Former state Sen. Roy Herron became the Tennessee Democratic Party’s new chairman Saturday, winning a solid majority of executive committee members’ votes despite criticism he is too conservative on some issues such as abortion.
From the Andy Sher report: The 59-year-old Dresden attorney outpolled Dave Garrison, a Nashville attorney, 39-27. Garrison was backed by the state’s two Democratic congressmen along with House and Senate Democratic Caucus leaders and the mayors of Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, as well as labor unions.
Herron will lead an embattled party that has seen Republicans seize the governor’s mansion and absolute control of the state Legislature.
Following his election, Herron charged that under Republican rule, “we’ve gone from common sense to nonsense.”
He accused the GOP of “trying to destroy the public schools” and said “those things that unite us as Democrats are far more important than those things that divide us.”
But his election left some Democrats uneasy.
At the end of the meeting, executive committee member Jerry Maynard, a Metro Nashville councilman, took the unusual step of asking Herron to declare his support of President Barack Obama.
Maynard said he had never heard Herron endorse Obama during the election campaign.
“I voted for the president, I announced I was for the president, I told anybody who asked me that I was for the president,” Herron replied. “I support the president, I support what he’s trying to do for the country, and I support the United States of America.”
…Herron succeeds Chip Forrester, who was elected four years ago despite opposition from top Democrats such as former Gov. Phil Bredesen and major party fundraisers. They punished Forrester by largely withholding support for the party.
Speaking before the vote, Forrester said he now was sorry he ran “without the support of the majority of the elected officials of this state.”
“Because of that I and my staff have faced an uphill battle for four years unifying this party.”
On the eve of the election of a new chairman for the Tennessee Democratic Party, there’s a bunch of commentary on the race among Democratic-oriented bloggers. Much of it is themed on concern about Roy Herron’s apparent lead over Dave Garrison – and Herron’s credentials as a ‘progressive’ Democrat — in the contest that will be decided Saturday. A good summary with links is HERE.
I would add a link to the Pam Strickland perspective, HERE. And maybe David Briley’s email, HERE.
Jane Hampton Bowen has withdrawn as a candidate for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, the Chattanooga TFP reports, leaving the contest a two-man race that will be decided Jan. 26. “The race is now one between two strong Democrats,” Hampton Bowen, vice president and political liaison for the Chattanooga Area Labor Council, said in a statement. “My job now becomes one of support and input toward the reinvigoration of the Democratic Party in Tennessee.”
She said she’s looking forward to “continuing my quest for a more inclusive party, especially for working men and women, a party that stands for the rights and ideals of both urban and rural Tennesseans.”
Hampton Bowen did not endorse either of the two remaining candidates, Nashville lawyer Dave Garrison, currently party treasurer, and former state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden.
Earlier this week Wade Munday, the party’s former communications chair, dropped out of the contest, announced he was running for treasurer and threw his support to Garrison. Ben Smith, a Nashville attorney, withdrew days earlier, throwing his support to Herron.
…Garrison has the backing of U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, as well Democrats serving as mayors of Tennessee’s three biggest cities, A C Wharton, of Memphis; Madeline Rogero, of Knoxville; and Karl Dean, of Nashville.
— UPDATE: Steven Hale reports that Herron claims to have 42 of the Demoratic Executive Committee’s 72 members committed to him. He sent a list of the 42 — reproduced by Hale — in an email to members of the panel.
Note: Bowen’s statement on withdrawing is below.
The Democratic Party’s influence may be shrinking in Tennessee, but competition to rule over it has become something of a crowded field, observes Andrea Zelinski in a rundown on the race to succeed Chip Forrester as TNDP chairman. From all appearances, (former state Sen. Roy Herron’s) strongest rival for the job is Dave Garrison, who has worked closely with the party’s board for three years as treasurer. Following him are former party communications director Wade Munday and vice president and political liaison for the Chattanooga Area Labor Council Jane Hampton Bowen.
…Herron officially committed to joining the race during the holiday break, a decision he said he had put off after dealing with deaths and illnesses in his family. But the late start isn’t the only factor that sets him apart from his opponents.
Herron is a life member of the National Rifle Association with a legislative record that includes favorable votes for contentious bills the party fought strongly against, such as allowing guns in bars and parks. He has also positioned himself as anti-abortion, although like his Democratic counterparts he voted repeatedly against movements to insert anti-abortion language into the state Constitution.
…Herron’s fans say his experience on the campaign trail set him apart from the competition. And although Herron insists he’s not thinking about a bid for higher office, some think he could revisit his abandoned try for governor in the long term and that ultimately, it would be a win-win for the party.
“To even have a shot at statewide office, the party needs to be in better shape. So maybe that would be a good thing, because the party needs to be better off for him to swing that,” said Ben Smith, a former hopeful for the chairman’s seat who exited the race last week in favor of Herron.
A Nashville attorney, Garrison is in his first race with his own name on a ballot.
“I don’t take it as a criticism that I haven’t been running elections for 20 years,” said Garrison. “I think it’s an asset that I bring a fresh perspective, but the know-how and the ability to build coalitions and get things done at the party.”
“I don’t believe that the chair of the party necessarily needs to be a political candidate,” he added. “It needs to be somebody’s who’s raised money for others, and the party; it needs to be somebody that can build coalitions; it needs to be somebody that can run and manage an organization, and it needs to be somebody who can bring people that are not at the table back to the table or new people to the table of the Democratic Party,” he said.
Former state Sen. Roy Herron said Friday that he’s running for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, joining a crowded field of candidates looking for the chance to steer the party onto more solid footing in the state, reports Michael Cass Herron, who did not seek re-election to the Senate in November, said he decided to jump into the chairmanship race after a family member’s health issue was resolved late last week. He said he didn’t think it was too late to win this election, which the state party’s 72 executive committee members will decide on Jan. 26.
“It’s clear no one has a majority,” he told The Tennessean. “If I thought the election was over, I wouldn’t be getting in the race.”
…He joins at least four other candidates for the state party’s chairmanship: Jane Hampton Bowen, the political liaison for a Chattanooga labor group; Dave Garrison, a Nashville lawyer and the party’s current treasurer; Wade Munday, a Nashville nonprofit executive who once served as the party’s spokesman, and Ben Smith, a Nashville lawyer who advised Jason Powell in his successful run for the state legislature this year.
State Rep. Sherry Jones, who considered running, told The Tennessean earlier Friday that she probably wouldn’t seek the position. Jones said she has “too much going on” and that she doesn’t think a woman can win the post right now.
Michael Cass, in a blog post, is one up — well, two up, actually — on the New York Times in reporting on Tennessee bundlers for the Obama campaign. Obama campaign documents obtained by The New York Times show how much money the president’s “bundlers” had raised through May, including three men from Nashville.
But the newspaper’s list is incomplete, omitting the names of two other Nashville-based fund-raisers who have raised at least $250,000 combined.
The list published by the Times says real estate mogul Bill Freeman raised $489,483 in 2011 and the first five months of 2012, while Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester raised $362,475 and state party treasurer Dave Garrison brought in $316,050.
…it doesn’t include two other Nashville bundlers who are known to have raised a good bit more than $500 apiece: attorney Charles Robert Bone and venture capitalist Andrew Byrd.
A bundler list the Obama campaign released in late January showed Bone had raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the re-election effort, while Byrd had brought in between $50,000 and $100,000.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s athletic department posted a $3.98 million deficit for the2011-12 fiscal year that forced it to use a substantial portion of its financial reserves, department officials acknowledged Monday.
Although the athletic department made $106.5 million in revenues, it had $110.5 million in expenses. Those expenses included hefty buyouts to former athletic director Mike Hamilton, football coach Phillip Fulmer, men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and baseball coach Todd Raleigh. When Hamilton resigned in June 2011, he received a $1.3 million buyout over three years. Fulmer received a buyout of $6 million over four years after getting fired in 2008.
Tennessee also has more than $200 million in outstanding debt related to the construction and renovation of various athletic facilities on campus.
The deficit, first reported Monday by The Sports Animal radio station in Knoxville, caused the athletic department’s reserves to dip to slightly below $2 million.
Tennessee Republicans think they can turn yet another state House seat their way this year in a district stretching from Goodlettsville to Bellevue, reports the Tennessean. But Democrats believe they have a strong candidate to keep the District 50 seat in Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, who will face one of three relative newcomers from the GOP ranks. Democratic state Rep. Gary Moore, a union advocate like Mitchell, is retiring after representing the district for eight years.
Early voting starts today. Mitchell, 41, is running unopposed on the Democratic side. The Republican race features Dwight “DJ” Farris, a 25-year-old Realtor; Dave Hall, 24, who works with data for Wyndham Resorts; and Charles Williamson, 51, a geologist, business owner and bison rancher.
…Both Williamson and Hall ran for House seats in 2010, while Farris is making his first bid for public office. Williamson lost to state Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory in District 51. Hall was the Republican nominee in District 50. He drew more than 42 percent of the vote but couldn’t unseat Moore.
Moore made an issue two years ago of the fact that Hall lived with his parents, which still appears to be the case. Hall and his father, Senate District 20 candidate David Hall, listed the same address and phone number when they qualified to run in April.
Hall said he’s legally old enough to run and that he would focus on cutting taxes, confronting illegal immigration and communicating with the people he hopes to represent.
“If you’re here illegally, we need to deport you,” he said. “We need you to come here through the proper channels.”
Farris, who said he closed his first real estate deal when he was a 20-year-old sophomore at Lipscomb University, said he would work to reduce regulations on businesses and create an environment that encourages student achievement and rewards successful teachers.
“People are ready to see someone that’s focused on creating jobs,” he said. “They understand that government does best when it gets out of the way of small business.”
Farris has been endorsed by Tennessee Right to Life, a pro-life group.
Williamson did not return two phone calls or an email seeking an interview this week. In a response to a request for basic information last month, he wrote that he decided to run because “I want to give back in a meaningful way and represent my neighbors with common sense leadership and a sincere willingness to work across party lines for solutions that keep Tennessee vibrant and strong.”
News Sentinel reporter Mike Donilla discovered his local Pilot station had stopped its policy of providing a free cigarette lighter with the purchase of three packs of cigarettes. This led to further discovery that Pilot was apparently breaking the law with its practice and to a post on Donilla’s blog that some may find entertaining — though probably not Dave Smith, the governor’s press secretary
An excerpt: So I call Cynthia Moxley. (Actually I had already called her earlier.)… of Moxley Carmichael for those living under a rock are pretty good flacks. For flacks. They represent the News Sentinel, although if you asked me what they do for us, I’d answer with a blank stare. But, they also represent the Haslams or Pilot, or whatever.
So, I tell her the story. She laughs. Says either she or Alan Carmichael will check it out for me. (Oh yeah, at some point I called Big Jim, the patriarch of the Haslam family, but got his voice mail.)
So, Thursday evening Alan calls me back. He’s finally gotten to the bottom of the story, although he wasn’t very clear. But who cares. It’s PR, rights?
He said the reason they stopped handing out lighters to anyone dumb enough to slap $15 in coin down for three packs of cancer sticks is because there’s some state tobacco law that won’t let you give away anything that would entice cigarette sales.
“It’s a state prohibition against doing that and once they realized it, they said they can’t do that,” said Carmichael.
Me: “So, uh, you’re telling me they were breaking the law then?”
Carmichael: Long, uneasy silence.
Carmichael: “Let’s just say they ceased doing that.”
Oh well, whatever. I guess the moral of the story is that every once in awhile Dave Smith is right. Naw screw that. He’s not right. And gas prices are still too high.