New group to recruit, train Democratic women as candidates

News release from Emerge Tennessee
Nashville — Emerge Tennessee, a statewide organization that will recruit and train Democratic women to run for office at all levels of government in Tennessee, launched last (week) in Nashville with trailblazers from the Volunteer State as well as a newly elected state representative from Kentucky, who in May became the first African American woman to be elected to the state legislature there since 2000.

A collection of quotes from last night’s speakers:

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan first ran for the Tennessee General Assembly in 1993 and has won all 15 times she has run for elected office since. Mayor McMillan was the first female mayor of a Tennessee city with a population greater than 100,000 and was the first, and only, woman to serve as House Majority Leader.

“What I needed was an organization just like Emerge Tennessee when I first ran for office,” she said.

She said she is concerned that she was the first and only woman to be House Majority Leader: “It’s only great being first if there’s a second and a third.”

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini, the second female chair of the TNDP stated, “We need to look to the future. The future is running women candidates. When women run, women win.”

“Emerge America is coming to Tennessee before almost any other national organization,” she added.

Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn, the only African American woman to be elected to a Constitutional office in Metro: “Being Davidson County Clerk gives me the opportunity to serve the community I love.”

Kentucky State Representative-elect Attica Scott, the first African American woman to be elected to the Kentucky legislature in almost two decades and an Emerge Kentucky alumna: “We’re here tonight to launch Emerge Tennessee and know that Emerge Kentucky has your back!”

In May, Scott defeated a 34-year incumbent by a margin of almost two to one. She did it using the skills she had learned as one of the first graduates of Emerge Kentucky’s program in 2010. Scott noted that eight Emerge Kentucky alumnae ran for office in May and all won. Scott is a former member of the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council.

Emerge Tennessee plans to announce its Board of Directors in the coming weeks and plans to kick-off its inaugural training program in early 2017. The Emerge model is an intensive 70-hour, cohort-based training program, designed explicitly to address the extra challenges that women face in the political arena by offering early-stage recruitment; top-notch, comprehensive training; and an ongoing network of support.

Emerge Tennessee’s work will be critical to increasing the number of Democratic women serving in public office at all levels of government in Tennessee and achieving gender parity in our political representation. Despite making some gains over the past few decades, women are still sorely underrepresented in the state. Women comprise a mere 16.7 percent of the state legislature. What’s more, only two of Tennessee’s nine U.S. Representatives are women and the state has never elected a female U.S. Senator or Governor.