Madeline Rogero came out of the latest fund-raising period with momentum, out-raising her opponents. She has name recognition and experience from her previous race. Regardless of the reasons for Marilyn Roddy dropping out of the race to run for the state Senate, Rogero supporters can credibly argue that it is because Rogero is leading the race and appears to be on her way to victory.
Though the mayoral race is nonpartisan, the removal of Roddy takes away a Republican candidate with $100,000 in the bank, a comforting thing for a Democrat running in Knox County.
Rogero has some credibility in going after Republican voters. She has experience on County Commission and she served in the administration of Republican Mayor Bill Haslam. She also has appeal with women voters.
Rogero also has to win the city’s Democrats away from Mark Padgett. Padgett’s father was one of the few Democrats elected countywide, and remains popular. Mark Padgett worked for Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. But among rank-and-file activist Democrats, Rogero has a strong base. She also knows the neighborhood groups, the precinct leaders and the go-to community leaders, and she has a staff of city election veterans who have been in the trenches.
As the Roddy withdrawal demonstrates, things can change dramatically in a political race. But Rogero has to be smiling this week. If you are handicapping the race at this point, the over and under is whether she wins without a runoff.