Nov 8 2012
12:51 am

Between Gloria Johnson's victory and the dominant showing by Obama, I should be happy. But I'm not.

I'm grateful and thankful to and for Randy Neal, Troy Goodale, and Anthony Hancock. But all politics is local politics and to hell with this "Well, you know, we tried real hard and did the best we could and blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda ,yadda." We lost and we could have done better. I'm emotionally drained and physically tired. My heart went out to Troy who tragically lost a dear friend in the midst of the election. Sometimes the connections one makes during the course of these elections boil down to "this is a decent guy" or "this guy's an asshole/idiot/hack/etc." In the sense that I felt strongly that the candidates I supported and interacted with were truly good people, this election was a success. In the sense that I could have, or the candidates reasonably could have done something to change the outcome of their respective races, I will go to sleep knowing that they went down the way they were going to go down this time.

Yet when it comes to the big picture, the abstract question as to whether or not these races are winnable I'll sleep with nagging doubts about how Democrats are going to take back political offices if we don't even take ourselves and our own seriously. I hope Anthony and Troy run again. I would love to break down these numbers and work on a comprehensive strategy for winning in 2014. But they'll need support from the party and coverage in the press. Press will follow newsworthy events, particularly if there is free food for the reporters. The party is the question mark.

This area won big with Gloria. We need her leadership, both at home and in Nashville. But if we view it as a victory rather than a foothold, we're not doing her nor the citizens the justice they deserve. We need to break down results, find out what we did right and wrong and come up with a strategy to get the candidates to the people and a strategy to raise money. We must come up with new models if the old ones aren't working. I think we had the right folks running, we just ran out of time as the ideas were beginning to take form. And I think we should get to work on 2014.

Pam Strickland's picture

So you think media make

So you think media make decisions on what to cover based on whether or not reporters can get free food? Maybe, maybe, the Daily Beacon, but not any where else. Fir one thing it's unethical to accept that free food. For another if the event has no news value, they've wasted their time. Not good in these days of small staffs.

fischbobber's picture

Feel free

Feel Free to hop on over to the sports department and tell them to quit eating in the press box. Or try going to the Duncan picnic and playing food cop for journalists at the buffet line. Or on the press bus for a presidential campaign.

Andy Axel's picture

Well, if that's her only

Well, if that's her only takeaway from what you wrote, it's a beautiful illustration of "willfully missing the point," which I take as your larger point.

Pam Strickland's picture

It wasn't my only take away,

It wasn't my only take away, but it was the one that ticked me off. I've been involved in two conversations today. One on Facebook with a former member of the exec comm of the stat Dem Party and one on Twitter with the Editor in Chief of the National Journal. The latter was about journalism ethics and responsibilities. In the middle of it, he thanked me for teaching him how to do it right back when he started. It's different on a campaign plane because the media outlet reimburses the campaign for travel expenses. But otherwise, reporters shouldn't be taking free food from sources, and that includes the press box at the damn football game.

And my old high school friend who used to be on the State Dem Exec Comm, he's got worse things to say about Chip and the gang than I do because he's seen 'em up close. But I think it's more than media that they've got to worry about. Statewide they have to do some serious candidate recruitment and they have to do even more fund raising. And the Nadhville people have to get out of the damned office and work the supporters, what's left of the framework of the party. Chip's messed things up so bad that people would rather be independents or some fringe party than be a Democrat in this state.

It's going to be very hard for whoever takes over the Dem Party come January, very hard. But it can be done.

Beale Street's picture

"This area won big with

"This area won big with Gloria."

You do realize that even if all the Democrats stay home the R's have a quorum? It was a win that doesn't matter.

Treehouse's picture

It's not that it doesn't matter

It's that Gloria is going to have a tough time having her voice heard over the supermajority. We need to make sure she gets our support and we help her to have her voice heard.

fischbobber's picture


For a variety of reasons i think Gloria has an outstanding shot at being heard, not only by her home district, but by voters throughout the state. She may well end up being our Obi-Wan.

R. Neal's picture

Unfortunately, no Democrats

Unfortunately, no Democrats are likely to be heard in the next General Assembly. They can basically send every bill directly to a vote without any debate or other formalities. It should be very efficient.

fischbobber's picture

The debate

The debate forum will be in the media, not the house floor. The parents of the children who suffer needlessly and in some cases die weren't paying attention to floor debates anyway. Nor was anyone else. The advantage of being in the superminority is that all debate will have to be taken directly to the citizenry. The more newsworthy, i.e. the more interest any given issue generates, the more newspapers sell, and the more advertising dollars get spent.

Steve Ray, an old Cedar Bluff childhood friend of mine had a gig at the Journal for a while. One night , over a beer, he told me, "Bob, if you want your story on the front page of the Knoxville Journal, you need to put the word 'bludgeon' in your lead sentence." If the Democrats are to get press, and they should, they need to think about Steve's advice and frame their responses accordingly. If the moderate Republicans don't retake control of their party, the legislature will soon be back up for grabs.

It may well prove to be an interesting time to fight for what's right in our state.

reform4's picture

We need a personal story

Ideally, we need to find someone living in Knoxville area that used to live in a city that had a failed voucher program (Philadelphia, etc). When the topic comes up, they could give an interview of their experience.

And Gloria needs to hit up the Sunday talk shows (filmed Thursday) hard. I'll help pay her gas money to drive back just for the filmings if need be.

The word of the downside has to get out. And we have to reach out to the parents of kids with learning difficulties, parents from both sides of the aisle. Republican parents with kids have a lot to lose here as well, and it could be a turning issue for some of them.

fischbobber's picture

I would submit

I would submit that we need a multifaceted ongoing message that lends itself to sound bites and short quotes. This is in addition to a broad based intellectual argument that is well reasoned and stands on its own merits.

The personal story angle is a good idea, but unless its part of a larger strategy, it will likely be quickly forgotten.

peixao's picture


So what's most important to try to slow down, school vouchers? I forget what's at the top of the Republican agenda for this state.

Andy Axel's picture

Republican Agenda

1. Guns
2. SJR127
3. Profit!

Min's picture


Sen. Kelsey has been singing that song since before the last legislative session and was only stopped, because the Governor stepped in with a "study committee". I can't see him doing that again.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Exactly, Randy.

Don't get me wrong--I'm immensely pleased Gloria will represent us--but I'd don't expect Great Things from her or from any of this smattering of Dems left in the legislature.

I see all these remaining Dems as just "placeholders" we need to have in Nashville until such time as we're able to send them the volume of "backup" they'll need to actually get some things done.

(This with absolutely no offense intended to any of our new or existing Dems headed back to the hill come January.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


So what's most important to try to slow down, school vouchers?

I think stopping school vouchers is the top priority.

I don't think that due to my personal interest in public education so much as I think that due to the fact that funding for public ed consumes nearly half the state budget.

That's a lotta dough to reroute into private pockets.

Somebody's picture

Keeping the Legislature from

Keeping the Legislature from blocking the Medicaid expansion is the most immediate issue. Without the expansion, many of the poorest folks in the state won't see the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals and the medical establishment are undoubtedly telling the Governor that they want and need the expansion. This is the piece of the Act that will dramatically help their bottom line by insuring patients that hospitals would normally have to pay for when they show up in the ER. If I recall correctly, the expansion is completely funded by the feds for the first few years, and then mostly funded by the feds after that. By that time the state will be seeing the savings that result from more people receiving healthcare in a managed and more cost-effective environment.

The question will be whether there are enough myopic wing-nuts in the legislature to make a majority in support of wasting money to make a political point.

Andy Axel's picture

The question will be whether

The question will be whether there are enough myopic wing-nuts in the legislature to make a majority in support of wasting money to make a political point.

Giving odds on this one?

Rachel's picture


It depends somewhat on what Haslam decides to do. There's a VERY big case to be made for taking the Federal $$, fergawsdsake, and Haslam knows it. IF he decides to push it, and IF he explains it effectively enought (to the public as well as to the legislature), it MIGHT change something.

EDIT: (link...)

fischbobber's picture

The nail on the head

You hit it square on.

Haslam knows this as well, which is why he's been hemming and hawing around the issue. DeJarlais knows it too and I'm curious as to what he's been selling to his constituents to replace Obamacare. There is a reason Frist is now on board with Obamacare and I'd look for Corker and Alexander to soften their stance. Tennessee can't afford to opt out, and all these guys know it.

R. Neal's picture

Priorities I'd like to see

Priorities I'd like to see are:

1. Enact Medicaid expansion

2. Enact insurance exchange*

3. Stop vouchers, rein in charters

None of that is likely to happen.

(*or maybe not, we might be better off in the federal exchange.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I think the Medicaid expansion is exceedingly important, too, but I still wouldn't prioritize it as being more important than thwarting school vouchers.

If a school voucher program is enacted next session and families taking them u, our public schools will need a huge inp on the offer walk with those dollars, a huge infusion of dollars will be needed for public schools (to cover their fixed costs AND the pricier student demographic they'll need to serve) by just Year Two following its enactment.

Even the Repubs skeptical of school vouchers are likely to point this out to their peers, effectively giving all Repubs a pretty good rationale as to why they can't afford a concurrent Medicaid expansion.

Somebody's picture

It's a timing thing

The Medicaid expansion decision has to be made very soon. There are timeline requirements on that decision as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. As such, it is more important to address that issue now. The Medicaid decision is looming. The legislature will fiddle around all year with education vouchers and other things, long after the Medicaid decision has been made.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I guess we need to know how the additional cost of any Medicaid expansion would compare to the additional cost of this infusion public ed would need following enactment of vouchers.

This pie chart (page A6 at the beginning of the doc, I think it was) indicates that presently Health & Social Services consumes 23 cents of every tax dollar, while education consumes 45 cents.

(Yeah, I realize that the legislature wouldn't be required to infuse public ed with more $$$, that they could starve it dead, but they'd have to, they'd just have to, and very soonafter.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Wow, thanks Somebody and Rachel. I hadn't realized we had this deadline concerning a state exchange looming "next week," per that Humphrey column.

(Dunno how you understood my post made at 1:36?! Looks like I made some last minute edit a tad too hastily!)

Somebody's picture

The Medicaid expansion and

The Medicaid expansion and the exchange are two separate but related issues. The exchange is an insurance "market" from which individuals may purchase insurance. If the state chooses not to administer it, the Feds will do it for them.

The Medicaid expansion would add Medicaid funding so lots of currently ineligible poor people could become eligible to get coverage they can't currently afford. The ACA originally mandated that states take the extra funding and add the extra people to the rolls. The Supreme Court invalidated that part of the law, letting states decide to take it or leave it. They should just take it, but Tea Partiers will see it as the one part of Obamacare that they can still kill.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, I had understood these particulars, but I had no idea as to the timeframe in which states were to be make these decisions.

Really, I began losing track after I tried to actually read the 1,100 page HR 3200 (which was not even the rendition of the Act we actually got) and my command of the details has slid downhill ever since...

Mark Harmon's picture

The unseen potential for good work by Gloria

Let's remember that when the tea-party wing and the country club wing split, it's likely the latter may need help from the remaining Democrats. That's when someone like Gloria--with good communication skills, patience, and a keen grasp of issues--can forge plans that salvage some good ideas and fend off the worst ones.

She also can and will do good constituent service, and keep us posted on what is happening. I know what it means to be on the opposite side of a government body headed in a strange direction. One needn't be forlorn. It is better to be there than not, and often surprising opportunities arise.

fischbobber's picture

You got it


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Let's remember that when the tea-party wing and the country club wing split, it's likely the latter may need help from the remaining Democrats. That's when someone like Gloria--with good communication skills, patience, and a keen grasp of issues--can forge plans that salvage some good ideas and fend off the worst ones.

Thanks, Mark. I needed that. :-)

And you're right, of course, that if anybody can build a coalition, Glo can do it.

Most recently, she's done just that in her campaign.

marytheprez's picture

I personally agree with all

I personally agree with all of you who see that the most important issue for our Governor to address when his GOP Legislature convines is adding the thousands of eligible Tennesseans to our TennCare rolls. It will add huge amounts to our Treasury, the medical community is all for it, including the Hospitals Association. BUT, wait. I saw a quote from Mr. Haslam, on the back page of the 'business section' last week. He was asked what his decision was going to be on adding to TennCare. His response was something like..."I am waiting to see if Governor Romney wins. If he wins, then I will be able to work toward REPEAL of Obamacare! This is a comment straight from the TEA PARTY playbook of governance. So who will influence his decision? BC/BS, Cariten, Humana Insurance, doctors like DesJarlais?

fischbobber's picture

A thought on vouchers

Does Webb School or Baylor, or McCallie or BGA, or GPS or Saint Cecelia's or Knox Catholic high schools really want vouchers?

In no way, shape, size or form do I endorse charter schools, but I'm not sure the truly wealthy in this state do either. Charter schools hurt private schools as much, if not more, than they do public schools.

Charter schools ostensively bill themselves as a means for the riff-raff to have access to a quality education, but what they really do is allow the wealthy, trashy, ignorant folks who now have no voice at top-notch schools, a means to lower education standards across the board with their new found welfare status.

I'm curious to see whether or not the rich will indeed sacrifice their own children to maintain a status quo for businessmen masquerading as educators.

underthebusdem's picture

knox county dems for Michael Dukakis

In terms of real vote democratic performance county wide, nearly 11,000 fewer people voted for the Democratic ticket this time around. The last time fewer people voted for the democratic presidential candidate in knox county was in 1988. Parties are built in presidential election years. 1992 saw a few hundred more voters than this year. But what that means is in knox county, party development just slid backwards somewhere between 20 and 24 years.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


TN Progressive

TN Politics

Knox TN Today

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Search and Archives