There’s a moment relished by professional wrestling fans, one that never fails to excite.
A villain returns to the ring, a good guy switches sides or the hero makes a triumphant comeback in time to save the day.
Mae Beavers, the state Senate’s conservative stalwart, announced she was abandoning her run for Wilson County mayor to instead focus on re-election to the Senate, meaning she’d be challenging fellow uber-conservative Rep. Susan Lynn — also of Wilson County — for the GOP nomination in the sprawling, nine-county 17th District.
Beavers’ move made very public what was long an open secret: Beavers and Lynn really, really, really don’t like each other. It’s a rivalry that dates back to at least 2004, when Beavers told party officials that Lynn was plotting to take over the Senate seat while Beavers battled breast cancer.
It was a charge, naturally, Lynn denied.
In the six years since then, charges have flown from both sides — whispers in the ears of reporters and Republicans — of one seemingly nefarious deed after another. Their feud was even responsible for the late-night final session of the General Assembly this year, which saw the pair’s competing versions of the Health Freedom Act — a protest measure against the health care reform law — bounced back and forth on Capitol Hill, as neither woman would give an inch.
Predictably, that acrimony rolled right into campaign season. Beavers’ ads accuse Lynn of torpedoing the Heath Freedom Act, of being soft on illegal immigration and — the horror! — of being friendly with Democrats. Lynn’s camp, of course, says the attacks are misleading. At a recent forum sponsored by the Lebanon Democrat, Lynn reminded the audience it takes 50 votes to get things done in the state House, a subtle jab at Beavers “Lynn-is-a-softie” attacks.
The fact is, policy-wise, there isn’t much space between the two. Neither would ever vote for an income tax, both received A-plus ratings from the National Rifle Association. And while the 17th isn’t as red as some analysts would have you believe, the winner of the Republican primary will likely win the Senate spot. And the loser will have an uphill battle to get back into professional politics.