I was invited to lunch by the Dean folks last week. Lunch was at The Flying Saucer and was paid for by the Dean folks (if you wanted to pay your own check you could – several people, including Bruce Barry of the Scene and Rob Robinson (Think Train) paid their own freight). I was not representing the great state of Tennessee or any organization other than the motley state of Salem’s Lots, so I took the lunch*.
I will post details about this lunch later, but I want to drop a few general thoughts now. I had lunch with David Briley a few weeks ago**. He’s also running (if you didn’t know already) and running based on his knowledge of Nashville (grandson of first Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville) and his experience as a councilman-at-large. Briley knows his Nashville and sounded at times absolutely passionate about public policy and how to make Nashville a better place.
Dean also wants to be mayor. Despite his late entry into the race, and the lack of name recognition (compared to a Briley, Dozier, Clement or Gentry), the man thinks he can be elected and run the joint. He does not come across arrogantly, but he did manage to convey confidence.
Dean can be self-effacing (‘I’m supposed to say WHEN I’m mayor instead of if I’m mayor..whoops’) while clearing exhibiting the fact that he has oodles*** of executive experience. He’s run the Public Defender’s office AND Metro Legal Services. The current mayor clearly believes in Dean, and probably (speculation warning!) has a lot to do encouraging the man to run for mayor.
Dean speaks like an executive. He knows that he has a certain amount of political capital as mayor and wants to expend it prudently: public safety and education were recurring motifs of the day.
Other themes were the reality of what a mayor can do and the budget and legal constraints under which a mayor serves. Dean isn’t going to promise the moon, nor Stilton cheese. He weighs the possiblities and understands the cost, both in political and financial terms.
Bruce Barry summarized the talk (Barry asked great questions, btw) in Pith in the Wind. One of the commenters stated that it sounded like Dean doesn’t stand for much of anything. I disagree. Dean is going to choose his battles wisely and put forth the resources to wage those battles well. The other stuff will have to take a back seat, not ignored, but not highlighted either.
Re the battle of Dean and Briley for the so-called progressive vote. Briley says he’s (Briley) better prepared based on his time on the council. Dean say’s he’s better prepared because he HASN’T served on the council, with the implication that his executive experience trumps legislative experience when it comes to running a city.
Personally, I like em’ both, and I want to hear more from both, and it really doesn’t matter if the lunch is paid for or not.
* I do not consider myself a journalist. I represent no media organization. If I was a journalist I would need to pay for my own food. And for what it’s worth, The Flying Saucer does good BRATS.
***oodles – i’m resorting to technical jargon I realize. No where in any point of the conversation with Mr. Dean did the word ‘oodles’ make an appearance!