campaign manager, Jim Sasser, with considerable help from the Gore family (who’s opposition to the Vietnam War was no longer such a liability), reclaimed the seat for the Democrats. Sasser’s long tenure ran until 1994 when he lost to the Republicans, who have held it since.

TN Senate Race 1984

  • Al Gore (D)
  • Victor Ashe (R)
  • Ed McAteer (I)

TN Senate Race 1990

  • Al Gore (D)
  • William Hawkins (R)
  • Others (I)

Meanwhile, Al Gore Jr. graduated Harvard in 1969. He was one of around a dozen graduates among the 1,115 in the class, who went to Vietnam. After the Army Gore began work as an investigative newspaper reporter and enrolled at Vanderbilt. In early 1976, when Congressman Joe Evins unexpectedly announced his retirement from Congress, Gore left Vanderbilt to run for the seat. He would win and go on to serve in the U.S. House for 8 years, until he ran for and won his seat in the U.S. Senate. He remained in the upper chamber until he became Vice President of the United States.

The 2018 race

Speculation of likely candidates in Tennessee include: Conservative activist Andy Ogles (announced), Republican state lawmakers (former) Rep. Joe Carr and Sen. Mark Green (hinted at runs), and Democratic attorney James Mackler (announced).

I’m not the first Gore loyalist to suggest he take a look at this race. Ronald Klain, former Chief of Staff fo the Vice President, upon hearing of Corker’s retirement, tweeted:

Please @AlGore run for TN-Sen. Please. Please.

While Democrats have a hard time winning races in the South in recent history, do not underestimate the potential groundswell of support they may see in the midterms. In 1974 angry Americans who felt Republican lawmakers were moving too slowly to deal with Nixon’s corruption cost them 48 House seats and 5 Senate seats. Could 2018 have echoes of ’74s drama?

As to whether he’ll jump into this race, the White House in 2020, or any other campaign, he keeps his own council. Gore surprised people when he jumped into the House race years ago to claim his father’s former seat.  What’s certain is that America is a better country when Al Gore’s voice is loudest.

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