Dec 11 2012
01:20 pm

In a candid interview with The Nashville City Paper, Phil Bredesen reflects on his tenure as governor, his legacy, and the state of the party...

City Paper: You had eight years in the governor’s chair, and certainly the party was stronger, at least on an electoral level, at that time.

Bredesen: Um-hum.

Do you wish you’d left it in a little stronger shape?

I mean, remember the party apparatus is just not that big of a deal in electing people. You know, I illustrated that one day by saying, ‘Look I’m the sitting governor of a state. I just won my second re-election as governor, and I could not tell you to save my life who the party chair is in Davidson County or the party chair is in Robertson County or something like that.

Ninety five county chairs, and he couldn't name a one of them, including Gray Sasser (who was DCDP chair at the time)? If this is the way that you dance with the ones who brung you, it's little wonder why there's not an effective state-wide organization left.

I'm sure there are 95 county chairs that are shocked to the core to hear you admit this, Governor.

Read the whole thing. Lots of interesting tidbits, including some insight into the Haslam administration's consultative process vis-a-vis the Affordable Care Act.

LeftWingCracker's picture

Preach it!

Phil Bredesen did more to destroy the Tennessee Democratic Party and all that it stood for than any other living human being. He sucked the very life out of it, then undermined those who sought to restore it as more than just warmed-over Blue-Dogism.

R. Neal's picture

On economic development

On economic development incentives: "I’ve talked about this for probably a decade-and-a-half now to say if there were some understanding or constitutional prohibition or something like that nationwide that cities couldn’t do that or states couldn’t, that would be great, OK. In the meantime, there isn’t."

Agree with that, and have said as much many times. As long as one city/state is doing it everybody has to. If everybody would just stop that money could go to education and infrastructure and etc. and we could compete on that and other things like the weather and football teams.

As for the party stuff, he never seemed all that involved in it. I guess this proves it on the record. Seems like the highest elected official in the state should lead their party.

Andy Axel's picture

Seems like the highest

Seems like the highest elected official in the state should lead their party.

His idea of that was to have the entire state organization fired when the incumbents delivered him his first victory. Normally, people like TNDP Executive Director Barbara Kelly and 2001-2002 TNDP Chair Bill Farmer - who worked 12 hour days for months to elect Bredesen - would have been rewarded with high-level appointments. Randy Button and an entirely new cast of characters came in to turn TNDP into a Bredesen-specific re-elect committee. And now he has the temerity to say that "no man is an island, except maybe me [laughs]" when it comes to his success in 2006.

This doesn't even scratch his double-dealings on policy. The TN AFL-CIO, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2001 on the Bredesen campaign, appears to be rewarded as AFL State Chair Jim Neely lands in the Commissioner's seat at Labor and Workforce Development. Then state labor gets handed the Bredesen-crafted 2004 Workman's Comp bill, as business-friendly a piece of legislation as has ever been laughingly described as "Workman's Comp." Working men & women across the state are still feeling the burn. In terms of investment versus reward, state labor organizations would rightly call this exchange getting a flaming bag of crap on their doorstep as repayment.

So the state party who worked their asses off (only to be fired) and state labor who invested heavily in his first election (only to get screwed in a big way) are being regaled with folksy, self-serving, delusional tales of "I did it my way" as an afterthought. Give me a break, Sinatra.

Somebody's picture


I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.

Andy Axel's picture


Cute, but Rogers' homespun wisecrack hardly constitutes an excuse on Bredesen's part.

Average Guy's picture

Rogers was right

Democrats rally around issues, which will always keep them a scattered herd.

Republicans go to rallies* and make up their own issues, which reduces, but strengthens their herd.

* church, chamber, NRA, etc

Andy Axel's picture

Right, well, leaders lead. I

Right, well, leaders lead. I don't see much of a leadership quality in saying, "I basically re-elected myself." Rather, it's utter horseshit.

You know one thing that Randy Button could do well? Raise money. You know what he didn't do well? Maintain a statewide infrastructure.

That's the guy that Bredesen chose to put in charge at a critical juncture.

It's a not-so-minor aspect of any organization, but it's telling to have seen the state of the TNDP's IT/IS infrastructure at the time that Button came along. I wonder if it has improved much or at all since then. (State voter files in the process of being imported into Visual FoxPro 5, at least the ones that weren't on coffee-stained napkins.) Judging by the quality of the website, my guess is "barely keeping pace."

Teacher's picture

Really a Republican

Phil Bredesen was really a Republican, he just ran as a Democrat. One way he destroyed Metro Schools was by making it so that you did not have to live in Metro to work for Metro government. Now you are hard pressed to find a teacher or other Metro workers that live in the city. As a result, their children are not part of the MNPS pool. They also shop in the counties they live in taking Metro revenue they make and spending it in those counties.

underthebusdem's picture

Im just wondering exactly how

Im just wondering exactly how these residency requirements work. So do you have to hold the residence to even get an interview? What about all the other businesses, many of whom who get tax breaks for their businesses to be inside of the nashville area, shouldnt those people have to live inside of nashville, too. Are teachers really metro government employees? Teachers in other parts of the state are not municipal or county government employees. Well done on bashing Bredesen, but this doesnt hold water.

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