I read this analysis by UT reporter Matt Hall with great interest yesterday and it got me thinking about a conversation I’d had with many people around town in the last year or so. Up until now, everyone said that Mayor Jerry Sanders was invincible come the 2008 election. He still had his honeymoon popularity and hadn’t had a big scandal.

When that has come up, I’ve reminded people that former Mayor Dick Murphy looked invincible in 2003, a year ahead of re-election as well. It’s not necessarily a comment on either one of the two men, but rather a reminder that a lot can happen in a short period of time. (President George W. Bush was also considered an easy lock for 2004 at that time, too, and that election became a nail-biter.)

In 2003, just as he was popularly coasting along, Murphy was hit with a political avalanche. He surprised everybody by saying he wasn’t going to run again. Then he said he would run. Then the Cedar Fire hit. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission and FBI began investigating City Hall.

Now, all of that doesn’t quite compare with an oversized office building yet. But it is Sanders’ first scandal, though.

And, as Hall writes, there is some thought Sunroad has opened a door for Steve Francis, another Republican, and Democrat Donna Frye.

We’re still more than a year away from the November 2008 election.

But remember this: Even with the ongoing investigations and the political meltdown in 2004, Murphy still survived the challenge from a fellow Republican (Ron Roberts) and Frye (all bubble controversies notwithstanding).


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