Every 2 years, local Democrats get together and select new party leaders at a convention. The next convention is in April. Is anyone interested in stepping up and leading the local party?

I've heard that the local party has become irrelevant to local politics, partly because of its own past failings and partly because of the recent power surge of the GOP here and across the state. Maybe it has. I've been well out of the loop for awhile. But it's hard to imagine things could get much worse.

Democrats still have Randy Nichols at the DA's office, Harold Wimberly as a Circuit Court judge, Mary Beth Leibowitz as Criminal Court judge (and of course, Chancellor Daryl Fansler, as someone pointed out below). Well, but not for long. Each of those positions are up next year. Nichols is retiring after what will be 22 years as DA. I have no idea what Mary Beth, Harold, or Daryl plan to do next year. But it may not make much of a difference. The GOP wants all four offices and is salivating for 2014 to get here. And while there are plenty of Democrat lawyers out there who'd like to step into those positions, frankly, it's highly unlikely any Democrat can win a county-wide race next year. So, in the end, by September 2014, for the first time in over a century, there will be no Democrat holding a county-wide elected office in Knox County.

Still, Democrats held onto Harry Tindell's seat. Democrats are well-represented on city council and the mayor's office. But again, the biggest test of all awaits Democrats in the 2014 elections. Can they be competitive?

To be certain, Democrats cannot expect miracles over the next 10 years. No takeover of the Commission, no matter what its size. No retention or takeover of any of the county-wide seats, no matter how many scandals occur in the Trustee's office, etc. So, Democrats may have to think small, for now. Maybe Democrats can get another Democrat or 2 on Commission; or on the non-partisan City Council; or recruit a well-qualified, well-known lawyer with name-recognition, who's not afraid to run as a Democrat for District Attorney, or judge, notwithstanding the overwhelming odds. . . .

Getting good candidates to run for county-wide office as a Democrat will be extremely difficult in the coming years, to be sure. It starts with electing a capable chair of the party and an executive committee that will push that chair's agenda.

Make no mistake, there is some promise in the Democrats' future. There are young Democrats out there with great upsides who are the future of any resurgence of Democrats in Knox County: Leland Price at the DA's Office, lawyer Shelley Breeding (she can move in with us if she needs a Knox County address), one-time candidate and current consultant Cortney Piper and Mark Padgett (no matter what you might think of his first foray into politics as a candidate), to name just a few. That's a nice start for any chair. And there are plenty others.

But unlike the political landscape of yesteryear, when some Democrats (Nichols, Baumgartner, Padgett) could always depend upon some GOP support to carry county-wide races, that landscape has been replaced by a scortched-earth policy by the local and state GOP who know they're in control of the local and state legislatures, nearly all of the county-wide offices (the exceptions: Randy Nichols, who'll retire in 2014; and Judges Mary Beth Leibowitz and Harold Wimberly), and the Executive offices. Every seat in Knox County, no matter how safe it used to be, will be contested very hard over the next few years by the GOP.

For the next 6-8 years, the local Democratic Party needs a battle-hardened person to lead them, someone not only with a thick-skin, but also with the intellect, charisma, and mentality to make the GOP look bad whenever possible, all the while doing promoting a new crop of Democrat candidates.

What's more, when Democrats get together in April to select a new chair, they should look to the future, not to the past. The next chair should not be someone who seeks the position to run for office later, or someone who is being rewarded for past service to the party, but it should be someone who relishes the thought of advocating and defending Democratic Party ideals to anyone who'll listen, welcomes a street-fight or a one-on-one debate with Stacey Campfield, or whoever the GOP sticks in their face, and has the discipline and organizational skills to be effective at all of it.

The names above - Price, Breeding, Piper and Padgett - are four I can think of who might fit the bill. But they are also prospective candidates in coming years and that might eliminate them as chair prospects. So, who else is out there? A young military veteran would be great (but even an older military veteran might even work, e,g., someone like Don Nalls - what a great guy). A young lawyer (well, one with some sense) might work. As might a young aggressive assistant DA (who will likely be losing their gig next year and start private practice)?

Anyway, I just wanted to start a dialogue here to get some sort of public conversation going. Is it as bad as I portray it? Is it worse? Better? What are your thoughts?

And please refrain from bashing anyone who may have held the position in the past (or presently holds it) - whether it be Gloria Johnson, Sylvia woods, me, Jim Gray, Wade Till, etc. Each of us had our own accomplishments and, each of us had our own failings as chair, but a critique of any of those folks or of the past has little bearing on what's ahead, so I'd like to focus on 2013 and beyond and what you folks consider the reality of where Democrats in this county are today and where they might be headed in the foreseeable future.

Don Daugherty

Rachel's picture

Ok, ya lost me when you

Ok, ya lost me when you called Mark Padgett a "young Democrat with great upsides." a) As a candidate in any race inside the City limits he HAS no upside, and b) he's still calling himself a Democrat?

Bbeanster's picture

More the the point re

More the the point re Padgett, I would think that his high profile participation in Baby Wamp's campaign (not to mention his performance on the courthouse steps with JJ and Ivan) casts him in a pretty weak light as a Democrat.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I was wondering if Shelley Breeding now lives in Knox County?

Pam Strickland's picture

To say Mark Padgett and

To say Mark Padgett and Democrat in the same sentence is just laughable. And the very idea that he would even jokingly consider running for office after that joke of a campaign he offered up for mayor is heartstopping.

knoxrebel's picture

C'mon people. Is this the

C'mon people. Is this the best you can do? You're on a liberal blog, invited to discuss the direction of the local Democratic Party, and instead, you decide to devolve into the negative crap that contributed to Democrats being in this position to begin with. Gregg's dead-on, Democrats eat their young. And Republicans laugh about it . . . and win elections. The conversation I'm trying to spark here is about what the Party needs to do to gain some inroads into what will be a decade-long GOP stronghold, not who should or shouldn't be considered a Democrat. That (Mayoral) election is over and the best and most deserving candidate won. You supported her. You won. Get over it. Be magnanimous in victory. There are plenty Democrats who voted for Padgett and bad-mouthing him at this point doesn't do anything to advance the interests of the Democratic Party. If you think Padgett isn't rightly included on my list, okay, it's just my list, come up with your own. Honestly, that's what I'd trying to discuss.

Thank you, Tamara, for recognizing Doug. Maybe he's someone who should be in the mix. It's going to take a warrior. It's going to take someone who can put together a team of activists to hammer the GOP and its candidates every single day. They're going to have to be prolific, writing letters, op-ed pieces and guest columns, putting out a newsletter, making a real attempt at creating an official local Democratic Party blog. And it needs to be inclusive. If Mark Padgett wants to write a column advancing the interests of the Democratic Party, it should be welcomed and warmly received. We've got to quit saying just because we don't agree with everything a person has done or said, he or she's not a Democrat. I'm sorry folks, but that's just too exclusive a club for many people.

Three years ago, I ran as an Independent against a Democrat. My loyalty to the party was questioned. That's fine, but anyone who knows me knows that I'm a Democrat. I didn't put my opponent at risk of losing to a Republican. There wasn't a Republican in the race, so voters were choosing ultimately between two Democrats. That's about as good as you can get, if you're a Democrat. If I want to write letters, columns, donate cash, or set up a Democratic PAC to help rebuild the party, there are those among you who'll say, "no way." And that's one reason we are where we are and will continue to be there until we lose that self-defeating mentality. If my neighbor's a Republican and wants to vote for a Democrat or donate money, I'm not going to argue with her, I'm going to give her a ride to the polls or hand-deliver her check.

And while we're at it, let's quit being the nice guy. Let's stop letting our candidates get incessantly hammered by the GOP apparatus. We have to develop a basic campaign strategy built on our ability to rapidly respond to attacks, to press releases, to statements of any sort. One of the many reasons the GOP has been so successful in the past 12 years is that they run a coordinated campaign. All of the candidates are linked to a central campaign apparatus, and as a result, there is at least some cohesion among the campaigns. Democrats have not had a semblance of that type of campaign since the early 1980's. It would allow the Party to have a single message for an election cycle while maintaining at least some control over candidate campaigns. Of course, some candidates - usually the better known ones - simply won't want to tie themselves to a coordinated campaign, so the Party has to offer them something in return for their cooperation, be it volunteers, money, office space, technological help, etc.

Will it work, maybe. Maybe not. But it might show prospective candidates out there that if they do decide to run as a Democrat, they're going to have help. And for anyone considering a race, that matters a great deal.

Gregg Lonas's picture


Rachel and Pam,

Both of your comments are uncalled for. Attack, attack, attack. I am sure you mean well, but again you don't set a good example of wanting to grow the Democratic Party. Like I have written on here so many times, "The Democratic Party eats it's young." Hopefully the Knox County Democratic Party Convention will yeild a chairperson with a bright future. Maybe you two can get involved and attend the convention.

Rachel's picture

What attack?

I didn't attack anybody. I said Mark Padgett couldn't win a campaign within the City limits, and questioned whether he still called himself a Democrat.

The first is unquestionably true, and the second is an honest question given all his recent associations/endorsements (e.g., Bean's post).

Pam Strickland's picture

Politics is rough and tumble.

Politics is rough and tumble. If Padgett hadn't wanted to be called out for playing bad, he shouldn't have ran such a poor mayoral campaign. I stand by what I said.

If some one wants to call for a forward thinking list, it should have forward thinking people.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Gregg, where Padgett is concerned, I'm afraid you can count me with Rachel, Pam, and Betty.

I do hope we have party leaders in place now who are attuned to just what a poor choice Padgett would be, and can offer their quiet counsel to that effect?

Gregg Lonas's picture

just saying

It doesn't matter what the party leaders think about Mark. The chairperson position is decided by convention delgates. I don't think Mark has ever considered it. I believe Don is just trying to spark a conversation about the importance of the next party leader, not nominate and elect them here.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I am only recently acquainted with 1st Vice-Chair Doug Veum. I spoke with him at length at the primary event at Holiday Inn-Cedar Bluff (on the subject of a concern/complaint I had about the county party, ironically) and found him to be very polite, articulate, and especially diplomatic. We talked a good while.

I'm aware that he's fairly new to the area, but he tells me he's long been active in the party in the state where he lived previously.

And he's "camera ready."

I'd like to know more about Doug and I've wondered if he might be a good candidate for party chair?

Or possibly there are others who've volunteered locally for longer and are better qualifed by virtue of that experience?

I'm unsure of such things, as I've never been especially involved in party activities...

Pam Strickland's picture

Count me as a Doug Veum fan.

Count me as a Doug Veum fan. However, I believe the chair should probably be someone younger who can stick with the position for several cycles. Veum can provide vitals help along the way.

reform4's picture

Me as well.

I don't think someone needs to live here 20 years to be chair. In fact, not being entrenched with factions is a great plus in my book. Doug listens to what people have to say, looks at the data logically, is very intelligent, and is passionate about the KNDP being more successful. I think he has all the key benefits in one package.

As always, the internal struggle is where in the spectrum do our candidates need to be on the wedge issues (or avoid them if the office makes the issue irrelevant). Even then, as observed, many people in Knox Co pull the "R" lever regardless of their philandering pro-abortion history. I've said before that Osama Bin Laden could win office in Knox County so as long as he had that "R" by his name on the ballot.

I'm much more concerned about the state chair and when the state party will pay SOME attention to local offices, supporting local office candidates. If we ever want the governor's office again, we have to win it from the GROUND UP, and we're losing even in traditionally Dem locations in center/west TN. The uncontested Gov primary and it's negative effects down-ballot in local elections in August 2010 is a classic example of their inability to see the forest for the gubernatorial trees.

Too many candidates are out there on their own, or won't BE candidates because they feel they would be out there on their own. Some of them prefer to be on their own, and that should actually be discouraged! I want the KCDP chair to be a clearinghouse for sharing information on donor lists, on neighborhood events, public events candidates need to be attending, best methods to purchase ads or promotional items, etc. If I were chair I would demand each candidate's campaign managers sit down for an hour every two weeks and share information, ideas, and observations.

Some may not agree with those ideas. Yes, some campaigns have differences of policy or views, but (1) if we don't hang together.... and (2) if you're running under the umbrella of the KCDP, then you have to be on the team, IMHO.

knoxrebel's picture

Steve, this is what I was

Steve, this is what I was talking about insofar as a coordinated campaign goes. Sure, every campaign will have its own candidate and maybe (if lucky) even a manager-type, but the county party might need to look at having some input in those campaigns. People like Nichols & Padgett didn't depend on the "party" one bit, but every time, "party" volunteers helped.

As far as the State Chair goes, it ain't going to happen. There are two parts of this State where resources and efforts are going to go for awhile: Shelby County and Davidson County. That's where most of the successes are, and that's what any Chair is going to have to build on. They'll have to solidify those two areas, make them as blue as blue can be, before even thinking about looking to not only a traditionally GOP area, but now an almost as red as red can be area. Knox County, like the Tri Cities, has always been "that other place," and it will continue to be for some time. That is, unless we wind up with Roy Herron as chair. Or someone from East Tennessee. And even then . . . .

That's why whatever is done here is going to have be conceived here, formulated here, developed here, and put into motion here, by Knox County Democrats. We can't count on Nashville for anything. Never could. No matter who the chair might be.

Greg Mackay's picture

Doug Veum

You think Doug is too old?

Pam Strickland's picture

It's not that Doug is too

It's not that Doug is too old, it's just that I, personally, would prefer to see a younger person in the position who would stay with it for a while. I can't see Doug staying with it that long.

Average Guy's picture


just be right on the issues.

Find a young person willing to stick to three or four talking points through the next few elections cycles.

Time will prove the current Repulican ideology wrong. Be it on issues natural (climate change) or man made (turning away from public education and health), the future will be their Achilles.

Be the Party of science. While Republicans seem willing to lump basic elements of science and math in with perceived "wars" on things like guns and Christmas, it shouldn't change the mindset of people who take the time to educate themselves on issues.

Unfortunately for the country, and definately the state, the Repuclicans are going to have to do harm before people start looking for a fix. For sure, they're working on it.

Local Citizen's picture


The Democratic Party, both locally and statewide, must become inclusive if the party is to become reverent. To win the party must appeal to a broad spectrum of voters and not a small group based on a far left ideology.

This year can be the start of a rebuilding of the party locally and statewide if the correct people are chosen as chairman. They must be able to lead instead of divide with policies that the majority of voters can support. The party does not need a litmus test.

Average Guy's picture

Far left ideology =

climate change on a national level.

Evolution on a State level.

Better to lose honestly than cower from the truth to get votes.

rikki's picture

not really

"far left ideology" means nothing at all. It's a null grunt of ignorance, and I guarantee you Local Citizen can not explain what he means without making a fool of himself.

Science is neither leftist nor ideological. I would hope that Democrats can find a leader capable of discussing issues within a rational framework rather than perpetually stepping into the idiot's frame of reference. The first step toward restoring relevance for the party will be creating a sane framework for discussion of public policy. You can not do that by allowing morons to dictate how you converse.

Local Citizen's picture

How many times has Rikki used

How many times has Rikki used the term "far right"? Can he explain that without making a fool of himself?

rikki's picture

are you conceding?

You used the phrase "far left ideology." Can you explain what you mean? Apparently not, since you've opted to change both the subject and object of the challenge. I could certainly offer a definition of "far right," but doing so would offer zero insight into how you define "far left ideology."

Also, a search of all my Metro Pulse columns turns up zero instances of the phrase "far right," and I could not turn up any instances of me using that phrase here either. But I'm not the one who was asked to explain himself. You were, and you've succeeded only at making a fool of yourself, as predicted.

Local Citizen's picture

You are a prime example of

You are a prime example of the far left ideology. People like yourself are the reason for the demise of the Democratic Party in this state. You, and people like yourself, are the fools if you think your position on issues will win elections in this state.

Illegal immigration, same sex marriage, and other such social issues will never be acceptable regardless of all the "educating" by the left. It is a sure path to continued defeats. When the leadership of the party disown candidates and voters because of a leftist litmus test, the party has no future in this state.

The party should refocus on the issues that the party used to win on that had appealed to the voters of this state. The Democratic Party can win again if they can stop listening to the nitwits on this board. You are in the minority and you are bringing the entire party down with you. Your views does not represent the Democrats in this state much less the majority of the voters. The elections proves that.

rikki's picture

air ball

In other words, "far left ideology" is simply a meaningless curse you hurl at people. I don't consider myself a Democrat, and my primary focus is environmental and economic issues, not social issues, so your rant is little more than poorly aimed prejudice.

This is why folks like Average Guy should not define your terms for you. Doing so simply legitimizes stupidity by imposing thought where none existed. This is how Democrats lose, by responding to Republican blather rather than staking out their own turf.

Democrats win by defining themselves, by standing up for causes and for people. They will not defeat Campfield by criticizing him. They can win by offering a contrasting stance that appeals to people's sense of community and goodness. The party needs a leader who can articulate a better vision of government.

Someone who worked hard to get Gloria Johnson elected and deserves consideration is Liam Hysjulien.

Average Guy's picture

I must not have been clear

Evolution denial in Tennessee is no longer theory, it's policy.

To me, evolution denial is batshit crazy.

The question for Democrats is; do you appeal to the batshit to win elections or do you stick with reality and lose in the hope one day voters in our State catch up to the rest of the industrialized world?

Maybe it never happens, but to me, I'd rather lose on reality than pander to fantasy and win.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


They must be able to lead instead of divide with policies that the majority of voters can support.

What policies are you thinking of that you beleive have divided the party, LC?

More to the point, I guess, what alternate policies to those do you believe would NOT have divided the party?

Local Citizen's picture

Take your choice. Compare the

Take your choice. Compare the position of the current Democratic leadership with the public opinion polls of the voters in Tennessee. It should be very obvious that they are in conflict with the majority of the voters.

The party must be willing to again accept candidates and voters into the party that may hold a difference on views than the leadership. There must be a place at the table for conservatives as well as liberals if the party is going to win elections. The party must again become the party of the "Big Tent".

Rachel's picture

Being inclusive is one thing.

Being inclusive is one thing. Diluting your brand so that it becomes unrecognizable is quite another.

Wasn't it Truman who said given a choice between a real Republican and a fake Democrat that folks would choose the Republican every time?

Bbeanster's picture

Compare the position of the

Compare the position of the current Democratic leadership with the public opinion polls of the voters in Tennessee. It should be very obvious that they are in conflict with the majority of the voters.

What about stuff like, well, principles? Sixty-plus percent of Republicans believe Obama wasn't born in the USA. Should Dems attempt to woo them? If so, how?

The majority of our legislature is pretty comfortable beating up on gays and immigrants, and they are re-elected time and time again. Should Democrats adopt these beliefs? And what about the guns-everywhere, all the time agenda most of them subscribe to?

Where do you compromise your beliefs, and if you start, where does it end?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


There must be a place at the table for conservatives as well as liberals if the party is going to win elections.


Local Citizen's picture

Nevermind? What is it they


What is it they call people who continues doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

R. Neal's picture

Regarding DINOs and GOP Lite

Regarding DINOs and GOP Lite candidates, party officials, etc., my theory is that the party should have a platform that expresses a core set of principles, and that candidates and party officials should support it or at least not openly/actively oppose parts of it that conflict with their own personal beliefs. And if they can't support at least most of it they should switch teams or start their own party.

(I don't think the TNDP even has a platform?)

fischbobber's picture


Agreed. Here is an example.


As for Padgett. You don't get rid of a puppy for pissing on the carpet. Had he run that same campaign against Stacy Campfield, we'd all still be cheering. He's young and he made a rookie mistake. A bad rookie mistake, but it was just a mistake. The end result was a stronger mandate for Rogero. Maybe I'm getting old and soft, but Democrats are so outnumbered in this town, I'm not sure we have the option of turning on each other.

Plus I would be remiss to neglect to note that he is our only Democrat with hands on mud-slinging roll in the pig sty shit-hole style of politics that Republicans have repeatedly used against us. And beat us at. Frankly, I'd like to see the guy run against Stacy Campfield.

Pam Strickland's picture

Padgett was more than a puppy

Padgett was more than a puppy peeing on the carpet. He was a train wreck. He ran one of the worst campaigns that I've ever seen a candidate run. It wasn't just rookie mistakes; it was the kind of campaign that people put in textbooks and say, "Don't do this ever." over and over again.

He had a horrid campaign spokesperson, who was too proud of what she had done. He had people who were living in the past with his father's career. He had a business that was failing, yet he refused to let on that he was anything buta star in the business world. He was a joke. Period.

fischbobber's picture



He pulled 42% of the vote in a race he shouldn't have pulled 30% in. He got mad-dog crossover and crazy man votes, but you know what? He got them out to the polls and they voted for him. I didn't vote for him, but if after looking at the numbers you don't see that he moved the bar and scored way more votes than any sane person would have predicted, you just don't understand Knoxville politics. His only shot was a negative campaign and he took it.

I'm not crazy about negative campaigns, but it a tool the Democrats need in their toolbox.


If you don't think what Padgett did was impressive, look at some vote totals and consider this. Padgett's votes were loyalist. They were committed to him. He has a 12,000 person base in the city. What he did was impressive and he will likely try again. The smart move is to mend fences and return Padgett to the Democratic fold. He can be mighty valuable to the party as a prodigal son. And the party can be mighty valuable to him if he gets on board.

He made mistakes he won't make next time.

Rachel's picture

You are missing the point

I've said twice that Padgett couldn't win an election inside the City limits. That might change in the future, I guess, but right now it's true. He just made too many folks angry with his last campaign (not THAT he ran, HOW he ran it).

He's damaged goods in the City. If the Democratic party wants to win, they need to look elsewhere for a candidate.

And I'm not commenting one way or the other on his characteristics as a person, I'm just pointing out facts.

BTW, does Padgett still live in the City?

fischbobber's picture

Fence mending

He has some to do. But he could probably get elected to council in the right district. He got a surprising number of people to the polls.

I've never met the guy, by the way. This is just political junkie talk.

Pam Strickland's picture

You never met the guy. I did.

You never met the guy. I did. There's no there there. He truly ticked off too many people. You're looking at from one point of view. Flip it and look at it from the other viewpoint. There are too many ifs in your scenario. He mad too many people mad, especially at the end. He has way too much rebuilding to do. I wouldn't want to take a chance on him until after he's done the rebuilding, so far he hasn't shown any inclination for doing that. I don't see him running again.

Rachel's picture

Padgett & Fence mending?

But he could probably get elected to council in the right district.

No, he couldn't. Even if he were one of the two top candidates in the district primary, he'd have to run citywide in the general. And I will repeat that after his 2011 campaign Padgett couldn't win a citywide election.

Look, I'm tired of talking about Padgett and I have no particular interest in trashing him. But as a practical matter he has no political future within the City of Knoxville as a Democrat.

And he has only himself to thank for that.

(Edited to fix my grammar.) :)

fischbobber's picture


The guy got 12,000 votes against the most qualified, well regarded, and bi-partisanly supported candidate in the history of this town. No one has even come close to being the candidate Madeline Rogero is. I've voted for the mayor twice and I'll vote for her as often as she's willing to run for stuff. I've met her and would consider myself a groupie.

But 12,000+ people voted for Padgett over Rogero. Check the last city council election. No single race had 8,000 votes. It's math, not an endorsement.

For good or ill, he understands the machine.


Bbeanster's picture

Bob, you're forgetting that

Bob, you're forgetting that Padgett's campaign was based mostly on his fundraising prowess and his alleged business acumen.
And you're evidently assuming he'll be able to raise the same kind of money in a future race (or be able to translate that into money for candidates he supports) that he did in 2011.
It would be interesting to see if high rollers like Randy Boyd who were so scared of That Woman that they were willing to throw unprecedented money at Padgett are willing to do it again.

reform4's picture

Speaking of which...

... when is Madeline going to pass that Rain Tax?

I've been waiting for over a year now, dammit.

Rachel's picture

rain tax

Look how much $$ we could be making off it today! :)

knoxrebel's picture

A final word about Mark

About Padgett, Mark didn't throw his name out on this thread, I did. And I'm not sorry I did it at all. Maybe he is. Did he run a poor campaign? I'd say most folks agree that he did. Would he likely repeat it in the future? Undoubtedly not. Did he offend folks? Yes, I'm sure he did. But he's a young man and like most young men, he has alot to learn - about life and politics - and folks, we shouldn't throw anyone away because he or she made some "political" mistakes or because they ran a "negative" campaign against a very popular person. Most of us deserve a second chance.

I know Mark, have known him for years, and he's a truly decent and bright guy. Did I agree with him throughout his campaign? Nope, I did not. And I eventually let him (and others) know that in no uncertain terms in the midst of the race. Still, I think his political life can be redeemed . . . under the right circumstances. It'll take awhile, but if he steps up and makes a commitment to helping the local Democratic Party rebuild and helps other Democrats the way I think he can, that'll go a long way toward easing some of the conflict borne from his un-wise mayoral campaign.

Mark should have ran a race for City Council in '11. It was Madeline's time. She ran a flawless campaign and deserved to win.

Mark banked on anti-Madeline Democrats and the GOP. In the end, that was stupid. But it was really an understandable mistake, for someone so young. It was logical: get rid of Harmon, the GOP won't support Madeline and will come out and vote for Mark in droves. Uh, I kinda had the same thought in '10 when I ran against Amy Broyles as an Independent (can't beat an incumbent Democrat in a primary, so keep a Republican out of the race, the GOP won't support Amy, and they'll just flock to the polls like the Walking Dead to vote against her). Well, you see how that went for me, huh? I was hammered by Democrats for running against a Democrat (even though everyone knew I was a Democrat and so, a Democrat was guaranteed to win the seat), and hammered worse by Republicans because I was such a die-hard Democrat (the GOP, who didn't even have a candidate in the race, even sent out a mass-mailing talking about how liberal I was). And the GOP bypassed my race on the ballot.

Unlike Mark, I was nearly 50 years old and well, just flat-out should have known better: you just can't trust those worthless Republicans, especially when they say, "hey, you're in like Flynn, man, we'll take care of it." I came out of that race with a much better understanding of local politics than I ever had, and knowing who you can't trust, no matter what they say. And was more of a die-hard Democrat than ever.

So, I'm not saying we should talk Mark Padgett into running for some office next year, but the man has skills, he has contacts that transcend the local Democratic Party, and if Mark decides to step up and put those skills and his energy to work to help rebuild the local party and improve Democrats' chances at getting elected in the future, we should give him a second chance. He deserves that, at least. Put aside what's happened in the past and look at the resources with which we have to rebuild. We can't afford to throw away anyone (Mark and myself included) who might aid in that process and whether or not he will, I know that Mark can.

reform4's picture

he has contacts that

he has contacts that transcend the local Democratic Party,

Can you elaborate on what you are alluding to here?

Would this contacts help the party as well, or just Mark?

knoxrebel's picture

I'm talking about his

I'm talking about his state-wide Dem contacts gathered while he was working for Bredesen. That's where much of his money came from in the race. From everythin g I heard back then, he was very well thought of, and particularly so by Bredesen.

fischbobber's picture


I think he's done it before and he can do it again. Frankly, he wasn't going to get my vote and I didn't pay exceptionally close attention to the race. Word on the street though, is that he's very popular in Lonsdale and last time I checked, a Lonsdale vote counted as much as a Sequoyah Hills vote. The numbers are the numbers.

At the risk of slightly changing the subject, I couldn't help but notice that this thread is probably the closest thing this community has had to the discussions in the card rooms at Cherokee and Holston Hills back in the fifties about Cas Walker. I found myself chuckling at the old George Dempster quote that popped into my head,

"If I ordered a truckload of bastards and they just sent Cas, I'd pay the whole invoice."

and I found myself marveling that, indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Truthfully, I don't care about the guy one way or the other, but based on what I've seen, writing him off if he decides to stay in the game would be a strategic error. That was, and is, my whole point.

Bbeanster's picture

Close, but no cigar, Bob.

Close, but no cigar, Bob. It's a boxcar load of SOBs; not a truckload of bastards.

And re Padgett: you're talking to hear your head rattle. Rachel's right.

fischbobber's picture

Boxcar load of S.O.B.s

Thanks. I was thinking that didn't sound right.

re Padgett. Time will tell. Clearly, the people he pissed off are REALLY pissed off, but even a political puppy knows that's a risk. He brought nothing to the table for me so I didn't pay a lot of attention to him.

What I did notice was his vote total. And while my experience may not take me past a novice level, I feel it may well be relevant to point out that the most votes still win elections and the folks that generate the votes are the ones that win.

The guy I supported for state house in the last election was effectively shunned by the party, yet he still got over 9300 votes. When I crunch numbers I note the oddities and try to figure out, "Why?" You and others looking at the mayors race seem to think there was some sort of reasonable anti-Rogero sentiment. Where? She was the perfect candidate and Padgett generated a 42% pull by being an asshole. Betty, that's old school Knoxville politics, and nobody's coming up with enemies that Padgett didn't know he'd make. The money Padgett raised didn't get him votes, it got him noticed by the party. The bottom line remains the same, votes win elections and Padgett got his votes, I suspect, by looking people in the eye and asking for them. The same way Campfield gets his and the same way Cas got his. You know Victor and Lloyd, ask them if it works. Padgett doesn't need friends to win elections, he only has to be appealing to strangers. That's how politics works, and I suspect you know that. The folks giving money got what they paid for.

As for the future of Knoxville local politics, the one name missing from the list of people being bandied about is (forgive my spelling) Indya Kincannon. In all likelihood, she's the best choice for the leader of tomorrow. I'm partial to smart people. I just hope I didn't jinx her by bringing up her name.

Did I get the rest of the quote right?


Rachel's picture

the one name missing from the

the one name missing from the list of people being bandied about is (forgive my spelling) Indya Kincannon.

Since I've been arguing with you all week, I should say that I most emphatically agree with this.

And your spelling is fine.

Bbeanster's picture

You and others looking at the

You and others looking at the mayors race seem to think there was some sort of reasonable anti-Rogero sentiment. Where? She was the perfect candidate and Padgett generated a 42% pull by being an asshole. Betty, that's old school Knoxville politics, and nobody's coming up with enemies that Padgett didn't know he'd make. The money Padgett raised didn't get him votes, it got him noticed by the party. The bottom line remains the same, votes win elections and Padgett got his votes, I suspect, by looking people in the eye and asking for them. The same way Campfield gets his and the same way Cas got his. You know Victor and Lloyd, ask them if it works. Padgett doesn't need friends to win elections, he only has to be appealing to strangers. That's how politics works, and I suspect you know that. The folks giving money got what they paid for.

Padgett pissed off LOADS of people. I know of several who supported him initially, but were eventually turned off by his arrogance, his exaggerations about his business, his incessant requests for mo' money and his willingness to embrace looney bin supporters like Jeff Ownby with their rain tax and Agenda 21 accusations. He also pissed off officeholders because they got the impression he thought he was owed their support, for reasons known only to him.

And you absolutely cannot ignore that performance on the courthouse steps with Ivan, JJ (and Lumpy and Mose Lobetti in the audience). That was the biggest single political blunder I think I've ever seen on the local level. The sheriff (any sheriff, let alone one handpicked by Tim Hutchison) is at best irrelevant inside the city limits. At worst, he's a political liability. That's city politics 101. One effect of that dog and pony show was to start a rumor that Padgett would appoint JJ police chief if he should be term-limited out of office (remember, Padgett initially refused to say he'd retain David Rausch, the most popular chief I've ever seen). Padgett told Gene Patterson that Rausch would have to re-apply. Talk about a turd in a punchbowl. He changed his tune after awhile, but the damage was done.

Then he spent the following day at the FOP HQ, where they were voting on their mayoral endorsement. He got creamed. They were pissed.

Mose and Lumpy were just the cherry on the sundae.

And there absolutely was a solid core of business types who opposed Madeline. I heard "that woman scares me to death" over and over again. Her resume scared them. Cesar Chavez? are you kidding?? They were desperate for a 'businessman candidate," but no one emerged and Padgett stepped in to fill the void. These aren't guys who are happy to have thrown their money down a rathole and I doubt they'll do it again.

fischbobber's picture

Looney Tunes vote

The problem I may well be having in this discussion is having lived in a Campfield district for too long. If I understand you and Rachel correctly, the point is that Padgett has pissed everyone who is rational off.

My point is that he doesn't need rational people to win elections. He was mastering the looney tunes effect. In my district, those are the guys that win, yet my neighbors all seem normal to me. Without going into the sordid details of Campfield, Ownby, and Hall, it would appear that politicians that would outrage a seemingly normal voter, just look like normal, business as usual guys over here.

Looking over this stuff, on an intellectual level, maybe I should be outraged, but on a daily living level, it all looks pretty normal to me. Maybe I've become like a child living in a dysfunctional family who views the activities surrounding him as normal.

When it's all said and done, the guy still got 12,000 plus votes. The guy I was talking to was telling the story about a cousin with eight kids who was married to a woman whose sister had eight etc. and they were all part of the Padgett machine. That's where I got the info about him being loved in Lonsdale. Anymore, I really don't associate rational human behavior with politics. I vote with my conscience, but I study the stuff pragmatically, and the guy still ended up with 12,000 votes. Plus, now he's armed with working knowledge.

I hope you're right in the sense that by implication it would mean there is hope for the human race, but speaking as a guy that has gotten up and gone to work everyday and stayed on the farm raising the fatted calf, so to speak, I can tell you that the world loves the prodigal son.

R. Neal's picture

My point is that he doesn't

My point is that he doesn't need rational people to win elections. He was mastering the looney tunes effect.

So, are you suggesting that Democrats need to recruit nutty candidates to run on irrational platforms? Not sure that's a good thing or the way to go.

fischbobber's picture

The point

The point is that he can get votes. The subtext is that he can get more votes than can be rationally explained. The context is that many local democrats struggle to do that.

The overall philosophy is that all knowledge is worthwhile, in and of itself.

The biblical lesson to consider is the prodigal son.

And considering that the nutty Democratic position is a single payer universal healthcare system as opposed to the nutty republican position of arming every citizen so we can turn on each other during the apocalypse, I'll take the nutty irrational Democratic candidate.

Rachel's picture

That's where I got the info

That's where I got the info about him being loved in Lonsdale.

Do you have any idea how few votes there are in Lonsdale?

Yeah, Padgett got votes. He got votes from Ivan Harmon supporters after Ivan got trounced in the primary and he got votes from folks who were "afraid of that woman." That's a great base to build on for the future. /sarcasm

You can't win an election with Harmon supporters (as Harmon demonstrated) and most of the folks who were "afraid" of Madeline probably aren't any more.

I'm really sick of saying this, but I will say it once more. Given the kind of campaign Padgett ran, he has zero future in a citywide election.

Could we please stop talking about him and spend our time talking about viable candidates and credible campaign strategy?

reform4's picture

That's one thing when running against another Democrat

OK, so he can successfully use fear to manipulate large numbers of crazy wingnuts to vote against a smart, competent progressive candidate.

Maybe I'm just stupid, but I'm still waiting to hear how this makes him a great potential leader in KCDP, or how this could be a useful skill running against a GOP candidate.


I guess if we were voting for a candidate to beat ourselves up, yeah, I guess he'd be at the top of my list.

Rachel's picture

For good or ill, he

For good or ill, he understands the machine.

I'm as done with this topic as Padgett is with city politics.

Look, I've been watching the City political scene VERY closely for a lot of years, and have participated in a lot of campaigns (and pretty much run one Council campaign last time 'round).

But what the heck do I know? You want to believe Padgett's a viable candidate, I'm done arguing with you.

fischbobber's picture

White Flag

Look, I've been watching the City political scene VERY closely for a lot of years, and have participated in a lot of campaigns (and pretty much run one Council campaign last time 'round).

Politics can look different from the inside of the house than it does from the yard. It doesn't take long for people to explain to you why you're stupid when you knock on the door.

Edit: This comment was based on my involvement in the last couple elections, not on this thread.

Pam Strickland's picture

Bob, I grew up with my mama


I grew up with my mama living and breathing politics. Then I starting covering politics. I've reported on campaigns at all levels for 40 years. Came very close to marry a political consultant in the 80s. You need to listen to Rachel and Bean. They know what they are talking about in this one.


underthebusdem's picture

Doug veum is yet another

Doug veum is yet another shiny new out of towner old man dangled in front of you people that you all oooo and ahhh over. How long is sylvia woods going to continue to be allowed to be puppetmaster to the local and state party?

Pam Strickland's picture

Sounds as if you're jealous

Sounds as if you're jealous of Doug Veum's experience. I've had some conversations with him. He knows what he's doing, what he's talking about. You really should talk to him with an open mind.

Underthebusdem's picture

Ask Doug Veum how delegates

Ask Doug Veum how delegates are allocated for the local convention. He doesn't understand it, at all and he totally has no concept of how the specific county rules for delegate selection systematically suppress young and college dems. He believes that only a small fraction of people should have any involvement and that only a certain group of people's ideas are worthy. The problem with you people is when you do have good people, you discount them as worthless and then go after the shiny out of towners. It does seem a little, shall we say, hypocritical, that the only option you support is an old white dude for chair.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm surprised at a couple of references to Doug as an "old man." I hadn't thought so? Does anyone know his age?

Pam Strickland's picture

Don't know his age. Do know

Don't know his age. Do know that he is retired, and I believe that he moved here because his wife's child(ren) live here. Don't really remember those details. He lives in my neighborhood.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Local Citizen said:

What is it they call people who continues doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

LC, given the success of Democrats at every level--local, state, and national--in the nation's 2012 elections, it appears that the task is to educate TN voters who didn't vote Democratic, not to educate TN Democrats.

I don't enjoy seeing my state ridiculed in newspapers coast to coast and I think you are quite mistaken about who is out of step.

knoxrebel's picture

Hey - could we get back

Hey - could we get back on-topic? Let's talk about the local party and where it's headed and have a conversation about that. This is a fairly narrow subject area. I've read one name suggested as a potential party chair. Surely, there are others. There is some appeal for someone outside the actual party organization to come in,. blow it up, and start over. It's like starting a new or rebuilding an existing athletic program. Do you rely on veterans? Do you blow it all up and stock up on young talent? A blend of each? There is some sense in the notion that Democrats cannot continue to do what they've been doing (at least locally) because it simply hasn't worked, of late.

It's not going to be that hard to get elected chair. The tough part is not looking like an idiot after you're elected. As I recall, the last couple of conventions brought out 60-70 people. There were over 200 in '07 when I was elected. The one before that, a paltry 56. If I'm someone who is interested in taking on this chore, I'd nab me a couple of dozen folks I can at least partially trust from all across the county, do the leg-work to get those folks and others who support me to show up for 2-3 hours in April, run with a very clear slate of candidates with a clear mission statement, and show up at the convention. That's a winning strategy for almost anyone, especially if only 60-70 delegates show up. You can win with 30-35 attendees.

But there needs to be more than 60-70 people showing up in April. The Executive Committee itself consists of over 120 seperate offices. Many are left vacant, or names are written in in abstentia. The idea is to get this conversation started, get some interest, and have a convention in April with folks who actually want to participate, not just socialize. After all, the Democratic Party isn't a club.

Andy Axel's picture

After all, the Democratic

After all, the Democratic Party isn't a club.

Now that's funny.

CE Petro's picture



it appears that the task is to educate TN voters who didn't vote Democratic, not to educate TN Democrats.

absolutely true! and this also goes back to a previous comment in this thread on not using the Framing of issues created by the repugs. Clearly and concisely educate the folks not currently voting dem how their votes for the repugs hurt them.

I've seen this time and again over the years. Talk to the workers and they will often agree with many principles of a dem platform as issues relate to them personally. But, when it comes time to vote, they vote R, mostly because the R's gloss over how harmful their policies are to the average person.

Hildegard's picture

I think Daryl Fansler was

I think Daryl Fansler was omitted from the list of Democratic judicial officeholders (isn't he still a chancellor?). Randy Nichols is retiring, haven't heard anything but rumors about Leibowitz or Wimberly (and the Republicans won't run anybody against either one of them). If local Democrats are just now sorta kinda starting to talk about who to run, well, I hope you're talking about 2022, because the Republicans are already mobilizing behind a DA candidate, while other Republicans wait and watch for any incumbent Democrat judges to announce their retirement. They've been talking about who to run for over two years, because they are organized, not just county-wide but community-by-community, and they communicate. The talking stage of the process should be over for both major parties.

knoxrebel's picture

I indeed omitted Daryl from

I indeed omitted Daryl from the list of Democrat county-wide officeholders. Like Nichols, Leibowitz, and Wimberly, Daryl's seat is also up in 2014, and my guess is that he's not going to run again.

Leland Price has been looking at the DA's race for at least 2 years. He's made all the rounds.

The GOP has been mobilizing behind a DA candidate since 2008.

Everything you say is true. There's hardly any chance for a Democrat to compete in these county-wide races in 2014. If someone with great name recognition were to make a run, things might be different, but there's little chance of anyone doing that, as a Democrat. So, yes, the main goal is the Commission races, the Council races, the 2016 and 18 races. In 2015, there will likely not be a single Democrat jujdgte in this county, nor a Democrat holding office county-wide. So, yes, the focus is on the future, beyond that . . . .

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Don, I don't know Leland Price in the DA's office. Fill me in?

Hildegard's picture

I'm not Don, but I can say

I'm not Don, but I can say Leland Price is a career prosecutor and Harvard Law graduate who was in charge of the Christian/Newsom prosecution. Which has its issues, so I'm not inviting a threadjack.

Charme Knight is another career prosecutor who is a strong (probably stronger, imo) contender for the GOP nomination.

The only Democrats with whom I am acquainted who could run a successful campaign for DA have already indicated they'll probably support Knight. So you see how this thing works.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks, Hilde.

(I'm probably the only person in all of Knox County who failed to follow the Christian/Newsom case at all. Just flat couldn't read the grissly details.)

redmondkr's picture

"The party should refocus on

"The party should refocus on the issues that the party used to win on that had appealed to the voters of this state."

Oh, I get it. Democrats need to campaign for segregation and queer bashing again like they did in the fifties in order to win Republican votes.

Local Citizen's picture

I wish you did get it. The

I wish you did get it. The Democrats need to get back to their basic principles of supporting issues like protecting workers' rights, enhancing education, providing a safety net for the less fortunate, protecting the environment, and numerous other issues that really matters to the people.

There needs to be a place in the party for all points of view including those who may support unpopular positions. But the common goal has to be to win elections. You cannot do that when you are mainly advocating policies that 60 plus percent of the voters object to. I know that most of the people on this board would rather continue to lose elections than compromise.

The job of the Democratic Party is not to get Republican voters but to bring the Democrats back into the party. The first step in that process is to elect a chairman at the local and state level that is more practical than ideological.

Rachel's picture

I know that most of the

I know that most of the people on this board would rather continue to lose elections than compromise.

You know squat about 60 percent of us.

Local Citizen's picture

I can read your postings.

I can read your postings.

Rachel's picture

Okey, dokey, then please

Okey, dokey, then please explain my political philosophy to the class, as well as my preferred practical strategy for winning elections.

And please reference my actual experience in campaigns as examples.

CE Petro's picture


LC writes:

The Democrats need to get back to their basic principles of supporting issues like protecting workers' rights, enhancing education, providing a safety net for the less fortunate, protecting the environment, and numerous other issues that really matters to the people.

There needs to be a place in the party for all points of view including those who may support unpopular positions. But the common goal has to be to win elections. You cannot do that when you are mainly advocating policies that 60 plus percent of the voters object to. I know that most of the people on this board would rather continue to lose elections than compromise.

And herein lies the rub. When you talk to the people on the ground, the workers in this area, actually do want policies put in place that help them not harm them. That tells me that the local/state dems have a muddied message. Clean up the message with dems that can talk directly to the people, and you will see a change.

DINO's or R-lite with R-lite messaging will not get the job done.

Oh, and as far as your broad-brush 60% of us on this board would rather see dems lose elections, you obviously have no blessed clue of what is in our individual minds. I, for one, would like to see actual dems running locally, instead of the R-lite-fiscal-conservative losers (and who will continue to lose) that have been our only choices against bat-sh*t crazy.

Seriously, whoever runs, for any position, has talk to the people that, you know, vote, and they have to have a very clear, articulate message. That is the only way any dem is going to win locally. People like that hand press, and they like folks that listen to what their needs are and respond (as opposed to react) with real solutions that will help (even if it is eventually down the line).

Local Citizen's picture

It appears you have explained

It appears you have explained it yourself.

Submitted by Rachel on Sun, 2013/01/06 - 7:59pm.

Ok, ya lost me when you called Mark Padgett a "young Democrat with great upsides." a) As a candidate in any race inside the City limits he HAS no upside, and b) he's still calling himself a Democrat?

You need to read my comment again about the 60%:
But the common goal has to be to win elections. You cannot do that when you are mainly advocating policies that 60 plus percent of the voters object to.

I based my statement on public opinion polls in the state in regard to the divisive wedge issues in addition to a vote on one of the issues.

Average Guy's picture

All Republicans are not on a fool's errand..,

so where will the ones that know preventive care is cheaper than emergency care, labor without immigrant labor is catastrophic and that scientists are not part of some evil plot, go?

Win or lose, there truly is only one path for Democrats to stay on. Getting off the path now would have been like getting off the Civil Rights path in the mid 1950's.

Bbeanster's picture

During the campaign, Pagdgett

During the campaign, Padgett told people that if he couldn't beat the likes of Rogero and Harmon, he'd give up running for office, ever again.
Maybe he's going to take his own advice.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Rikki, tell us about Liam?

rikki's picture

Liam campaigned for Madeline

Liam campaigned for Madeline Rogero and for Gloria. He is a deputy field director for TNDP and got his Masters in environmental sociology from UT last year. He's bright, dedicated, hard working. He is about to turn 30 and is engaged to a bright and hard working UT law student.

TroyCG's picture


Also, Liam was recently hired as an academic adviser by the Political Science Department at UT.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


...the only option you support is an old white dude for chair.

Doug isn't the "only option" I support for chair, he's just one of the few folks I know active in the party, UndertheBus. That, and he made a favorable impression on me.

Maybe you know more folks? Maybe you can suggest others? You haven't, you realize?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks, Rikki and Troy. More questions...

UndertheBus charges that we're too easily mesmerized by "shiny out-of-towners." Yes? No? Does it matter???

If yes, what is the liklihood that anyone would perceive Liam as an "out-of-towner?"

Also, Don suggests we need a "warrier" at the helm. Yes? No?

If yes, is Liam such?

TroyCG's picture

shiny!....happy? party chair.

There is a history in the KCDP of factionalism and divisiveness. I was on the BOG and then Party Secretary in the mid to late '90s (the years, not my age).

The local Dems are not mesmerized by "shiny out-of-towners", as such, but folks who haven't been associated with this or that group/faction.

I went to Farragut High School with State Rep. Gloria Johnson; she's as local as they come. Gloria got involved with the Obama Campaign during the 2008 Campaign cycle, but was not involved in Democratic politics before then. This made her ideal for the chair position, and she has done a stellar job.

I think we need a chair who:
[in no particular order]
* is dedicated & committed
* has time to devote to the job
* has strong organizational skills
* can communicate our core principles
* can unify the local party stalwarts

knoxrebel's picture

So Troy, do you possess those

So Troy, do you possess those traits and is it something you'd consider? Seriously, someone needs to come forward and kick-start this engine before it dies. There are plently of awfully smart folks on this blog who ought to pitch in and consider it as well.

This is an enormously thankless job, and someone must do it purely out of passion for the Democratic Party and its ideals, not because you're seeking praise or gratitude or a stepping-stone for some other office. Now, that doesn't mean you aren't praised or folks aren't grateful, they truly are, but it's the feeling that comes with pulling off a worthwhile accomplishment that's satisfying. And what's in store for (and the challenge for) the next Chair is an unprecedented rebuilding project. Democrats just need someone competent and qualified to take the reigns, keep them for a few years, and plow through. I wish they'd change the bylaws/constitution to make this next next term for 4 or 6 years, as this will be a long-term affair and doesn't need to be interrupted or halted by another biennial chair election. If someone's not up for the job after two years, there are ways of getting rid of them.

fischbobber's picture


You should do this.

Edit: Farragut Farmers Rule!

AnonymousOne's picture

Besides the angst still

Besides the angst still focused on Padget, political parties always make this restructuring, rebuilding about 100 times harder than it is.

The GOP failed in the national races and is going through restructuring issues if its own, while Democrats squander their time claiming who's the bluest among them and who isn't.

I've voted for Democrats as well as Republicans. Candidates of both parties do best in local elections when they don't get dragged into national debates that they will have no influence in deciding. And also when they connect and reflect the local populace.

"Oh, I get it. Democrats need to campaign for segregation and queer bashing again like they did in the fifties in order to win Republican votes."

So Tyree, McWherter (Ned Ray), and Bredesen did those things to get elected?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Shoulda left off Bredesen, AO.


Cleuster / lonnie's picture

Yep, Phil is a Republican.

Yep, Phil is a Republican.

WhitesCreek's picture

Sorry I'm late to this thread. I was busy ranting on my own...


Sorry if I'm repeating.

R. Neal's picture

That post should be the TNDP

That post should be the TNDP platform.

Bbeanster's picture

Speaking as someone who is

Speaking as someone who is rather long in the tooth, I think it's pretty crappy that somebody pulls Doug's name out of the ether, kicking off an insulting dissection of his age, ability and regional origin.
The fact is it's a crappy job that few people want. If Doug had any aspirations in this direction, this thread should send him running in the opposite direction.

knoxrebel's picture

I don't recall who first

I don't recall who first mentioned Doug's name, but I'm pretty sure it was mentioned in a very flattering way, with no intent (by whoever that was) to kick-start any dissection at all. But I do think age, ability, and to some extent regional origin are relevant to many folks who are interested in who might be the next chair. Age, to some, might be relevant to experience or maturity. I'd think someone's ability is relevant. As for regional origin, well, my guess is that some folks would like someone who's been around for awhile, while other folks could not care less about it. Still, it seems pretty unfair to criticize someone who hasn't even made it known that he's interested (as far as I know).

I've read more good than bad about him, that's for sure. As I appreciate it, Doug's the First Vice Chair of the Party and the Chair is headed to Nashville (or already there). So, while GJ's away, some folks might assume that he's minding the store (an unfair notion, as that's not exactly how the bylaws are set up).

**Nevertheless, whoever's minding the store right now - be it the Officers, Board of Governors or Executive Committee - might need to get the IT person to take a glance at the Website, as it's home-page is well-out-dated, still inviting folks to a Dec. 20 Holiday Party and bashing former GOP nominee Gary Loe. [http://knoxdemocrats.org]

Point is: if someone moves here from another area and wants to check out the local party, this is the first thing they see about the local party. At this point, the website probably needs to have information (as much as possible) about the April convention and the particulars about being involved in it, as a candidate or a delegate.

However, perhaps your post is a good segue toward a discussion about what folks might expect/look for in a party chair. I've highlighted what my thoughts are, what are yours? And are there other folks interested? (This doesn't assume that Doug is interested at all, by the way). I'd welcome anyone interested in what Betty accurately depicts as this "crappy job" to let folks know who you are, why you're interested, what your plans might be, etc.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


You did note, Betty, that the someone who "pulled Doug's name out of the ether" (me) is not the same person to have kicked off "an insulting dissection of his age, ability, and regional origin" (primarily UndertheBusDem)?!

Although, really, I don't find it "insulting," just "frank."

In any event, Don is probably right that the next chair--or any chair, anytime--needs to have a pretty thick skin.

If Doug has any such ambitions, I hope he passes through to mull over the couple of comments from detractors and adjusts his winning strategy accordingly. If he has any ambitions.

TroyCG's picture

RE: more questions


Is that "warrior" or "worrier"?


Tamara Shepherd's picture


It was supposed to be "warrior," Troy (blush).

And you should consider running.

Bbeanster's picture

I shouldn't be butting into

I shouldn't be butting into this thread, since I'm not even a Democrat. But I'm in too deep to stop now, so I'd like to say that I thought Don brought a lot of energy and new enthusiasm as chair, and that Gloria has worked very hard and done a good job, too.

I've never really understood the undertow within the KCDems, and unfortunately still don't. But it seems to me that there are lots of younger folks around who could be brought in with the right kind of effort -- and there's no way to go but up. I think Anthony Hancock, with a lot of support and preparation, would make a better than average candidate in the right race in the foreseeable future, for example.

lonnie's picture



Tamara Shepherd's picture


...since I'm not even a Democrat.

Well, I just stuck a sign on your back that says you are :-)

So are you suggesting Anthony could be a good candidate for Chair, or for public office?

(I could see him in either role.)

R. Neal's picture

Don't know the man, but my

Don't know the man, but my impression is Hancock is better as a candidate. Maybe for City Council or County Commission? He should definitely run again for something.

For chair, it should be someone with more experience in the trenches with behind the scenes organizing and fundraising skills and a killer instinct for strategic ruthlessness. And a demonstrated competence in or at least working knowledge of PR and traditional media plus new/social media communications technology.

Cleuster / lonnie's picture

I agree. Hancock should run

I agree. Hancock should run for City Council. He would have a decent chance in the city. Does he live in the third city council district?
As far as chair, she should meet your criteria as well as Troy's list. With those qualities she would make an outstanding chair. Age consideration should not be a major factor. Health status and energy level are more important factors.


Hurly's picture

You folks have met the enemy,

You folks have met the enemy, and it is looking back at you in the mirror. Good luck with doing anything. You people aren't very nice. If this is what you call creating enthusiasm, it explains why this area is so red.

R. Neal's picture

More advice from

More advice from right-wingers. Always so helpful.

Cleuster / lonnie's picture

Hurly,the reason this area is

Hurly,the reason this area is so red is the ignorance of the people!

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm sure you're right, Randy.

As little involvement as I've had with the party proper, I really couldn't guess if Anthony (or anybody else we've discussed here) is suited to the job.

My impression of Anthony, though, is that he's very amicable, so to the extent that the party sometimes becomes fractious it would seem he'd be the kind of guy you'd want in charge, to smooth ruffled feathers?

Doug and Troy both strike me that way, too.

(No, UndertheBus, I do not mean to dismiss female candidates.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I assumed he meant the Knox Area Chamber Partnership?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'll take the nutty irrational Democratic candidate.

But why be a victim?

Why not just advance a less-nutty irrational Democratic candidate?

I think the disconnect here is that you seem to be willfully advancing the nutty irrational candidate?

knoxrebel's picture

So, it looks like the names

So, it looks like the names that have popped up as potential candidates for chair are Doug Veum, Anthony Hancock, Liam Hysjulien, and Troy Goodale. Any others?

The time is now for anyone to get started if they are interested. I started campaigning for that office in November '06, about 5 months before the convention. I attended every meeting of every Democratic club every month in those 5 months, drove to Nashille and met with the new TNDP folks, sent out over 2,000 letters and hundreds of emails to every list of living Dems I could get my hands on, developed a Mission Statement that was about 5 pages long, and handed it out and emailed it to any Democrat I came into contact with (thanks to John Bohstedt for recommending that), set up private meetings with groups an individual Democrats in every part of the county, and paid a call on most of the Democarts who had held office or were then in office.

So, I'm not sure what we've accomplished on this thread. We identified a few names and maybe got some folks interested (or drove a few away). Perhaps we can revisit this in early March and see if things are shaping up.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

John Bohstedt

At the risk of further rankling UndertheBus by praising yet another "old white guy," John has certainly worked hard for the party and would sure seem to be qualified?

Is he interested?

knoxrebel's picture

Of course, I wasn't

Of course, I wasn't attempting to insert John into the chair race at all. He helped me, for sure. And he's a fine, smart man. Nobody but John can speak about his interest. Sniff it out. But regardless of his interest in this, he's a loyal, hard-working Democrat, who'll do everything he can to promote good Democratic candidates.

Underthebusdem's picture

John Bohstedt certainly has

John Bohstedt certainly has stronger roots in Knoxville and he has also worked with many of the factions of the party, even those under the bus.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Glad to hear it, UTB!

knoxrebel's picture

And the final list includes . . .

Okay, it appears the names who might make decent party chairs (culled from this thread) are: Doug Veum, Anthony Hancock, Liam Hysjulien, Troy Goodale and John Bohstedt. A fairly diverse mixture of age, race, possibly ethnicity, geographical-roots and experience, but not a single woman has been identified. That's a bit of a surprise. The last two party chairs were women, three out of 5 of the party officers are women, nine other women sit on the party's governing board, and at least 14 more are on the party's Executive Committee. Surely we have a young professional woman who fits the bill. . . .

And by the way, thanks to whoever updated the Party's website.

Rachel's picture

Cortney Piper?

Cortney Piper?

Pam Strickland's picture

For the website or the party

For the website or the party chair?

Rachel's picture

I meant Party Chair but

I meant Party Chair but mostly I was just spit-balling some good female Democratic names.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I think someone, maybe Bob, mentioned Indya, Don?

I met several gals active in the Democratic Women's Club--the group meeting on Western Avenue--in recent months, any one of whom might be quite capable, but I'm just now getting to know them.

Can someone who knows those folks better opine?

knoxrebel's picture

Yep, I mentioned Cortney,

Yep, I mentioned Cortney, moreso as a future council or commission candidate, than as party chair. Have no idea of her interest. My guess is she's not only happy where she is right now, but it'd also compromise her business. As for Indya, she could very well follow Madeline as Mayor in 6 years. I think both have further political ambition and that's a good thing. Therefore, I doubt either Cortney or Indya would be inclined to risk alienating potential voters by serving in such a partisan position. Then again, Gloria J was elected in a redrawn district while holding that very position, so . . . I might be dead wrong. Imagine that. . . .

Other names that come to mind: Evelyn Gill, Kim Webber, Janice Spoon, Sylvia Woods, Erin Lonas, Cindy Walker.

Rachel's picture

As for Indya, she could very

As for Indya, she could very well follow Madeline as Mayor in 6 years.

Well, it's 7 years (although I guess it's just 6 till election season).

Right now I'd predict someone else will be the next mayor, but 6 years is a LONG time.

At any rate, when Indya's school board term is over, I sure hope she has further ambitions.

Pam Strickland's picture

Evelyn Gill or Kim Webber are

Evelyn Gill or Kim Webber are good ideas. Not so sure aboutSylvia Woods. She's been so involved at the state level for so long. I'd rather see some fresher blood. Would like to know more about the others on your list.

Cortney is probably happy where she is, especially given here business situation. And I don't see Indya moving into a party position.

Bbeanster's picture

Has Indya ever been involved

Has Indya ever been involved in KC party politics?

knoxrebel's picture

Good point/question. I've

Good point/question. I've seen her at a few Dem gatherings, but that's it. Of course, she may have attended GOP ones as wekll. Is she a Dem? God, I hope so. But smart not to align herself with Dems.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Don, may I assume that you mean she is smart not to align herself with either political party?


knoxrebel's picture

Probably true.

Probably true.

rikki's picture

fresh start

What Knox County really needs is an inversion of the Tea Party gimmick. Form a new party united around a simple concept; run on the Democrat's primary ballot while forging a distinct party identity. Or just run on only the general ballot.

It baffles me why people are so eager to shoulder the yoke of the Democrat label. Whatever fundraising and infrastructure advantages might come with it are clearly dwarfed by the liabilities.

knoxrebel's picture

I appreciate and respect your

I appreciate and respect your point of view, Rikki, and you are right, something . . . different may be (is) necessary in Knox County. I'm not entirely sure how it could be concieved, much less accomplished, but smart people ought to take a look at it.

Those of us still clinging to the Democratic Party, hoping for its resurgence in our lifetimes, are not baffled at all by someone's eagerness to say, "I'm a Democrat." Perhaps it's nostalgic. Not too long ago, the Democrats were dominant in this state (and held their own in Knox County) [At once, we had a sitting governor, both U.S. Senate seats, the state senate, the state house, the congressional delegation, the Supreme Court, the Coourt of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the PSC, and so on]. Or perhaps, it's all about never giving in to the GOP (no matter how badly you've been beaten). While I don't agree with every plank of the national Democrats' platform, I do happily agree with most of them. More than anything, I'd like for my vote for Democrats to count, to be relevant, to make a difference. And right now, it sure feels as if it doesn't.

Of course, from a strategic standpoint, you are dead-on. In Knox County, it's the death knell of any campaign - outside of a couple of inner city districts - to announce you're running as a Democrat. So, in the end, I'm not so sure your premise - "that people are so eager to shoulder the yoke of the Democrat label" - is correct. We can't even lure someone to get on a blog and admit they're interested in chairing the party.

We need to remake the Democratic Party in Knox County, and across Tennessee, and maybe then we can play some role in remaking and shaping America for future generations - instead of remaining in Knox County, in Tennessee, having little to do but watch from the sidelines as our kids' and grandkids' futures are inevitably shaped by nut-jobs in Nashville and by voters of other states.

Rachel's picture

In Knox County, it's the

In Knox County, it's the death knell of any campaign - outside of a couple of inner city districts - to announce you're running as a Democrat.

Please define "a couple of inner city districts." If you mean Commission district races, you're right - only the ones entirely within the City limits hold much chance for the Dems.

If you're talking other races, I don't think that's true. The City has a Democratic mayor and voted twice for Obama. It's getting steadily more Democratic overall.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I believe Kerry carried the City in 2004 and Gore carried it in 2000, also?

knoxrebel's picture

Yes, I mean partisan races in

Yes, I mean partisan races in districts primarily or totally within the city, so yes, that's Commission: the 1st and the 2nd. Outside of those, my brother ran a strong campaign in the 3rd in '06 (53%-47%, I think); Mary Lou Kanipe ran a strong race all the way out in the 7th against Mary Lou Horner that same year (51%-49%); there was some hope out in the 4th once upon a time; and Cawood was always strong out in the 6th. But since '06, Democrats can only compete in the 1st and 2nd Commission districts.

That said, I'm not so sure the city is getting "steadily more Democratic overall" at all. I'd sure like to think so, and would love to look at some hard data on that comparing say, 2004 vs. 2012. Took a break just now and compared the 2004 results with the 2012 results, and re-drawn districts notwithstanding, it appears, Rachel, from my sample, that you are correct. In only 2 of the 15 city precincts I looked at did the Dem nominee not get a greater percentage of the vote in '12 vs. '04. In a few cases, it's a pretty staggering increase. Thanks for pointing that out.

Rachel's picture

I love data, and keep a lot

I love data, and keep a lot of it around. I'd like to be Nate Silver but about all I can do it admire him.

bizgrrl's picture

In only 2 of the 15 city

In only 2 of the 15 city precincts I looked at did the Dem nominee not get a greater percentage of the vote in '12 vs. '04. In a few cases, it's a pretty staggering increase. Thanks for pointing that out.

To rephrase, in 13 of 15 City of Knoxville precincts, Democratic nominees got a greater percentage, sometimes a staggering increase, of the vote in 2012 as compared to 2004.

Thanks to you both. It is a selling point to future candidates.

knoxrebel's picture


The Party needs you as a spin doctor, bizgirl. Thanks for putting my statement in positive terms. I was just looking at it from a data standpoint.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Speaking only for myself, I self-identify as a Democrat primarily because it's the most explicit "shorthand" I can offer to communicate my ideals.

I pretty much agree with the Democratic platform (to the extent that I understand it), but I don't always agree with each and every Democratic vote I observe, particularly at the state level.

Still, referring to myself as "a Democrat" allows me to convey more quickly--if not completely--what I believe.

But yes, if more organized political parties' platforms were widely understood, I might find that another party's platform better conveys what I believe.

bizgrrl's picture

The Democratic party is not

The Democratic party is not perfect. Not many things are perfect.

I, too, identify primarily with the Democrat party and platform. I have yet to encounter any party, distinct or not, that better fits my ideals.

rikki's picture

More relevant than how much

More relevant than how much of the Democrats' platform you agree with is how much of it is relevant to Knox County. The basic point here is that affiliation with a national party is shortchanging local politics. I'm not baffled as to why voters might align with the Democratic Party. I'm baffled as to why local politics has to be crammed into the same box.

If the goal is to build political strength at the county level, the first step should be becoming a local party. I guess there is some truth to Democrats preferring top-down, centralized solutions, so maybe weakness at the local level is an inherent feature of the party.

TroyCG's picture

Running as a Democrat or Independent?

The structure of our electoral system strongly lends itself to a Two Party System in the USA. Independents may be viable in places like Vermont and Minnesota, but not here in the South. Well, maybe if the candidate is rich or famously well known...and wealthy.

One's ideology can take many permutations, but I believe you gotta choose one of the major parties when you are running for office in a non non-partisan race [hint, hint, Brian Stevens].

: )

We Democrats must rehabilitate, heck, resuscitate our "brand".

Based on my experience, I think that Democrats need to focus on economic issues and being the adult in the room. That's what worked for Phil Bredesen. Running against a mediocre-to-crummy Republican Nominee for an open seat helped, too.

We can be pro-environment, pro-equality, and pro-choice (and should be), but those should not be the defining issues that we campaign on.

I am not talking about GOP-lite!!!

We run on our core principles of being the Party that supports the working person of modest means. We run against a broken system that only looks out for the interests of the wealthy, the well-connected, and the corporate special interests. We focus on fairness, true equal opportunity, and when pressed on social issues we champion individual liberty and rights.

Flush the 12-Point Plans down the commode, and start talking in language that is value-based. We have lost our connection with the Average Joe and Jo-Ann, and that's what the Democratic Party needs to recoup if we're ever gonna be viable in East Tennessee.

Average Guy's picture

We run on our core principles

We run on our core principles of being the Party that supports the working person of modest means.

Like education that's based on science and for everybody, not based on creationism and a voucher system.

Like a health care system that doesn't bankrupt people who actually have health insurance, not to mention the ones that can't afford insurance and use ER's as a costly first (or last) resort.

Like having a new New Deal for this country. One that focuses on improving our electrical and data grids. One that fixes current infrastructure issues while planning ahead for new innovations.

Like substantive energy changes.

To help the average person, the Democratic Party should run on Dick Cheney's famous quote: "deficits don't matter."

In a day when the conversation falls somewhere between let's do just enough to tow the line or impose massive cuts, selling the idea of "we need to do A LOT more" is a loser.

But that doesn't make it wrong. Or wrong forever. To subject yourself to an argument with this incarnation of the Republican Party, is like arguing with the past in the past.

EricLykins's picture

In a day when the

In a day when the conversation falls somewhere between let's do just enough to tow the line or impose massive cuts, selling the idea of "we need to do A LOT more" is a loser.

But that doesn't make it wrong. Or wrong forever.

The chief economist at the IMF was talking about that just last week: "Um, yeah, oops, sorry about that."

bizgrrl's picture

Well said. Thanks.We have

Well said. Thanks.

We have lost our connection with the Average Joe and Jo-Ann

I thought about that yesterday. Everyone talks about how Campfields does a lot of door-to-door and handshaking. More candidates need to get into that mode, get to know the locals.

AnonymousOne's picture

Remember Campfield didn't get

Remember Campfield didn't get the majority of GOP primary votes last time.

He won a plurality with the help, either intentional or unintentional, of Steve Hill.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


More relevant than how much of the Democrats' platform you agree with is how much of it is relevant to Knox County. The basic point here is that affiliation with a national party is shortchanging local politics.

Gotcha, Rikki--and we've talked here before about the often non-partisan nature of local politics.

Just to clarify, though, I didn't say I don't agree with all of the Democrats' platform (I do), I said I don't always agree with the votes they cast in support of that platform.

It's that vote Dems cast last year to cap the lottery scholarship at 120 hours that is fresh on my mind...

In that instance, I support the Dem platform to afford access to higher ed to more students, I just disagree that pulling my high-achieving kid's scholarship after seven semesters was the way to do it.

I think students' broader access to higher ed is better afforded by spending on interventions earlier, like in high school, to ensure that more are prepared for college.

I'm squirmy to think anyone would paint me "not a Dem" just because I disagree with those legislators as to method.

Thanks and carry on.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


What Knox County really needs is an inversion of the Tea Party gimmick. Form a new party united around a simple concept; run on the Democrat's primary ballot while forging a distinct party identity. Or just run on only the general ballot.

But Rikki, the "Tea Party gimmick" appears to me to be little more than to exaggerate certain elements of the Republican platform in a noisy, extremist manner to the embarrassment of the party's traditional membership--and the extremists' run looks to be about over?

Your next suggestion, that Dems should "form a new party united around a simple concept," makes more sense to me than does any usurpation of the existing party.

Usurpation doesn't seem to be working for the Tea Party?

knoxrebel's picture

Summing up . . .

I'm sure that several of the folks who have commented on this thread are "Democrats," but I find it a bit troubling that few, if any, elected party officers have seen fit to chime in on the issues raised here, even though most, if not all, of these issues should be important to them. Perhaps there's some reluctance to participate for fear of being labeled a supporter or detractor or being affiliated with some notion or another or for not wanting to appear to be critical of the local party. But it can't be disputed that there are problems and that they not only need to be addressed, but solved. It sure would have been nice to have heard from some party officers, representatives, or precinct chairs about those issues. Still, I think it's been a useful, constructive, and productive discussion of the issues facing local Democrats, and I thank everyone who commented for their time and for their words.

It occurs to me that some folks within the local party might consider this article not to be in the party's "best interests." It further occurs to me that some may even think my own comments are made for some ulterior purpose. To those, I'd like to say that the only way local Democrats are going to become competitive in countywide and other races is if the penchant for intra-party division is undone.

From the Randy Nichols- Travis Brasfield days to now, there have been, to be sure, "factions" within the local party, and unfortunately, those factions have incessantly resulted in a weaker local Democratic Party. For a time, and maybe even now (although I've been on the sidelines for over 2 years), perhaps I was viewed as affiliated with one faction or another. This infighting may not have been the sole cause of Democratic woes over the past few years, but it has greatly contributed to them, for sure. For my part, I take full responsibility for anything I might have said or done that played a role in those woes.

But in my view, the only hope for future success for local Democrats in most districts and countywide is for all of those "factions" to come together and realize that the primary goal of the local Democratic Party is to elect Democrats. We can all disagree about how to accomplish that goal, but in the end, our success largely depends upon making the Democratic Party competitive again, making it attractive to potential candidates again, and letting every potential voter we can know about all the good things Democrats have done for them throughout history.

To do that, we can't appear to be a party in perpetual chaos, more adept at petty inside bickering than debating those issues that really matter to us and to voters. That means we all must sacrifice our . . . so-called affiliations with one faction or another and let go of our propensity for being so adroit at the art of brabbling.

There's an opportunity for Democrats to turn things around. In 2014, maybe we can run a well-qualified and popular candidate at the top of the ballot for County Mayor (one name rings a bell); maybe we can run a highly-qualified, experienced, and well-thought of Harvard Law School grad for DA; by doing so, and putting together a real plan, maybe we can recruit other qualified candidates to run for other countywide offices; and then, maybe we can focus on commission district races where we can be competitive. If you're a Democrat - of any faction - who cares about local offices and the direction of the party, what you can't do is sit on the sidelines while the GOP continues to run roughshod over Knox County for the foreseeable future.

AnonymousOne's picture

Anthony Hancock seems like a

Anthony Hancock seems like a capable, intelligent person.

And if he teaches Special Education in Knox County, I doubt there is much that could get to him.

He's a good listener, and to be a teacher like he is, probably has the patience of Job and then some.

May not have a full understanding of all the mechanics of the local party apparatus, but then who the hell does, and who thinks that's really necessary these days?

People want to be listened to, and they never think they are. Someone like Hancock could change that.

I don't know about the other candidates, but I think Hancock would bring qualities to the job that are in demand these days.

John Bohstedt's picture

Leadership is, as leadership has done

sorry but I find many of these comments odd: Talking about a number of people for County Dem chair who have not been seen at many Dem events, nor have they showed up to do the grunt work of GOTV, etc (see Obama campaign, 2012).

I think a good leader of the party should have a strong track record -- of having actually led people to accomplish something. That's why Gloria was such a great leader for the party. She had led a strong Obama office here in 2008, so people knew she could get the job done .

A problem in Dem leadership and elsewhere is the "missing generation." -- people between say 30 & 50/55. Of course that's when family and career concerns are the most pressing. Anybody got any thoughts on that -- in relation to kcdp leadership?

knoxrebel's picture

The notion that someone's not

The notion that someone's not a "good-enough Democrat" to be a party chair because they haven't "been seen at many Dem events" or "showed up to do the grunt work of GOTV" is a fairly narrow-minded concept, and it also hints at being exclusive as opposed to being inclusive. If there's a person out there who shares and professes Democratic beliefs and tends to vote that way, and who's smart and has the necessary skills to lead the Party, why do we need to saddle them with such other requirements? It might be that a fresh face, one not haunted by intra-party squabbles, is exactly what we're looking for as a leader. After all, let's face it, finding someone who does not offend one intra-party group or another is going to be amazingly difficult. Like it or not, most folks officially affiliated with as party officers, precinct chairs, etc., are affiliated or at least associated with one faction or another. Thus, someone who has "been around" long enough to be perceived as having such associations is going to be opposed right out of the gate by one or another group. That's exactly what we don't need.

This job can't merely be handed to someone just because they've "been around" the party and participated in "grunt work." I appreciate the implication that someone must have "paid their dues" in the party before moving on to such an important role, but to me, that's not nearly as critical as the other qualities a chair ought to possess, i.e., leadership, intelligence and being a good communicator and articulate. Perhaps these various qualities are not mutually exclusive and we can find an intelligent and articulate leader who has been around and paid his or her dues in other party positions, but we really should soften our "party resume" requirements or we might wind up losing out on one or more exceptional candidates.

stalwartdem's picture

Quit Backbenching and show up!!

for all those who seem disposed to diagnose from afar... call the KCDP office and find out about our events and Meeting and..SHOW UP AND CONTRIBUTE. NUFF SAID!

Pam Strickland's picture

Instead of making folks call

Instead of making folks call the office, why doesn't the KCDP publicize the events and meetings.

JohnB's picture

Party Announcements

Pam, I put out thousands of emails a month, as do other party leaders.

If anyone would like to be on my political announcement list, I could sure put them on.

We could do better with communications & following up with people who have used website channels.

R. Neal's picture

Please add

Please add RNeal@rviews.com

Used to get them sometimes from Gloria.

Haven't gotten any in a while.

knoxrebel's picture

I'm not diagnosing from afar

I'm not diagnosing from afar at all. This article was written to try to elicit candid, constructive and productive comments and suggestions about a problem that undeniably exists. That problem - well identified above - is that the local Democratic Party has its work cut out for it if it's going to become competitive again in county races and in 7 of the 9 Commission districts. No blame has been placed on anyone for the current situation. And I said from post number 1 that in this discussion, we needed to refrain from being critical of personalities and focus on the future. For the most part, I think that's been accomplished.

I haven't criticized anyone's leadership of the party, other than my own. If you're looking for scapegoats, blame me for everything, as far as I care, I'll take responsibility for it all. None of that matters now. The important thing is not what anyone might have done wrong 3-5 or 10 years ago, but what can we do in this next 14 months to steer things in the right direction. And we start doing that by electing in April the right person and team to lead the party in the coming years. If we fail, the next decade will be the worst years Democrats in this county have seen in a long time. Bank on it.

I'll say this, I've been a Democrat all my life and have lived in this county for most of it. My closest friends are Democrats. The love of my life lives here, as do my daughter, my grandchildren, my mom, my brothers, and a sister. What's happening in Knox County and across Tennessee matters a great deal to me. I'm not doing this for fun. It's serious. And with all due respect to my friend, John Bohstedt, we're on the verge of becoming irrelevant (some smart folks say we're already there) unless every one of us who claims to be a Democrat stops pointing fingers and steps up and tries to make a difference.

There's no use in trying to deflect. Democrats have a problem. Democrats need to fix it. All is not well. If you think everything's swell in Knox Couny for Democrats, you're living in a fairy tale. And while you may not admit it, others see it.

Since I was 18, I have participated in the local party, quite likely more than you can ever profess to doing. And trying to take people to task for making mostly constructive comments and for offering serious suggestions about what might be done in the future to get things back on track, is not a way to endear the Party to anyone, much less the person making the comment. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing, but far too many people who once considered themslves Democrats are now outside of the fold. They won't donate time or money or anything. We can't just say, "we don't need them." Of course, we need them, for without them, we're devolving into irrelevancy. The idea is to get them back and reach out and lure others not satisfied with the GOp option to join us, not insult them on a liberal blog. That's just one of the reasons we're in the predicament we're in now. Democrats chewing on other Democrats, or worse, chewing on people who might become Democrats. That's not growth, that's cannibalism. And no, you don't need to be down on Morgan Street or at a Club meeting to realize that. I've been down there and to almost every Democratic club meeting in this county, dozens of times. But even those who can't say that can still recognize that the Democratic Party is bleeding badly.

Enough of this stupidity that pits one group of Democrats against another. We have to grow up and quit acting like grade-school kids. In the past, it's not been "us" against "them,"it's been "us" against "us." The GOP doesn't have to divide and conquer Democrats, we do it ourselves. The sooner we all recognize and understand that, the sooner we realize that the "us" is Democrats and the "them" is the GOP.

JHayes's picture

Too Much Truth

There is too much truth in this post knoxrebel.

And I am someone who agrees with you on divisiveness. Back in my younger days, I used to attend meetings for the party and quite often it became very contentious and argumentative at just a regular meeting (not about Republicans, but about other Democrats). After a while, it gets old. In today's entertainment Era, there are other things people could be doing other than watching a group constantly bicker amongst themselves.

michael d.'s picture

Happy 51st Birthday to

Happy 51st Birthday to knoxrebel! Glad to hear from the older and wiser man. Maybe in a few years he can even be right on everything like me. Of course, I will always be older and wiser.

lonnie d.

lonnie's picture



Underthebusdem's picture

You say there are no young

You say there are no young people. Maybe, just maybe, the young people don't have time for nonsense anymore. It's absurd that every time a "young person" walks through the door of a campaign headquarters or tries to get involved in the county party, they are pushed away or relegated to the lowest work of the party and they never get other opportunities. It's breathtaking the number of those people who end up taking jobs in campaigns, for elected officials, or work in non profits outside the area when they are destroyed from within by the rank and file Democrats in Knoxville. The idea is to recruit and train young people and give them opportunities and allow them to stay here and use those talents to grow the party.

They have the right to speak and to lead but often reach a glass ceiling/glass wall/glass house of the Democratic Party and have no place else to go with it. Then, the party goes out, finds a new and easily manipulated (malleable) young person puts them through the same process and they, too, have no choice but to walk away. Here's my shortlist of young people (30-60 year olds) I worked with who disappeared from the local party in no particular order:

Courtney Piper
Zack Kelly
Elizabeth Clement
Kevin Barry
Liza Jean Holt
Schree Pettigrew
Stacy Diamond
Cindy Mcgill
Keith Odom
Brad Parish
Sarah Young

Has anyone discussed, yet, using some other system to allocate delegates to the local convention other than the current system (of the gubernatorial primary) that systematically suppresses the young vote?

Rachel's picture

It's absurd that every time a

It's absurd that every time a "young person" walks through the door of a campaign headquarters or tries to get involved in the county party, they are pushed away

It's not always just young people....

knoxrebel's picture

My guess is that part of the

My guess is that part of the reason for that happening is that they are at once confronted by a person who immediately feels. . . threatened . . . by their involvement. Ridiculous as its sounds, I've not only witnessed it, but I've also been the spurned volunteer. Rather than taking that opportunity to perhaps mentor a new and energetic activist, the campaign or party instead encourages the new activist to think that there's some sort of heirarchy and worse, that they're at the very bottom of it. I'm not suggesting that happens all the time, as there are some Democrats who'll do cartwheels when they see a new face at an event, but it should never happen at all. In the past 4 years, I've had high school and college kids call me and tell me they contacted a party official to see what they could doand left a number, only to never receive a return call or email or invite. That's just not going to get it done.

knoxrebel's picture

Of the 11 folks you refer to,

Of the 11 folks you refer to, I've had conversations with 7. Of those, I know Cortney and Zack to be pure Democrats. They may not be active any longer in the KCDP, for their own reasons, but I know where their allegiance lies when election day comes. And I'd take those two over almost any other Democrat in this town when the chips are down. Their credentials as Democrats, young as they are, can't be disputed. As for others on the list, well, only they can say why they're not as active in the party as they were at one point, but I doubt any of them have gone to the dark side. Still, having young folks like Zack Kelley, Cortney Piper and Liza Jean Holt around to work for candidates mattered. If we can't lure them back, we need to attract folks just like them. It's a priceless commodity for any candidate to have such minds and hard workers as those three to handle the nuts and bolts associated with a campaign.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Here in the 89th House district, the Dem party leadership has recently advised my neighbors to "keep away from (me)," that I am "dangerous" for having opined on this board that it didn't look to me like Shelley Breeding would be deemed a Knox County resident.

Apparently, the party leadership was not aware they'd advised my close friend of nearly 40 years to this effect.

Anyway, it's all my fault those two courts ruled as they did.

(Rolling eyes.)

lonnie's picture



knoxrebel's picture

Tamara, fortunately for

Tamara, fortunately for Democrats, you're not going to allow that type of behavior to influence your voting habits and your political leanings. However, others who are similarly offended might not be so rational and logical. Instead, they might swear never again to support another Democratic cause or candidate and wind up yet another Democrat spurned, turned away and lost, merely for expressing an opinion not in line with those so-called "Party folks. When will all of that lunacy end? Democrats cannot keep offending our own and expecting (or not caring for) the end effect of that sort of behavior. Perhaps the FX show, American Horror Story, has just found next year's site/theme/storyline, after this year's "Asylum."

AnonymousOne's picture

Interestingly enough, on this

Interestingly enough, on this day where a process that is at times disheartning, depressing, enraging, and engaging is celebrated by the results of the process, I find myself writing this. Many of my ideology seem to be in mourning.

The local Democrats now share this characteristic with national Republicans: results matter.

It seems it would be easier for local Democrats to appeal to the voters without "compromising" some of their most deeply held beliefs, than it will be for national Republicans to do so.

We'll see.

marytheprez's picture

I am glad this question has

I am glad this question has been asked, because I have worked from the inside our KCDP since 2009 when we re-organized after President Obama's election...as well as partly outside, working primarily for our President's re-election the last 6 months of 2012. (I did help with and attend events for most of our local candidates as well...all great, qualified...some maybe too qualified!)

Although some of the criticism, like members not relaying messages or some who have not represented the Party the best we could, were partly true, However, I can say, because I know, that this past year has resulted in new energy and new members coming to volunteer and help our candidates and the President. I do know why Mark Padgett did not win, and it had to do with the fact that KCDP had already decided that Madeline was our chosen candidate, if we had not not stated that fact, before Mark got into the race. His main problem, however, was the fact that he NEVER supported our Democratic Party platform. I was so horrified to his 'opinions' when he spoke to our District meeting, that I made it a point to explain why I could not vote for him. I could give examples, but there is not room here.

And as far as all the judges' and lawyers' names mentioned as being 'active Democrats', in 4 years I do not remember ANY of them coming to a Board Meeting, a District meeting or a special forum or a special Event, except for Truman Day...they apparently are considered 'active' because of the truth that they 'secretly' give monies when we ask.

Shelley Breeding was and is such a competent new and young face, I am confident she will be one of our future leaders...even if she has to buy a condo on Gay Street to prove to the Election Commission she is 'worthy'.

The PRIMARY qualification, in my opinion, for a new Party chair is that he or she be very familiar with our National, State and local Democratic Party Platform...believe in it, stand up for it, explain why, and do NOT waiver from what we, as Democrats believe in and what we will fight for...women's rights, equal pay for equal work, the right to join a union for better pay, benefits and safety on the job, affordable health care, and recently, sensible gun control policies that will protect us, our children and grandchildren, part of this issue being passing again the Violence Against Women Act...are just some statements contained in it. (Y'all remember Bill Phillips? Prime example of a real nut case who was a danger to everyone...I marched to get him off the School Board so he would not have unlimited access to our children and teachers. Where is he now? I hope locked up.)

And Doug Veum is so very qualified to hold any office in our Party. He even is host of our DTV TV spot every other Friday night where he mentions all upcoming events we work on. He also has guests who talk about specific issues like fiscal policy, etc. (I had tried to get announcements of upcoming events in KNS or MetroPulse but most were totally ignored.) I do have names of others, devoted to our Democratic Party and its goals and ideals... who would LOVE to go one-on-one with the Idiot Campfield!
We do have great new young people who are getting involved...and of the names of the 'young Democrats' who have 'disappeared', I know where most of them are...and they are doing their own thing, but no longer want to help KCDP.
Glad you asked for our opinions. And if any of you want to get involved with KCDP, let me know. Our District 1 meetings are held most times at Headquarters; we welcome anyone and everyone who wants to be part of KCDP!

knoxrebel's picture

Mary, I'm sure you are quite

Mary, I'm sure you are quite right, that the party gained new volunteers over the past 4-5 years. Unfortunately, the party lost many times whatever it may have gained by alienating and outright ousting a substantial number of hard-working Democrats. One step forward and three steps back.

As for the KCDP pre-selecting a candidate in a primary, that's a no-no. What message does that send to prospective candidates? The party must never pre-select a candidate when another Democrat is in the field, and say what you will about Padgett, his history, working for other Democrats, working for Bredesen, attending and speaking to Democrat clubs, gave every indication that he was a Democrat. Madeline is great, but in 5 years of attending virtually every Democrat club in town on a monthly basis, Madeline never showed up. Mark did, and he wasn't running for anything. So, it's a bit disturbing that a party insider such as yourself would now say the deck was stacked.

If a judge or a lawyer is an elected Democrat and sits on the bench or in office representing the Democratic Party, they're pretty active in my book. Besides, judges' hands are pretty much tied as far as political activities go. I know Judge Leibowitz has attended party functions. As for our DA, he came to the '07 convention, nominated me as I recall, but I'd like to think he's representing the Democratic Party every day he walks into his office.

I agree with you wholeheartedly on your recitation of issues that we must stand behind as Democrats.

Erin Lonas's picture

chosen candidate

Mary, As the 1st District Rep., please enlighten us on how a candidate gets to be on the KCDP "chosen candidate" list? Is there an application process or fee? Is there an application deadline? Do you guys do interviews? Is the public welcome to attend? Does the Board of Governors vote on this or does it require a big meeting for the entire executive committee? Does it require a quorum? Are the applicants notified of your decision? What becomes of candidates that fail to apply? Has there been any discussion of notifying the public, so that we aren't wasting our precious contributions on the wrong race?

knoxrebel's picture

And this notion of party-bias

And this notion of party-bias was one of the factors that caused me to run as an Independent against Amy Broyles and not oppose her in the Democratic Primary in '10. I was told, in unambiguous terms, that the party was backing her, no matter what, and would support her in any primary challenge, despite my deep Democratic credentials (volunteer for dozens of candidates and manager of dozens of campaigns over 32 years, ward and party chair, contributor of tens of thousands of dollars to local, state and national Democratic candidates, etc).

It is not the place of the local, state or national parties to pre-choose a candidate to support in a primary. There used to be a provision in the national and state party bylaws that made that very clear: the party stays out of primaries. It's a shame if that's not the case.

marytheprez's picture

I did not mean that the KCDP

I did not mean that the KCDP 'pre-selected' Madeline as our candidate for Mayor. Mark declared late in the contest. I had never, as an elected District Rep, ever met Mark Padgett from 2009 until after he declared he was running. Our District repeatedly invited him to speak at our meetings but he did not appear until after the run-off. Then he proceeded to try to get to every Dem group, and all District meetings, but he did NOT represent our Party platform. I do know where he got those infamous 12,000 votes as I have learned so much about current Knox County, and City politics. But that opinion is based on my inside observations and info I would not reveal.

And like one of the comments here, I believe we have to represent OUR convictions and, like it was implied, not suck up or be 'GOP-lite'. The GOP has run our State Government into a ditch, and embarassed us with the crazy 'monkey' bills, the creationism/no science bills, the anti-Muslim mess, and anything Campfield said or did! The Lobbyists-run Legislature did not create one job and has focused on taking away Constitutional rights instead of protecting our citizens' rights...
I have discovered this summer, working for the President and our local candidates, a whole group of NEW interested folks who are life-long Democrats who want to get involved NOW. Many of them helped with several campaigns, co-sponsored local events for OTHER groups but wanted to help us...and now they are already involved...over 300 folks e-mailed me to attend one event I organized in Sept...and we WILL give them jobs to do so they can be involved, moving forward. And I worked with 3 distinct groups other than Dems, mostly professional and working women who are committed to positive change on issues important to them...the Affordable Care Act, JOBS, gun control issues, especially against putting guns in hands of teachers, etc.

And I also support Anthony, and Dr. Troy, and Doug...some of the gals mentioned have already said they are not interested in running for County Chair now, but that is OK.

marytheprez's picture

OH, shoot, I forgot 3 more super Dems for County Chair!

John Bohstedt, excellent leader, retired UT professor, hard worker for causes he believes in like PUBLIC Schools
Jerome Miller, leader in his community, who ran a super campaign last year and who WILL stay committed to his Democratic principals
Dr. Mark Harmon, Professor at UT, author, awesome and outspoken against the GOP ignorance...he has actually run for State public office...in TEXAS...what a fun story that is

We have many capable, strong Democrats who can lead us into the future. I have friends from Johnson City to Overton County, good citizens, Democrats and non-partisan, who have become so disgusted with this State Government...that with just a bit of encouragement, they are ready to join us and get some good candidates willing to run against the Wholy owned Legislature (GOP) and Governor's office. Haslam has totally caved to these idiots, drunk drivers, wife abusers who sit in those seats, draw their per diem and do NOTHING to help this State.

Oh, and I think, from what I have heard, that Dave Garrison is the best choice to lead our State Party. I love Senator Herron, but his positions against our Platform, and his support from the NRA...no way I could endorse him for my State Chair...

knoxrebel's picture

What will Garrison bring to

What will Garrison bring to the party that Forrester didn't? Forrester had 4 years to do something. Electing Garrison chair just adds another two years of the same policies and priorities advanced by Forrester. Forrester's 4 years have been disastrous to Tennessee Democrats, and it will take us a decade or more to even put a dent in undoing his failures. Garrison is Forrester's hand-picked successor. That says all I need to know.

Is Herron as progressive as we want? Of course not. Can he get us back on track? That's the question. As chairman, his views on guns, abortion, etc are meaningless. What matters is he's a winner and we need wins right now more than we need an intra-party ideological struggle. If it's down to him or Garrison, we have to opt for a change in direction and Garrison is not going to change that direction, he's just going to set in motion the next chapter of the Forrester playbook.

Back to Knox County, there's only one thing that would make me even consider a run for party chair again at any time in the future, and you mentioned it in your post.

Local Citizen's picture

GOP message

Here is a quote from the current GOP meeting in SC:

"If we're not nominating candidates that can win in the general election, what business are we in?" Barbour said. "We are in the business of winning elections."

Perhaps the Democrats should take that stance in Tennessee.

knoxrebel's picture

Republicans get it, why can't we?

Sorry as I can be to say it, but Republicans, even a moron like Barbour, get it. You can't govern sitting from an idealogical perch. Democrats have to learn how to win again. If we start doing that, maybe we can start making some of our wishes come true, like undoing the carnage inflicted on Tennesseans by the GOP these past two-plus years. It's awfully nice to talk about principles, to vote that way even, but talk and 35-40% of the vote do not allow you to govern anything other than your own mind.

Rachel's picture

I've stayed out of most of

I've stayed out of most of this discussion, but here's what I think the trick is.

I've already said I'm pretty pragmatic when it comes to politics. So I get that ideological purity is a bad way to run a party. God knows, the Rs are proving that nationally these days.

Ah yes, the trick: it's maintaining basic principles while still being flexible and pragmatic enough to appeal to enough folks to win. T'aint easy, but the right person can pull it off.

knoxrebel's picture



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