The Shelby County Democratic Party was forcibly disbanded Friday, punctuating years of bitter in-fighting that have recently revolved around former chairman Bryan Carson, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini said she notified SCDP chairman Michael Pope in a letter Friday that she had chosen to “de-certify” the state’s largest county party, effectively disbanding it.
“Shelby County is very valuable to the Democratic party because there are some good and active Democrats in this county,” she said. “The decision was made because the Shelby County Democratic Party was not supporting, engaging and encouraging all those good and active Democrats.”
In the letter, she said the TNDP would work with local Democrats to “determine their own needs, evaluate the effectiveness of past bylaws and leadership, elect officers and executive committee members, and enact reforms that bring in new people and build a strong grassroots organization.”
Corey Strong, a state party executive committee member representing Memphis, said a party whose main purpose was to organize support around electing Democratic candidates had been rendered ineffective by internal issues, as displayed in past elections.
Most recently, county party members have quarrelled about how to handle allegations that former chairman Carson embezzled more than $25,000 in his tenure. At the direction of Mancini, SCDP chairman Pope approved a $6,000 settlement with Carson, even though the county executive committee had already approved a resolution to file charges against Carson, leading to shouting matches at recent committee meetings.
Strong said the party was being disbanded because it wasn’t “living up to its purpose.”
“This is not about an individual,” he said. “This is about a systemic inability to meet the party’s own charter and the minimum requirements of the state party.”
He said state executive committee members from Memphis were the ones who pushed Mancini to decertify the party because they didn’t want the party to “flounder on the local level.”
Carson and his mother, Gale Jones Carson, are both members of the state executive committee.
Strong said the party would be reorganized, possibly as early as November, under the supervision of local elected Democrats. The party’s money would be moved into a trust until the party is reconstituted. A meeting with party stakeholders is scheduled in two weeks, Mancini said.