Tag Archives: bona fide

Mark Clayton & Vetting Democrats in the Future (Maybe)

Jeff Woods, in a Nashville Scene article, spends some time with Mark Clayton and then meanders into party efforts to make sure someone like him doesn’t win a major Democratic primary in the future. The effort apparently isn’t going smoothly so far.
Apparently in an attempt to show Democrats are moving forward, as Forrester claims, one Executive Committee member, Cleveland lawyer Jim Bilbo, has been asked to develop proposals to change the party’s bylaws to prevent a nutty fringe candidate from ever again topping the ticket.
Under this plan, the party would try to strike wack jobs from the ballot ahead of time. The difficulty lies in trying to distinguish lunatics from ordinary Democrats. Even Bilbo concedes it’s basically an impossible task.
“We’re in the process of trying to come up with a way to vet candidates and see if they are bona fide Democrats,” Bilbo said.
“Part of that process is coming up with a definition of what is a bona fide Democrat and, you know, it’s not that easy to do.
“Frankly, we have members of the Democratic Party who are members for just a wide variety of reasons. I count myself as an example of that. I’m an evangelical Christian, belong to a Pentecostal church and have been actively involved in my church virtually all of my life. I’m very much pro-life, believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. I own guns and nobody’s going to take them away from me, and I believe we pay too much in taxes, and I believe that government is too big and too intrusive in our lives. But there are other reasons that I’m a Democrat. So our task will be to try to come up with some kind of objectivity.”
There is a current standard for bona fide Democrats in the party’s bylaws. A candidate needs to have voted in at least three of the past five party primaries. Under that rule, the party could have disqualified Clayton.
Bilbo thinks even that’s too restrictive, however. He believes the party should “expand it a little bit more and perhaps make it a little more inclusive of everybody’s right to run as long as they adhere to the basic core principles of the Democratic Party.”
…Be that as it may, Cheek thinks it’s foolish even to try to define a bona fide Democrat. He points out there have been many crazy Democrats in Tennessee history — notably the late John Wilder, the state’s (ahem) somewhat unorthodox lieutenant governor for nearly 40 years. Wilder held power in a cabal with Republicans, and there were constant calls for Democrats to kick him out of the party for his various betrayals of so-called principle. But they never did.
…”If you don’t have a candidate, you don’t have a candidate,” Cheek said. “You could pitch one guy off the ballot and then you might just wind up with another fruit loop. Who knows? You can’t figure it out. It’s a total exercise in futility. It’s not even a slippery slope. It’s a cliff.”