The Chip Forrester Factor: How Much Did It Play Into Lincoln Davis' Decision?

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By making his big announcement only five days after the Democratic Party elected Chip Forrester chairman, Lincoln Davis was sending a message, according to one insider: "It feels like a 'fuck you, Chip Forrester' to me." Davis already was leaning heavily against running for governor in 2010, afraid he'd lose and become an unemployed ex-congressman like Bob Clement. But the party's executive committee shoved Davis over the edge by electing Forrester against the wishes of four Democratic congressmen, the governor and a gaggle of former chairmen, this source says.

"At Saturday's meeting, the talk was going around that if Chip won, Lincoln was out. Suddenly, boom, the announcement comes this week. The timing of it really got my attention. It feels like a 'fuck you Chip Forrester' to me. It has that feel. Lincoln was probably not going to run anyway, but Chip's election sealed the deal."

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Forrester's perceived weakness as a fund-raiser was part of the calculation, the source says. Statewide candidates count on the party to raise enough money to run coordinated get-out-the-vote drives. But it was also ideological. More from our source:

"This is a tough state for a Democrat anyway. If you've got a party chair out there on the extreme left who seems to want to push the party to the left, that doesn't help."

We talked to other party insiders who discount the Forrester factor. They say Davis' Appropriations Committee appointment is the main reason he's not running. That's the reason Davis gave in his statement last night. Not only can Davis land pork-barrel projects for his district, he can leverage his position for loads of campaign cash. That takes a lot of the drudgery out of the job.

"My advice to him was always, 'You don't want to make the same mistake Bob Clement made,' " one source says. "Bob loved being in Congress, and he'd be happy there now," but he ran for the Senate in 2002 and lost to Lamar Alexander.

"It is absolutely the right decision for Lincoln," this source says. "As politicians often don't do, he kept his head and made a good solid decision."

Another insider says, "Lincoln said to himself, 'I'm 65 years old. Do I really want to run for governor against a bunch of millionaires, potentially within my own primary? I've got this nice job for life now possibly, if I want it. So why screw that up?' "

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