By SAM HATCHER
Members of the “Fourth Estate,” those who publish and edit many of Tennessee’s newspapers are in Nashville today and throughout the weekend attending the Tennessee Press Association’s annual winter convention. This is the one meeting of our group that is usually filled with political speculation and numerous rumors. Some of which pan out while others are scoffed and forgotten. In any event the whispers and “have you heards” are always interesting because they come from as far away as Milan in West Tennessee to crossroad communities in the mountains of East Tennessee. So, here are a couple of speculative notes overheard at a reception Wednesday night hosted at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Two have surfaced as potential candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor after U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis announced that he will not run for the office. Knoxville businessman Doug Horne and Jackson attorney and businessman Mike McWherter are both being said to be considering the race and oddly enough both were in attendance at the Tennessee Press reception and even more boldly both indicated to me and others they are taking a serious look at throwing their respective hats in the ring. Horne, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, owns newspapers, develops shopping centers, is a member of the University of Tennessee Board of Trust and has his hands in a number of other business and political pies across the state. More closer to home he is also a former member of the Cumberland University Board of Trust and was instrumental in launching a campaign at the university to help build the Harry and Doris Vise Library. McWherter has a name that may ring a familiar sound to many. It was his father who stood like Hoss Cartwright of the television show “Bonanza” over the Tennessee House of Representative as its Speaker and later served two distinguish terms as governor. Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam continues to be a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for governor. Oddly enough he and Horne are good friends, go to the same church in Knoxville and see each other frequently. What’s that saying, “politics makes strange bedfellows?” And there was also speculation at the reception that Gov. Phil Bredesen may be tapped by President Obama to come to Washington to serve in the cabinet post as Secretary of Health and Human Services and if not there perhaps in some other prominent White House role. The interesting quirk about this is that if it does in fact happen, the state will have a new governor. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican from Blountville, would replace Bredesen as he is next in line of succession. Also mentioned Wednesday night as a possible contender for a Washington White House job was Fifth District U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper. However, this rumor is somewhat tainted as Cooper just recently cast a vote against the president’s stimulus package.