Political bloggers scoffed when Democratic nominee for governor Mike McWherter had a press conference last week to announce that Commissioner of Agriculture Ken Givens will resign and join McWherter’s campaign senior staff. “You call this news?” was a common refrain.
We think it’s news. Givens was a popular Democratic legislator from Republican Hawkins County back in the day. He was a key ally of Gov. Ned McWherter and was frequently a conduit between McWherter and the machine of Republican Congressman Jimmy Quillen in upper East Tennessee. Quillen’s support for Ned McWherter against Republican Winfield Dunn was key to McWherter’s being elected governor.
If Mike McWherter plans to reach out to the Ned McWherter/Quillen people in rural upper East Tennessee, Givens is the ideal choice. Can Givens knit together the boys from the old days into allies for Mike McWherter? It will be something to watch during the coming months.