Notes on Democrats: Money & 12 ‘Opportunities’

Democrats will be focusing on a dozen seats now held by Republicans in efforts to regain control of the state House next year, Rep. Mike Turner has told the Tennessee Democratic Executive Committee.
Turner, who is House Democratic Caucus chairman, also said Saturday that the party is hopeful of getting financial help from groups outside the state, perhaps including the Democratic National Committee.
The DNC normally is focused on races for the federal office. But state legislators elected next year will oversee reapportionment following the 2010 census – including U.S. House districts.
Thus, there is much interest among national Democrats in seeing that the party has control of at least one House during redistricting to block Republicans from enacting a plan that could give the GOP an advantage for the next decade in legislative and congressional elections.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, who is governor of Virginia, met with Tennessee party leaders Friday, according to state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester, and indicated DNC’s willingness to help.
Turner said there are other Democrat-oriented groups that may also provide financial fuel for the legislative campaigns next year. While declining to discuss them in detail, Turner said in an interview that he has his third out-of-state trip scheduled next week to talk about the possibilities.
Turner faced some critical questioning from executive committee members who basically contended that some Democratic legislative candidates were neglected in past elections by the party and legislative caucuses.
Turner replied that, realistically, Democrats must concentrate resources on districts that do not tilt strongly toward either party. But he said that “hopefully” money will be available next year to devote attention to districts where the odds are against Democrats.
In the interview, Turner declined to list the “12 opportunities” the party sees for unseating Republicans beyond those he said were obvious, namely freshmen Republicans in competitive districts.
He named Reps. Joe Carr of Rutherford County and Tony Shipley of Kingsport. Both won previously Democratic seats in 2008. Shipley, Turner said, “has done so much crazy stuff” that Democrats would have difficulty in deciding what to emphasize to voters in a campaign. Former Rep. Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport, who lost to Shipley in a close race last year, has indicated he will seek a rematch.
Bredesen Helping Too
Democrats faced considerable intra-party feuding earlier this year after Forrester was elected chairman over a candidate endorsed by Gov. Phil Bredesen and most of the state’s Democratic congressmen.
Party officials went to some lengths Saturday to declare that was all in the past. Bredesen described Jackson Day as “a solidarity event” and said he plans to be active in promoting Democratic legislative candidates next year.
The governor said the Democratic party includes people “with a lot of different views,” but suggested opposing factions “leave a little bit of your ideology aside” in coming combat with Republicans.
Reporter Ousted
Though the official schedule of Jackson Day events declared the Executive Committee meeting open to media, the only reporter present (yours truly) was told to leave during a presentation of Democrat plans to counter Republican “voter suppression” efforts in the 2010 election.
Keith Talley, the party’s press secretary, subsequently said the eviction was a mistake and apologized.
Both parties generally allow media at executive committee meetings. In recent years, Republicans have had more closed sessions than Democrats and, of course, the GOP last year declared the entire Statesmen’s Dinner fundraiser closed to the media when Karl Rove was scheduled as keynote speaker.

One thought on “Notes on Democrats: Money & 12 ‘Opportunities’

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