Anyway, it appears the local party’s internal strife between two or more divided factions – the hard left wing vs. the moderate/conservative wing – or the new guard vs. the old guard also exists at the state level. Garrison is the candidate of the liberal left (the new guard), purportedly seeking what some have essentially labeled a “third term” for outgoing chair Chip Forrester. In contrast, Herron is the champion of the moderates/conservatives (the old guard), who envision a recurrence of the good old days when Democrats actually controlled both houses and the governor’s office.

It occurs to me that what Democrats do not need at this point is simply more of the same. We just cannot afford it, especially after losing the governor’s office in 2010, after losing both houses of the General Assembly in 2010, losing 27 seats in the last two elections alone, after losing long-held Congressional seats to the GOP, after being hammered by the GOP nominee in presidential contests in both ‘08 and ‘12, and presented with no serious challengers on the horizon willing or able to confront Haslam, Alexander or Corker.

For all of this, perhaps selecting someone who has actually ran a race and been part of a Democratic majority would really be a good thing. Herron was a legislator for 26 years, always on the majority’s side. Herron is the only candidate who has spent serious time on Capitol Hill, having won five terms in the House and four in the Senate. Certainly, Herron knows the campaign process, the legislative process, and he knows Democrats, because he was an integral part of all of it for a very long time. Importantly, despite all of his years as a legislator, he recently discovered what it feels like to lose. And that’s not a bad thing. He knows how ineffective and irrelevant the TNDP is at this point in many areas across the state.

Garrison talks about how unimportant running a campaign is, about how he can build coalitions, and about how he can bring in a “fresh perspective.” But being the state party chair is like running a perpetual campaign. And if Garrison could “build coalitions,” why didn’t he do that as part of Forrester’s team as party treasurer? And a fresh perspective is what Forrester talked about in 2009. We don’t need a fresh perspective on how to lose, we’ve already discovered how to do that over the past four years.

Instead, we need someone: (1) who has won, (2) who has battled Republicans in the trenches, (3) who can appeal to disenchanted Democrats, former Democrats and rural Democrats, and finally, (4) who can tell prospective candidates, “I’ve ran a successful campaign, I’ve knocked on doors asking voters to support me, I’ve served in the legislature, I've defended my votes, I've fought the best the GOP has had to offer and I've won, and I know what I’m asking you to do because I’ve done it myself.”

One Knox County Executive Committee member already lined up to support Garrison suggests that he deserves her vote because “[Garrison] was here in good times and bad times.” Uh, well, Herron was not only here for a long time during the good times but he also lost an opportunity to go to Washington DC in the recent bad times. My guess is, Herron knows exactly what was “going right” in the good years and he saw very clearly what “went wrong” in the bad.

To be sure, Herron has been attacked for various positions he’s taken in the past, particularly concerning guns and abortion rights. He’s an NRA member, and a couple of his votes on gun-related bills rankle some. But many Tennessee Democrats, especially rural Democrats like Herron, are gun-toters. And if we decide as a party to write-off gun-enthusiasts or even card-carrying NRA members, then we’re doomed for electoral disaster. Democrats own guns. His religious beliefs also make him unapologetically anti-abortion, yet he voted repeatedly against any movements to insert anti-abortion language into the state Constitution. And while this may disturb many Democrats, it’s also the position taken by our own Vice President, Joe Biden.

What’s more, the chair of the Party isn’t responsible for establishing an official gun policy, or for that matter, to be dictating the Party’s platform about abortion rights or anything else. The chair is there to recruit candidates and to give Democratic candidates across the state the tools they need to win and to help elect Democrats to office. Frankly, our party has failed miserably in doing that over the past four years. And while Dave Garrison seems like a nice enough fellow, he promises more of the same failures endured by Democrats over those years, or, as one commentator aptly put it, “crushing, unparalleled, unmitigated failures.”

The next chair of Tennessee Democrats needs to figure out a way to lure moderates back into the Democratic fold. Until that happens, we'll always be the minority party, and we'll never win back either house, much less the governor's office or US Senate seats. Sure, it's a hard proposition for Tennessee liberals to compromise on certain issues near and dear to them, but we'll never be able to have any impact on those issues as long as we're Tennessee's political bottom-feeders.

In fact, perhaps Herron is the very voice Tennessee Democrats need right now to lure those disaffected Democrats back into the fold: like the gun-toters who have been lead by the GOP to believe there’s no place for them in the Democratic Party (our chair’s an avid hunter and NRA member), or like the folks who have been lead by the GOP to think the Democratic Party is the anti-God party (our chair wrote a book about God and politics, and like th

e rural Democrats such as those who repeatedly elected and re-elected Herron to office for 26 years. And I know him personally to be as hard a worker as anyone.

In the end, I’m probably as liberal as anyone posting on Knoxviews, likely moreso. But the party chair doesn’t have to be as liberal as you or I. What we need is a chair who’ll do what’s necessary to elect Democrats, not be guided by a personal or unrealistic idealogical agenda. Herron gets it. He’s the best choice, and I sure hope he gets his chance.

Local Citizen's picture

Need to win!!!!

The Democratic Party in Tennessee must realize that the voters in this state are not liberal-leaning. The party must appeal to everyone and welcome all voters and candidates without a litmus test. Roy Herron can rebuilt the party. The
vote for state chairman will determine if the party is serious about winning elections in this state.

LeftWingCracker's picture

Herron would be revisiting a past that no longer exists.


I think that you and I define "moderate" very differently.

Roy voted for Guns in Bars and Guns in Parks, for heaven's sakes. I think that's nuts and I am a gun-owning Democrat. We are NOT going to get the good-ole-boy vote back now or in the future, and if we appeal to those folks, we will continue to lose.

Roy is a nice guy, I bear him no animus, but BlueDogism is a road to perpetual defeat because those folks aren't coming back. Why? Because Ned McWherter is no longer with us and we had the audacity to nominate and elect (TWICE, even) a black man for President.

We need to get younger, more active people in our party, and it won't happen if we go for someone who is chasing votes we have lost forever.

Garrison wasn't my first choice, either; Wade Munday was my choice. However, he's out and he is with Garrison, so I am asking my friends who have a vote to vote for the future, not the past.

WhitesCreek's picture

I'm not so much FOR Herron as AGAINST Garrison

Garrison is Chip Forrester's boy. Chip has been campaigning for him on company time, bad enough, but Garrison has been Treasurer and has refused to conduct the finance audit required by the charter...For the last four years. This in spite of the fact that independent funds were raised to conduct the audit.

Yes, Roy is a throw back, but Garrison is a throw UP.

knoxrebel's picture

We may very well define alot

We may very well define alot of things differently, but the one thing that cannot be disputed by any reasonable person is that we cannot continue on the track Forrester put us on. He was an utter and absolute failure when it comes to the one thing that determines success in politics: winning. If Garrison is inclined to continue down the track Forrester lead us to (and everything I have heard indicates that's the case), then he is not the person for the job. I have waited and watched for anything coming out of his camp to suggest he has developed a different plan, and there is none.

You may think guns in bars is nuts, and I certainly agree with you, but that's looking at a single issue that Herron would have absolutely no control over as a party chair. I don't give a rat's hind end about that vote . . . if he can help get things straightened out with the party. If we quibble about such things as this, and draw a line in the sand, we're doomed. Herron, not Garrison, will do whatever we have to do to regain our footing. How many more voters do we have to lose, how many more seats do we have to lose, how many more embarrassments do we have to suffer through before we decide to blow this thing up and start over? We can't get 10% of the voters back by drawing that line for them, that's how we lost them. Can Herron do better? I think so, but he won't do worse. We won't wind up in a deeper hole than we're in now. But Garrison can do worse and we might very well wind up in a hole we can't climb out of for another 20 years.

You want to repeal all the bad laws the GOP will be passing over the next few years? Then let's take back control of the General Assembly and get competitive again on a statewide level. We can't do that by marking ourselves as the liberal party or by attempting to be GOP lite. Democrats have their own identity in this state. They always have. We have to re-teach that. And back when everyone realized what that identity was, we elected Democrats governor, senators, to congress, controlled both houses, controlled the election commissions, and the appellate judiciary. Bredesen, Naifeh, Wilder, McWherter, Gore, Gordon, Tanner, etc. None of those guys were left-leaning, but we got some good laws passed by Democratic legislatures and Democratic governors, and the GOP was not running rough-shod over Tennessee voters enacting laws to keep Democrats from voting and trampling on other rights.

Tennessee has never been a liberal bastion. It never will be. But it has been a Democrat-controlled state and it can be again, but not with the likes of Dave Garrison.

Andy Axel's picture

the one thing that cannot be

the one thing that cannot be disputed by any reasonable person is that we cannot continue on the track Forrester put us on.

Hell, I'll bite. Why do Bob Tuke and Gray Sasser not bear any responsibility for the "track" we're on?

Senate lost on Tuke's watch (2007). House lost on Sasser's watch (2009).


knoxrebel's picture

Forrester's watch

Sure, we lost the Senate under Tuke and the House under Sasser, and responsibility for those losses can easily be placed at their respective feet, but neither can be held responsible for the parade of horribles that have occurred on Forrester's watch:

1. Permitting the nomination of "America's worst candidate" Mark Clayton,to represent Tennessee Democrats for the seat once held by Andrew Jackson, Estes Kefauver and Al Gore, resulting in a national embarrassment and Tennessee Democrats becoming fodder for late-night jokes.

2. Permitting the GOP to increase their margins of control from mere majorities to Super Majorities in the Senate and the House.

3. Losing the Presidential election by nearly 20 points, a bigger margin than the 15-point loss to McCain in 2008.

4. Turning Kerry's 2004 terrible-enough defeat in Tennessee by 347,898 votes and Pres. Obama's 2008 bad loss by 391,741 votes into a disastrous 2012 loss by 501,621.

5. Losing Al Gore's old seat by a 35-point margin in '12 after Harold Ford's close race for that seat in '06.

6. Turning a gubernatorial win by Bredesen in '06 by 706,638 votes into an embarrassing loss by McWherter by over 500,000 votes, a 1.2 million vote swing.

7. Losing Lincoln Davis' seat in the 4th to a scandal-plagued moron by over 30,000 votes just 2 years after Davis had defeated his GOP opponent by over 50,000 votes, an 80,000 vote swing.

8. Turning a 128,000 vote win by Bart Gordon in '08 in the 6th into a 72,000 vote loss just 2 years later.

Was Forrester to blame for these disasters? It was his regime. He was responsible for recruiting candidates, for the party's message, for the GOTV effort, for the grassroots strategy, and for raising money to do all of these things.

I'm not going to quibble with you about who is responsible for what, but whoever's the chair when something bad happens has to accept responsibility for it, just as he or she may rightly accept the accolades when something good happens under their watch.

Andy Axel's picture

Was Forrester to blame for

Was Forrester to blame for these disasters? It was his regime. He was responsible for recruiting candidates, for the party's message, for the GOTV effort, for the grassroots strategy, and for raising money to do all of these things.

Not so fast:

Prominent Tennessee Democrats are setting up a fundraising apparatus that will be separate from state party operations.

Gov. Phil Bredesen says he hosted a meeting last week with four of the state’s five Democratic congressmen and several prominent fundraisers to discuss the changes.

It was agreed to have the party led by Chairman Chip Forrester handle grass roots organizing and communications, while the separate entity will be responsible for fundraising and candidate recruitment.

Relations among state Democrats have been frayed since Forrester was elected party chairman in January, despite opposition from Bredesen and most of the Democratic congressional delegation.


knoxrebel's picture

But alas . . .

Of course I recall this, but I'm not certain if it ever had legs. In fact, I've been in the room when Forrester called to recruit a potential candidate in 2010 and 2012. In fact, in August and September 2012, he was trying to recruit a "write-in" stand-in for Clayton and I was in the room and on the phone for those calls as well. So, not so sure to what extent this so-called agreement was ever adhered to.

As for fundraising, from 2009 to 2012, Forrester personally crafted fundraising letters and pitches signed by him and mailed out to me and other Democrats who had previously contributed. Can you identify the "separate entity"? I can't and while I recall the meeting and the discussions, I was not aware that it was ever implemented. However, I do know that Forrester took credit for some fundraising success in 2009 and 2010, that's a matter of public record. So, unless you have some inside dope that I'm not aware of (and you very well may) it appears this concept just never took off.

bizgrrl's picture

Why isn't Wade Munday in the

Why isn't Wade Munday in the finals?

knoxrebel's picture

Wade was interested, and even

Wade was interested, and even announced, but he couldn't get enough votes to get in the mix, so he apparently cut a deal with Garrison to support him in return for Garrison's support to make Wade the party's new treasurer. With 5 candidates in the race, anybody with double-digit support was a player, but when the candidates began withdrawing, Wade saw the writing on the wall and made the best of it. He's a bright guy and did a good job as media guy under Gray Sasser.

Underthebusdem's picture

Missing: 126,000 voters by: Chip Forrester and the TNDP

More of the same, more of the same, more of the same no matter which way you slice it.

Knox County Democratic Performance Results for 7 presidential election cycles:

This is so your eyes won't glaze over and accuse me of some nefarious activity:

Year...Votes (+,-)Change from previous presidential election

1992...59,702 + 9873
1996...61,158 + 1456
2000...60,969 - 189
2004...66,013 + 5044
2008...70,215 + 4202
2012...59,399 - 10816

Yeah, you read that right. KCDP LOST nearly 11,000 voters over four years. This was the hope and change group who threw anyone who'd ever been involved in politics in Knox county out of the party and then promptly re-elected Chip Forrester! Last time there were FEWER voters for the Democrat for president was 1988. So, either we've got a base of 1992 CLINTON (OMG They're heads are spinning at the name) voters minus the ones thrown out of the party or better still a base of 1988 Dukakis voters plus 9,000 Clintonites. LOL.

Tennessee Democratic Performance Results for 7 presidential election cycles:

Year...Votes (+,-)Change from previous presidential election

1992...933,521 + 253727
1996...909,146 - 24375
2000...981,720 + 72574
2004...1,036,477 + 54757
2008...1,087,437 + 50960
2012...960,709 - 126728

This illustrious party under the leadership of Chip Forrester and the people who elected Chip Forrester, twice, brought you 126,728 voters who left the party in 2012. This party, statewide, is operating with a base somewhere between 1996 and 2000.

Underthebusdem's picture

Their heads, not "they're"

Their heads, not "they're" heads.

LeftWingCracker's picture

And Forrester is not up for re-election, thankfully.

And you are implying that Chip will still be involved in a Garrison administration, right? Not so much, because they know he is a lightning rod.

Again, you seem to imply that all we have to do is pretend the President doesn't exist and it will be 1992 all over again, right? Those days are OVER. Forever.

Tell me how Roy Herron is going to reverse this trend without making us GOP-Lite? Even if he tries, Conservatives will vote Republican from this point forward. Period.

knoxrebel's picture

Forrester's already involved

Forrester's already involved and there isn't even a Garrison administration yet. He's done everything he could to help Garrison. If Garrison thought he was a lightning rod (and I agree that he is), he wouldn't have allowed him to be so much a part of his run for chair.

Uh, we don't have to pretend thatr the President doesn't exist at all. Despite the fact that his campaighn - in three election cycles - pretended that Tennessee did not exist. We have to do this on our own. Just like in Knox County. We can't look to Nashville for help. Nashville cannot look to the national Dems for help. Tennessee, like it or not, will never fit in the package many Democrats want it to put it in. We're a southern state. A fairly conservative one at that. But there are strongholds across the state that we can't give up and former strongholds that we can win back. But we cannot win those back the way we've been trying to do it. It just hasn't worked.

WhitesCreek's picture


you are implying that Chip will still be involved in a Garrison administration

Yes I am. Garrison is not the guy...period. I wish we had an alternative to Herron but we don't. Roy is a good man and I personally like him. I do agree that TNDEM needs to move beyond GOP Lite as fast as possible, and that ain't Roy. But, Garrison failed, no, refused to do his job as Treasurer, so we should promote him?

Why no, actually. But then we have to crash on Roy Herron's head that We must become a Progressive party and offer his recent defeat as proof.

Average Guy's picture

Maybe it's due to my lack of

Maybe it's due to my lack of a partisan bend, but it seems obvious that just as old guard conservatives and Tea Partiers aren't the same thing, neither are Blue Dogs and Progressives.

With this kind of divide, wouldn't it be wise to follow the part of the Party that's winning nationally? Or should a large percentage of TN Dems just accept their leaders will not be on same page as Dem leaders in the rest of the country? At that point, isn't it just about politics - damn the policy?

Would anybody consider the Blue Dog platform to be the future of the Democratic Party?

CE Petro's picture

Tangent: BlueDogs/Progressives

Averageguy, I'm reading your comment and I haven't quite decided if you are being sarcastic or not. (3 days of a nasty sinus headache isn't helping either)

The BlueDogs are dwindling fast (thankfully). In fact, the Blue Dog Caucus (US Congress) has 14 or so members down from 54 members just a few years ago. Interestingly, the Progressive Caucus ranks are swelling.

If the TNDP were to follow national trends neither of these two guys currently remaining on the "ballot" wouldn't be here -- and in all honesty, I don't know much about either of them.

And to Local Citizen: Leave the canard of dems having to appeal to all in the toilet where it belongs. It's a losing proposition.

Average Guy's picture

The BlueDogs are dwindling

The BlueDogs are dwindling fast (thankfully). In fact, the Blue Dog Caucus (US Congress) has 14 or so members down from 54 members just a few years ago.

Yes, because of redistricting and because GOP-lite doesn't work in a time when the run of the mill GOP isn't rightwing enough for part of their base. Tennessee Blue Dogs only appeared at times liberal to moderate because of the State Republican's contrast. This current crop would make the Alexander's and Baker's of world seem like dyed in the wool libs.

Which speaks to a theme of this thread and to Herron. If the TNDP is to elect a Blue Dog to head the Party, what does that say to State progressives? What does that say to young Dems in TN who see the TNDP doubling down on old notions that are losers for the Party on a national level? If State Dem reps needed to go to Washington for assistance on an issue, who's caucus would they appeal to?

The TNDP needed to be taking a long view and doing some serious soul searching upon the exit of Forrester. Instead, the Al Davis mantra of "just win baby" has led to a short term view that focused the attention on an "old" soul. Like 1950's or 60's old.

CE Petro's picture

Thanks Average Guy

If the TNDP is to elect a Blue Dog to head the Party, what does that say to State progressives? What does that say to young Dems in TN who see the TNDP doubling down on old notions that are losers for the Party on a national level? If State Dem reps needed to go to Washington for assistance on an issue, who's caucus would they appeal to?

And all of these very valid questions is exactly why I have refused to get involved with TNDP.

Thanks for clarifying.

Andy Axel's picture

Unimpressed by both.

Unimpressed by both.

knoxrebel's picture

Understood. I would have

Understood. I would have liked to have seen a more diverse group of candidates, but it appears no one wants to take this job on, no matter what the pay. I'd have liked for Kim McMillan to take a run at it.

Andy Axel's picture

From what I understand,

From what I understand, Sherry Jones was dissuaded from doing so. Frankly, I don't blame her. It would have been a suicide run.

reform4's picture

I want a chair that will plan to lose strategically.

Don't like either. We need someone with vision who will lay the groundwork for victory 12-20 years from now.

Listen to talk radio. Talk to people that's listen to talk radio. They aren't ever going to vote for a D because they hate us as human beings. It has nothing to do with policy- we can for guns in bars, while their candidates get caught recording phone calls with their mistresses convincing them to get the same abortion they talked their wife into. And they'll still vote for them.


Demographics change. Right now we are gerrymandered out of legislative influence. But if we had a leadership (not just a chair but a whole leadership level) committed to victory in 2028 and 2032, the future demographics are on our side. The youth vote is pro-gay rights, and generally progressive, but if we don't bring them in NOW, they will be list for another generation.

Been to the Hola Festival? There are a lot of Hispanic people in East TN and growing fast. But their political loyalty can't be taken for granted. We have to work with them and have a message they fits their desires and values. But if we don't work it now, we will lose them for decades.

I want a Chair that has the guts to say "we will probably lose ever major election under my tenure. But, by God, I'm going to leave it do the chair after the next chair can clean house in Tennessee."

I can dream...

knoxrebel's picture


Steve, I think you're dead-on. And I love what you said at the end. I'm not sure either guy has the guts to say that, but this is a long-range plan that has to take shape. I've heard some say that Herron's doing this to use it as a launching pad to run for governor in 2018. Well, if he can get us to where we need to be for us to be compeitive in a gubernatorial election in 6 years, more power to him. But it isn't going to happen. We need a 12 year plan in KNox County and a 12 year plan for the TNDP, and beyond those 12 years, we need still another 10 year plan.

It isn't going to be pretty over the next few years, as we're going to be embarrassed more often than not in statewide races. The first part of any plan will be to identify our strengths, geographically and issue-wise. The second part has to identify those younger voters and future voters who will likely lean toward the left on social issues, and begin a major recruiting/educational effort for them. We need something akin to Young Democrat groups in every county. We have to start marketing to kids who'll be voting in 2-4-6 years and beyond.

Good post, Steve.

Average Guy's picture

Nicely stated

Just because a lot of Democrats left the Party with George Wallace didn't make Wallace's stance right.

And that was just one issue.

The national Party knew then that interracial marriage was inevitable. Same with gay marriage now, this, whether Tennesseans (or the entire South) like it or not.

knoxrebel's picture

You're right, it didn't. But

You're right, it didn't. But therein lies the problem: Tennessee is not idealogically aligned with the national party and never will be. So, do Democrats in Tennessee (1)align themselves with the national party, only to suffer humliating defeats for the next 20 years because the majority of Tennessee voters emphatically reject the national party's platform, or (2) do we do whatever's necessary to gain back control of the legislature, governor's office, judiciary, election commissions, etc. and then attempt to take calculated steps toward a more progresive agenda?

It seems to me if we go with option number 1, all we're doing is begging to be a martyr party, knowing we're right, but dying in defeat having never come close to achieving our long-term goals.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Tennessee is not idealogically aligned with the national party and never will be.

If I thought this I wouldn't be living here.

lonnie's picture

It is disturbing to live in a

It is disturbing to live in a state that is controlled by ignorant Republicans that are mean spirited and make up the immoral majority. There are many states where my ideas would be much more in the mainstream. I cannot talk my family into moving to one of those states and I can't leave my family, so I reckon I am stuck here for life. I will continue to vote for my interests as well as for the interests of most of the ignorant Republicans. I will never vote for a Republican for the rest of my life because of the crazy legislation the governor and legislature have made law. My only hope is the next state Democratic chair and Democrats across the state do everything humanly possible to elect Democratic candidates. It will take a long time for Democrats to gain the majority, but with the changing demographics and the more liberal views of young voters it could happen sooner than we think.


Average Guy's picture

I do understand

Losing sucks. Especially if you know issues you're losing on now, will eventually be winning issues in subsequent decades.

It's unfortunate for TN Democrats to live in a time when their opposition looks to legislate like children, but children are who you've been saddled with. As an example, turning centuries old settled science (evolution) on its ear, simply because they "know" best is dangerous.

It'd be immediately gratifying to take my child's college fund and go to Hawaii for some r&r, but I won't, because that would be irresponsible. It'd be great if I could just be a buddy, not a parent too. I'd be great if i was never "hated" for "destroying" my child's life for daring to say "no".

But, if on the chance some years from now I'm lucky enough to hear a; "Thanks for looking out for me back when", I will feel a level of success.

In other words, somebody has to be the adult.

Rachel's picture

Tennessee is not

Tennessee is not idealogically aligned with the national party and never will be.

Never is a very long time.

reform4's picture


Texas will become a swing state in 12-16 years.

The demographics are against the GOP, long-term, AS LONG as Dems don't take the growing demographic groups for granted, and paying attention to their issues. Nothing will turn around in 2-4 years, but if we don't play the long game, we are in trouble.

lonnie's picture

Texas, if I am not mistaken,

Texas, if I am not mistaken, gave Romney 57% of the vote and Tennessee 59% in the Nov. election.. The demographic trend favors the Democrats in Texas and the shift could come a lot sooner than 12-16 years. Tennessee is also seeing a trend that could help Dems but it will take a longer time frame than Texas and Arizona. Lets keep our fingers crossed for a speedy transition.


Tamara Shepherd's picture

Herron's voting record

It ain't just guns.

Herron voted FOR drug testing for welfare recipients, FOR publication of abortion stats (and requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital privileges), FOR a constitutional amendment to ban an income tax, FOR English-only driver license exams (twice), FOR a legal challenge of the ACA's health insurance mandate, and FOR expanded access to charter schools (by wealthier families).

Read it ---his voting record--and weep.

lonnie's picture

Dang, that is a pretty shitty

Dang, that is a pretty shitty record! There has gotta be a better choice than those two guys.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Dang, that is a pretty shitty record!

I thought so.

If he didn't put a "D" beside his name...

Underthebusdem's picture

Support who you want for chair by...

So, no one I see posting here actually has a vote this weekend for state party chair. That vote is held by approximately 70 people called the state executive committee. Will the state executive committee be responsive to you? That is an entirely different matter all together. But, for good, bad, or indifferent, they are the lucky group who gets to pick the next TNDP chair. Have at it. Call them, email them, mail them, go visit them at their house. I'm sure they'd love that. Anyway, here's their contact info:


If you're new to the process, you have 2 committee members, 1 man and 1 woman. They are elected based on your state senatorial district. And, for those in district 6, you are super special, because you only have to call one number and you reach 2 votes, Harold and Sylvia Woods. Dontcha just love how that works!

For many of these folks, this is about all they do, so make them actually have to listen to you and do some work...ask them what happened to 126,000 voters last year? But, seriously, most of them probably aren't going to read this post. So, I'd call em 7, 8, 20 times or so to check in on them, make sure they actually plan to attend the meeting (some don't see the need) and let them know what you think. Why not? For me, I'l be hanging out under the bus counting to 126,000 to see how long it takes me.

Average Guy's picture

...ask them what happened to

...ask them what happened to 126,000 voters last year?

They voted for change on a national level in '08 and didn't get it, so they stayed home in 2012.

On a State level they saw gerrymandered districts, so they said "what's the point"?

The reasons voters came out in '08 should be more telling for the TNDP than the reason they didn't in '12.

LeftWingCracker's picture

I do that regularly

Meaning I contact the ExecCom. Steve, I understand your frustration and agree that Chip should be sent to Pluto. I just don't think Roy is out for anyone but Roy, and I hate to say that, but while has occasionally voted for progressive issues, he doesn't stress that he is a DEMOCRAT enough.

Knoxrebel, If I thought that we would never become real national Democrats, I would never give another dime or hour of help to anyone but Steve Cohen. I REFUSE to concede this state to conservatives, now or ever more.


PhilK's picture

Old paradigm vs. new paradigm

Quite an inspiring choice!

Old paradigm: Imitate Republicans in every way possible - privatization of Social Security, drug testing for welfare recipients, automatic weapons proficiency requirements for public school teachers, etc.

New paradigm: Skip the imitation and simply run right-wing tea-bagging Republicans (eg. Mark Clayton) as Democrats.

Why worry, since victory surely awaits, either way.

Outsider's picture

Never coming back

Those voters who've left the Democratic Party are not coming back until they hear a compelling reason to do so. Parroting GOPers is not compelling.

Regurgitating Republican talking points and advocating for Republican policy will only exacerbate the problem and prolong a Democratic comeback.

Rather than kowtowing to the unicorn-like moderate/conservative swing voters, Democrats should focus on winning the arguement. Defend Democratic ideals, hold Republicans accountable, and promote progressive solutions.

Rather than adopting their policy book we need to develop and fight for our own so voters can see the difference and make a clear choice.

LeftWingCracker's picture

KnoxRebel is correct about Wade, but Andy has great points too

Especially about the fact that Bredesen went after Forrester hammer-and-tong after Forrester picked Bill Freeman as his Treasurer. Freeman and Bredesen are, well, not fond of each other. When your party's highest-ranking elected official goes after you, it's hard to get anything done.

And let's face it, Phil Bredesen has never gotten anyone elected that wasn't named Phil Bredesen. All of this together made Forrester's time a difficult one, even beyond the problems he brought on himself.

Rachel's picture

This thread and the one about

This thread and the one about the KCDP are exactly the reason I have refused to get involved in party politics.


knoxrebel's picture

And I started both of them .

And I started both of them . . . are you trying to tell me something, Rachel?

Rachel's picture

Nope. Not complaining about

Nope. Not complaining about the threads themselves, but about what they reveal about their subjects.

Like I hadn't already observed that for myself.

Perry Aubric's picture

Herron's a Better Choice

Knoxrebel, you are making many of the same arguments I have been making. Herron is by far the better choice. The fact of the matter is, we don't even need to know what his position is on any particular issue. We need to know that he is a Democrat who is committed to electing Democrats to office, and that he knows how to do it. Garrison has almost bragged that he has never run a campaign. And some people think he would be a good chair? Garrison can sit all day long at the TNDP office and be a pure as the driven snow liberal-thinking Democrat, but that won't put one single Democrat into public office if he doesn't know a damn thing about winning an election. The TNDP has one job and one job only: electing Democrats. Herron has a better chance of helping us do that, and I hope the Executive Committee will elect him.

knoxrebel's picture

I don't buy the "let's get

I don't buy the "let's get behind the devil we don't know" arguments being advanced by some in support of Garrison. First, we know plenty enough about him. That's written above. I'm not against him just because Forrester hand-picked him and is trying to broker deals to him elected. I'm against him for many reasons, not the least of which is he appears not to understand that Forrester's support for him is just further alienating Democrats who might have otherwise support him. I mean, it's like a GOP presidential candidate being advanced by W. That's not politically smart at all, and this job requires politically-sound decisions every day.

Second, Garrison downplays the importance of running political campaigns as a requirement for this gig, yet that's exactly what the chair is supposed to do, i.e., run the campaign for the TNDP to start getting Democrats back on track. Just like a candidate campaign, he'll be in carge of everything (except policy), from fundraising to marketing to organizing to communications, etc. Plus, he has to recruit candidates. At least Herron has ran campaigns and won them, for himself and for others.

Third, while the future of Democrats in Tennessee may be toward a more progressive platform akin to the national party, any success statewide for that platform won't happen for a long while. For the foreseeable future, progressives who refuse to support moderate/conservative statewide/congressional candidates (outside the 9th district) because they do not agree with various social positions they espouse, will wind up hurting the party's chances, not aiding them, and allowing the GOP to more easily run the table. I wish it wasn't so, but it is, and will be, at least for awhile. The far better course for Democrats, all of them, it seems, would be to rally around a single candidate, and help the party regain a foothold.

Progressives won't support Herron. Moderate/Conservatives won't support Garrison. So, any way we look at it, it appears we're headed back down the same road of a severely-divided party, with the best hopes of having pockets of success, but mostly failures, and even embarrassments.

R. Neal's picture

progressives who refuse to

progressives who refuse to support moderate/conservative statewide/congressional candidates (outside the 9th district) because they do not agree with various social positions they espouse, will wind up hurting the party's chances...

Then why have a Democratic party?

(Trying to stay out of this. And I'm actually fairly "moderate" in real life, which makes me a socialist by today's standards.)

knoxrebel's picture

I don't get the question.

I don't get the question. This really isn't rocket science. The critical point is the GOP always rallies around whoever their nominee is, and Democrats haven't done that since 2006. It's basically turned the Democratic Party into two warring parties, neither of which will support the other. When you combine this with the centric-minded Independents, who will almost always steer toward a moderate, a progressive Democrat doesn't have a chance. Nor can progressives or moderates split away and divise a 3rd party. All that will do is solidify the status quo: continued GOP dominance.

Now, if a progressive had a remote chance of getting more than 40% of the statewide vote, the reverse of my statement would be true. It would be the moderate/conservative wing of the party who would be causing the party to suffer. But right now, it's more likely that a moderate candidate would have more success statewide than a Tea Partier on the GOP side or a progressive on the Dem side. Election results show that.

I sympathize with the hard left and wish we were closer to being more progressive as a party (and as a state), but we're not, and any right-minded progressive knows that, just based on election results in Tennessee. It's time we took a pragmatic approach to this dilemma, as the Forrester approach failed miserably.

R. Neal's picture

Forrester had an approach? I

Forrester had an approach?

I don't know. I've said before better to go down swinging than to keep getting beat up rope-a-doping.

We are screwed for a generation. At least with Real Democrats we get a chance to put out a principled message every two years and maybe start getting people to listen so the next generation will have a chance.

R. Neal's picture

...letter from David

knoxrebel's picture

We've already talked about

We've already talked about Garrison's downsides and Herron's downsides, but Briley conveniently omits these other things we've heard about Garrison:

4. He has never ran a political campaign at any level (yet, he will be responsible for the most important campaign in the history of the Tennessee Democratic Party);

5. He does not think experience in political campaigns matters (yet, he will be responsible for hiring a staff to oversee that campaign and assist in the campaigns of Democrats across the state);

6. He has unexplainedly permitted Forrester – a lightning rod of controversy across the Party – to tie himself to a Garrison TNDP regime by refusing to distance himself from him (a decision that says a lot about Garrison’s judgment); and

7. He promised his own position (treasurer) to another chair candidate in exchange for a handful of Executive Committee votes, despite the fact that candidate had no qualifications to handle the party’s funds.

And again, the EC is not electing a President, a Senator, a Congressman, a Governor, a state legislator or even a local legislator, it's electing a party chair. All of Herron's positions on the issues listed by Briley are really of no consequence. He can't cast a vote for anything at any level. What he cn do, and what he has done, is win. Alot. Herron's upsides are his experience as a 9-term Democratic legislator, his experience in running and winning campaigns, his own and others, and his ability to lure non-progressives into the fold. A progressive isn't likely to vote for a GOP candidate of any ilk. But a moderate or conservative voter is more likely to vote GOP because Democrats have been depicted as the party against guns or take your pick on other issues.

Herron's moderate/conservative positions may not be popular with Tennessee progressives,and they're not popular with me either, but the fact is, they are popular with Tennessee voters. Election results demonstrate that. So, maybe, just maybe, Herron can use his record to neutralize some of the GOP attacks on Democrats as being too far outside the mainstream.

If Herron bombs, fails to undo all or most of Forrester's parade of horribles, and fails to make any inroads, he'll face an election in 2 years and the EC can replace him. If Garrison is elected, permitted to carry out Forrester's nut-bag agenda, the TNDP will be set back even worse than it is now. We need to take a step forward, maybe we can do that by supporting a voice from the past; we certainly can't do it by supporting Forrester-lite.

R. Neal's picture

Don, not wanting to get in a

Don, not wanting to get in a debate. I'm trying to stay out of it. We don't even have a functioning Democratic party in Blount Co. and haven't for a while. I'm mostly ambivalent at this point.

Things have gotten so bleak here and across the state that I'd just be happy if we ran some candidates that stood for something remotely close to what I believe in. (Or in Blount Co., any D candidate at all.)

Met Herron at one of the KCDP functions one time and read his book (and some of it makes a little sense). He's nice enough guy and a country preacher who can deliver a rousing (if a little over the top) Come to Jesus speech. And no doubt he's got experience. I'm just a little tired of the GOP-lite approach. And losing in spite of it.

Don't know anything about Garrison (except Madeline endorses him).

Both guys have good people supporting them. Regardless, I'm not thrilled about either candidate, but in the end I'm not sure what difference it makes.

I guess I wonder if we are expecting too much. It's not so much our state party that's broken as it is our state's culture. A new TNDP chair ain't gonna fix that. Most workaday people don't know who that is or why we even have one and couldn't care less.

If winning is the only thing then everyone should just join the Republican Party and try to change it from within. Except the GOP doesn't compromise on anything. And they win. At least in Tennessee, for the time being. Wish Democrats could learn that lesson.

Anyway, good luck to whoever gets the job. They'll need it.

knoxrebel's picture

Randy, you know very well I

Randy, you know very well I respect your opinion. I'm not saying I may not be wrong about Herron and Garrison. I may be as wrong as I was about John Edwards . . . . . And you're right, I'm not thrilled with the two choices either. However, I've been involved in politics since I was under 18, that's 32 years; I've ran campaigns that won, ran campaigns that lost, ran the local party, and ran my own campaign, and the one thing I'm sure of is that we need someone in this job who has some experience with winning and losing campaigns and with candidates. That's Herron.

Will he try to steer the party to the right, with Forrester as the gauge? I'm not sure. But Roy knows that what he has to do is come in with a long-range plan to bring the party faithful together, make sure we don't lose any more moderates/conservatives, bring the progressives into the fold by not excluding them and giving them substantial input into decision-making, reach out to young voters, and start recruiting candidates that won't embarrass us in 2014. If he can't show improvement by 2015, he's done and his political life is over. And he doesn't want that. Can he do worse than Forrester? Who could? Can Garrison? Yes, most assuredly, he can, by sticking to Forrester's idiotic losing game-plan.

No, we've won as Democrats and we can win again. And we can eventually win without compromising our principles, but if we continue to lose by adhering to a hard-line aproach that its either the left way or no way at all, the GOP will obliterate us for a long, long time. We're at a crossroads now and we have to get back in the game.

I'm not being dramatic when I say tomorrow is the most important day Tennessee Democrats have faced in over 6 years. The direction of Democrats for the next 20 years is on the line. If Garrison wins, we're done for a generation. Like Steve Drevik said, we might be looking at 2028-2032 before Democrats can crawl out of this hole, banking on the next generation of voters. But we have to stop the bleeding now, and Garrison - if he sticks to Forrester's tactics, as predicted - will only make us bleed more.

Andy Axel's picture

I'm not being dramatic when I

I'm not being dramatic when I say tomorrow is the most important day Tennessee Democrats have faced in over 6 years.

Yeah, you pretty much are.

The direction of Democrats for the next 20 years is on the line. If Garrison wins, we're done for a generation.

No, that's not dramatic at all. Sheesh.

Fact is, the current spate of Democrats have already lost a generation up to this point, considering that the slide began in earnest in 1996 when Jim Sasser got bounced from his seat despite Clinton carrying the electoral college here, continuing the slide in 2000 when the Tennessee Democratic party couldn't even deliver the home state of the presidential candidate (which was ultimately what allowed the Supreme Court to hand the election to GWB, by the way), continuing by losing the Senate and House majorities for the first time in 7 generations. Seven. One hundred and forty years of institutional, incestuous, single-party rule.

The only reason that this party would be "done for a generation" thanks to the election of a single person is internecine bullshit like these not-so-veiled threats for y'all to take your ball and go home if you don't get your way.

Here's my prediction, for what it's worth: Herron wins this thing in a walk. I honestly don't know what you're so worried about, other than using this squabble as an opportunity to lecture people who've borne the load and bent on their own principles for years that they're not bending over quite sufficiently enough for your liking.

LeftWingCracker's picture

Knoxrebel, we can't afford to take that chance.

Aunt B summed it up in her post today:

The thing that’s most hilarious about this is that the Republicans have redistricted us into a party whose most reliable districts are urban and black. And the white guys all bemoan how the party needs to spend more attention on “outside of Nashville.” Where they hate Democrats. It’s important to realize that these dustups are happening–and more publicly–not because either of these groups of warring white guys has a good idea for what direction to take the party, but because the era of the white dude Democratic party is over. Our parade doesn’t look that way anymore. But at this second, there’s not someone who looks more like the people who actually vote Democratic–black people, women, gay people, young people who live in cities, etc.–who can get the support of the Executive Committee and step up to be Grand Marshall of said parade. So, we have these two factions fighting over who gets to lead a bunch of people who aren’t going to concede parade leadership to them.

THAT'S where the Democratic Party is today. the good ole boys are NEVER coming back, but they ARE dying off, and we have to get younger, more progressive people involved so they will STAY in Tennessee and flip this state back to blue.

LeftWingCracker's picture

Randy, that's about where I am in all of this.

If we have to be GOP-lite to win, then what's the point in even HAVING a Democratic Party?

R. Neal's picture

Forrester's farewell note: As

Forrester's farewell note:

As I come to the end of my four-year term as Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, I cannot help but feel nostalgic and slightly wistful that this ride is coming to an end on Saturday. And what a ride it has been!

My chairmanship winds down this week just as I have returned from a thrilling visit to Washington, D.C. where I participated in the Swearing-In of President Barack Obama for another term. I cannot tell you what pride I felt as I witnessed our President, hand on the Bible, taking the oath of office once again. I was moved to tears listening to his eloquent and impassioned speech in which he described a Democratic vision for what America can and ought to be. And while Tennessee did not post a win for the President, we can all be proud of the work done to help him win in battleground states and the contributions we made to fuel his victory.

As our President begins his second term, my term as Chairman will draw to a close with the election of my successor in the state House Chambers on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Having served longer than any Chairman in modern Tennessee history, there is plenty to reflect on. With the financial investment of donors, large and small, we built the most robust and effective campaign operation in our Party's recent history. Together, we:

• Elected five NEW Democratic state representatives, including Gloria Johnson, Bo Mitchell and Darren Jernigan, all of whom won races in districts drawn by Republicans to favor Republicans;

• Took out an extreme right-wing Republican incumbent; For the first time in years, helped protect every Democratic incumbent in the State House;

• Built a sophisticated voter contact operation that made more than 500,000 door knocks and phone calls;

• Updated and expanded our fundraising database with 21st century technology that will provide for more efficient fundraising for every chairman henceforth;

• Modernized voter targeting with the latest methods for tracking voters and voting patterns, an update that will forever improve phone calls and door-to-door contacts for all Democratic candidates; and

• Invested in message development and delivery that held Republicans accountable online and in the media.

It is true that Tennessee has trended Republican recently, but our slide into this electoral pit was a slow, painful 10-year process. And certainly, it will take us multiple election cycles to regain Democratic majorities that will stand up for working and middle class Tennesseans, rather than the privileged few.

That is why the electoral goals we put in place in 2012 -- to build a more inclusive and unified party, 21st century voter outreach, and a more aggressive defense of our values -- are so important to our future. I am confident that together, remaining true to the values the define us as Tennessee Democrats, we will once again be leading our state.

Many of you have asked what I will be doing after these four years as Chairman. And I must admit, I do not exactly know. I plan on spending some time with my son Evan who lives in China, and when I return stateside, I'll consider my future options.

No matter what, I will continue to be deeply involved in our Party and will support our new chairman in whatever capacity I can be of most value in moving Tennessee forward.

Finally as I end this term, I want to say "Thank You" to those of you who supported us financially, to those who volunteered their time and talents, and to those friends I have made as I traveled all across this state from Mountain City to Memphis for Democratic bean suppers, campaign rallies, fundraising events and just good old Democratic fellowship.

It is because of all of you that I do this. All I ask is that you continue to stay involved, give of your time, talents and treasure and help Tennessee become the bright blue state that its citizens deserve.

May God bless all of you and guide your actions together.

With deep thanks,

Chip Forrester
Tennessee Democratic Party

R. Neal's picture

P.S. I also wanted to thank

P.S. I also wanted to thank KnoxRebel Don for starting this discussion, and also the other one on KCDP, and for everyone's participation. It is a much needed conversation.

I'm a little surprised by the lack of involvement by most (but not all) local Dem "officials," supporters and activists. I guess KnoxViews is too "toxic."

Someone please point me to the local/ET website where such things can be discussed in a clean room environment.

knoxrebel's picture

I'm surprised as well by the

I'm surprised as well by the lack of involvement of local party officials in both discussions and by the lalk of involvement by our state EC members in this one. I eventually challenged Knox County Dems in the other discussion and a couple ultimately stepped up, to their credit. Still, we did some good by letting folks chime in, and like Randy, I really appreciate your time. We've got some smart folks on here, and we don't always agree, but I think our basic goals are near the same.

R. Neal's picture

P.P.S. I also agree 100% with

P.P.S. I also agree 100% with LWC that the TNDP is too Nashville-centric and has been for too long. There's a whole other state outside the bubble.

knoxrebel's picture

That's dead-on, my friend.

That's dead-on, my friend. The world doesn't revolve around the metro limits. But it's been viewed that way by the powers that be for some time. Doug Horne tried to do something about that a few years ago, to no avail. And ET is routinely written-off as GOP territory. I know this from my own tenure. If it's not happening in Shelby or Davisdon, they just don't care. Which is why I made the point in the other discussion that Knox County, like many others, is on its own in turning this thing around, and that's why the county chair is important as well.

R. Neal's picture

P.P.P.S. Janet Meek!

P.P.P.S. Janet Meek!

knoxrebel's picture

Janet = a whirlwind of

Janet = a whirlwind of energy. What she could accomplish with some serious resources . . . .

LeftWingCracker's picture

Amen on Janet Meek

She is terrific!

bizgrrl's picture

We need a do-over

According to Tamara and LWC, Herron voted FOR:
Guns in Bars
Guns in Parks
drug testing for welfare recipients
publication of abortion stats
requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital privileges
a constitutional amendment to ban an income tax
English-only driver license exams (twice)
a legal challenge of the ACA's health insurance mandate
expanded access to charter schools (by wealthier families).

Sounds more like Mark Clayton running for a Democratic seat in the US Senate.

What does matter is that this gets fixed going forward. It's bad enough the party can't recruit credible candidates in this state. Allowing candidates like Clayton on the ballot is even worse.

I just cannot believe this is okay with our representatives of the TNDP.

I think they should vote for a do-over. This is a highly paid position. Surely there is someone better than the two choices to take this position. I believe there were some, but apparently they weren't as well known. Maybe the TNDP representatives need to think a little more out of the box.

knoxrebel's picture

Herron also voted 1. against

Herron also voted

1. against increasing eligibility requirements for the HOPE Scholarship,

2. against Haslam's voter ID law,

3. against increasing contribution limits to campaigns,

4. against a bill that prohibits public elementary and middle schools from providing any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality,

5. against a bill that repeals the Education Professional Negotiations Act, and prohibits any local board of education from negotiating with a professional employees' organization or teachers' union concerning the terms or conditions of professional service,

6. against a bill that implements a performance requirement for teacher tenure, and

7. against a bill to adopt an amendment that limits the amount of money a plaintiff can be awarded in a “medical malpractice lawsuit.

Ideological purity doesn't win elections. Loyalty and unity do. As Democrats, we will never agree with each other on every position, and that's okay. But we must have each other’s back if we expect to push our Democrat agenda forward. I don't mean to say that we can’t disagree, but when push comes to shove, Democrats will only succeed here if we stand together. We all have our own unique mix of issues which are preeminent to us. But for us to succeed, everyone who champions Democrat causes needs to be willing to compromise on an overarching agenda for the Democratic Party as a whole. We can’t conveniently abandon the Party or its candidates whenever we want and expect no repercussions to result.

R. Neal's picture

Don, are you running for

Don, are you running for governor or something?

Anyway, your team scored a touchdown early in the first quarter. You can stop piling on now. Let's check the scoreboard again at half time in 2014.

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