Tag Archives: Forrester

Notes on Tennesseans at the Democratic National Convention

Believing in President Obama
Tennessee delegates to the Democratic National Convention are supportive of President Obama despite what pollsters describe as an “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans this year, reports Michael Collins in a setup story on the state’s representatives to the Charlotte gathering.
“It’s really fascinating,” Gloria Johnson, a delegate from Knoxville, said of the convention experience. “You’re sitting there, and there is George Stephanopoulos four seats down. There are all these people there, and nobody cares. We are all there to nominate the person we want to be president.”
Four years ago, Johnson attended her first political convention. She had never been involved in a political party or politics, yet she was so inspired by Obama that she became politically active. Now, she’s chairwoman of the Knox County Democratic Party and a candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Like Dayton and other Obama believers, Johnson was convinced four years ago that as president he would bring about much-needed changes. In her view, he has.
He got health care reform passed, ended the “don’t ask don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the msitary, signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law and offered a stimulus package that created millions of private sector jobs, Johnson said

Ashley Judd: Star of the TN Show
Entertainer Ashley Judd, a Tennessee delegate to the convention, tells the Tennessean she’s a dedicated activist.
“I’ve been a Democrat for a very long time,” Judd said. “Family lore says that my beloved great-aunt, Pauline, who lived on a farm in Lawrence County in Eastern Kentucky, named all her dogs after Democrats.”
This week Judd, a famous actress, activist and Williamson County resident, is taking her partisanship to a new level as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. She’s an at-large member of the Tennessee delegation and a campaign surrogate for President Barack Obama, speaking to supporters on his behalf.
And she says her ties to the party run even deeper than those born of family lore.
“The party platform is one of a social justice gospel and faith. It became my party based on a sense of equality and fairness, hard work and advocating for people living at and below the poverty line and helping them strive toward our fabled middle class.”

Clayton Takes a Swat at the Chair
While party unity is a theme at the Democratic convention, Michael Cass reports that disavowed U.S. Senate nominee, Mark Clayton, wasn’t on board, providing a pre-convention parting shot at Tennessee’s party chairman.
Clayton released a lengthy statement Friday that attacked Forrester (without ever daring to mention his name) and the party for supporting gay marriage, saying that stance puts the Democratic establishment out of step with most voters.
“The current TNDP chairman and staff are finding themselves politically isolated and left to represent, with taxpayer funds, the fringe of anti-family, anti-constitution zero-sum politics in Tennessee all the while making President Obama look like a far right-winger by comparison to themselves,” the statement said.
“Mark Clayton always got along fine with previous TNDP chairmen. But in contrast, the current TNDP chairman and his staff who despise Mark do not represent mainstream Democrats in Tennessee and are far to the fringe and far away from even President Obama’s comparatively conservative view on the Constitution and marriage issues.”

The Memphis Mood
Bart Sullivan has commentary from West Tennessee delegates to the convention:
City of Memphis police legal adviser and lawyer Zayid Saleem will be attending his first convention after being elected to the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee. Saleem said he recognizes that Tennessee has gone for the Republican presidential candidate the last two cycles but “we still need to motivate people to get out (to vote) across the state. You never know what will happen.”
Seeing Obama at the 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium Thursday night will be a highlight, he said. “It’s historic to actually be a part of the process.”
Kelly Jacobs of Hernando is driving her bronze Prius — decked out with re-elect Obama signs and Christmas lights — to the convention, her third after former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s run got her charged up in 2004.
While she’s excited to be among other Obama-Biden supporters, she’s disappointed at the decision not to let Dean or Obama’s chief rival in 2008, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, make podium speeches. She also said she had a pile of invitations five inches high by this time four and eight years ago, but now invitations come by e-mail and she wonders if elderly delegates who don’t use computers will miss out.

A Democratic Security Breach and the Tolerance Paradox

This week’s Scott McNutt Sunday satire targets the state Democratic Party “security breach” that allowed Mark Clayton’s election as U.S. Senate nominee.
Unlike the recent embarrassing incursion at Oak Ridge’s Y-12 nuclear facilities, in which three aging peaceniks broke through security and vandalized property and that led to a massive personnel shake-up and the removal of the manager there, state Democratic management has stated it will keep itself in place while working to oust the invader who exposed its shortcomings.
Regarding the incident, state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said, “I have the strongest possible confidence in Chairman Forrester. I also firmly think that nobody could have anticipated the breach of the party. And I’m confident Mr. Forrester will do everything humanly possible to plug the hole in our security and evict the infiltrator — that tea partier in donkeys’ skins — from our precincts. Let me say in conclusion: Heck of a job, Chippy.”
Puttbrese confirmed that his confidence in himself remained undiminished as well, although he declined to add, “Heck of a job, Brandy.”
…For his part, Clayton says he’s not trespassing, that the Democratic Party is his home and he has every right to stay.
“Because my conservative social beliefs dovetail with the Republican platform, people ask me why I didn’t run in their primary,” Clayton said. “Some of my views may be extremely Republican-like, but the Democratic Party is supposed to be the party of inclusion, acceptance and tolerance. So why should a Republican be barred from running as a Democrat?”
In response, Democratic officials referred to the tolerance paradox: that tolerance mustn’t tolerate intolerance.

Vanderbilt Hires Chaplain to Deal With ‘All-Comers’ Policy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University has hired a chaplain in the hopes of ending a lingering controversy over its non-discrimination policy.
The “all-comers” policy at the school requires student groups to allow any student to join their groups and to hold office, regardless of their beliefs. (Note: The Legislature passed a bill last session intended to stop the policy, but it was vetoed by Gov. Bill Haslam.)
Vanderbilt reviewed all of its student groups for compliance with the policy after a gay student complained of being thrown out of a Christian fraternity. Since then, Christian groups have protested and several lost their official status for refusing to sign on to the policy.
The university announced on Wednesday that the Rev. Mark Forrester would be its chaplain and director of religious life beginning on Sept. 1. The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/NkJm9g) reports that one of his first tasks will be to meet with groups that lost their status.
The Rev. John Sims-Baker, who advises the Vanderbilt Catholic student group, which lost its status after not signing on to the policy, had a positive reaction to the move.
“It is a godsend,” said Sims-Baker. “When I heard the news, I was surprised and delighted.”

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Ryan-as-VP Talking Points, Recycled for TN

Devaney Cheers
Release from Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney:
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement on the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate:
“Paul Ryan is the right choice to serve as Governor Romney’s running mate. Ryan has immense experience, including a knowledge and grounding on fiscal issues and the economy, something we are sorely lacking at Pennsylvania Avenue currently. Romney and Ryan will make a great team for the USA.”
Forrester Jeers
Release from Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester:
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued a statement following Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate.
“There’s no doubt what Romney-Ryan politics would mean for Tennessee – budget-busting tax breaks for the wealthy, greater burdens for working families, fewer health care options for women, and less security for seniors who’ve worked their whole lives for some peace of mind.
“Tennesseans wholly reject the Romney-Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it and shift millions of dollars in health care costs to Tennessee seniors through a paltry voucher scheme.
“Our children and our economy simply cannot afford the deep cuts Romney and Ryan want to make education — from Head Start to college aid. These are investments that are critical to a safe and secure future for all Tennesseans.
“The Romney-Ryan ticket would also giveaway a $250,000 tax cut to millionaires and billionaires at a time we should be working together to balance our budget.
“The Romney-Ryan plan is irresponsible and outrageous. Moreover, it’s just plain wrong for Tennessee.”

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Democrats Could Replace Clayton as U.S. Senate Nominee?

Tennessee Democrats legally could strike their controversial U.S. Senate nominee, anti-gay rights activist Mark Clayton, from the November ballot and replace him with another candidate, according to State Election Coordinator Mark Goins’ office.
From Action Andy’s story:
“The process requires one of the losing candidates to contest the election within that five-day window after certification,” said Blake Fontenay, a Goins spokesman, Friday.
“Then,” Fontenay said, “the party must decide if ‘justice and fairness’ make it necessary to set aside the election results.”
The decision could be made with the executive committee acting as the State Primary Board.
“If that decision is reached, then [the executive committee] could choose a new nominee,” Goins said.
Goins’ confirmation came after an attorney well versed in state election law earlier stated Democrats could indeed act if one of the six other candidates contested Clayton’s election. The attorney spoke on condition of not being quoted by name.
Goins, a Republican, previously has stated there is not adequate time between now and the general election for Democrats to seek a redo of Senate primary.
…Democratic Executive Committee member Jim Bilbo of Cleveland, an attorney and chairman of the party’s bylaws committee, said that despite the assertions of Goins, a Republican who cites state statutes, be believes the issue is far from clear based on court rulings.
In 2008, the state Democratic Party’s executive committee vacated the nomination of state Sen. Rosalind Kurita after she scraped by with a19-vote victory over Tim Barnes.
His attorneys alleged wide scale crossover voting by Republicans, who fielded no candidate, and charged Barnes supporters had been told to vote in the wrong primary. Kurita later ran as an independent and lost. She also filed suit against the party’s action. Just recently, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Democrats’ actions.
Bilbo recalled that when Democrats “went through all of that,” they were relying on one of two issues from a previous court ruling. They had to show either that there was some type of fraud committed. The second factor was “that there was so much going on that the outcome was uncertain.”
But Clayton won by 48,126 votes, more than double what Davis received.
“I don’t think that either one of those criteria exist in this case,” Bilbo said.

Forrester Under Fire

State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester is coming in for heavy criticism over Mark Clayton’s victory in the U.S. Senate primary. A sampler:
From a Chattanooga Free-Press editorial: How long does it take to turn a state political party from an empire that controls every facet of government into an irrelevant laughingstock? Apparently about six years when you have ineffective buffoons like Chip Forrester and Gray Sasser at the helm.
Gail Kerr’s opinion: Clayton has already served a useful and overdue purpose. He has demonstrated that the Tennessee Democratic Party is a complete, dismal mess.
From Democrat-oriented Pam Strickland:
Chip Forrester should be ashamed. When the state Democratic Party chairman hoodwinked the Executive Committee into re-electing him after the bloodbath that the party took in state legislative races in 2010, he promised to do better, but what he has delivered instead is a U.S. Senate nominee that the party has been forced to disavow.
From Republican-oriented Greg Johnson:
To repurpose a 1990s post-Soviet era joke about communism, the Democratic Party is dead in Tennessee — it just hasn’t been buried yet. Here’s another knee-slapper: Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said last week’s GOP primary “shows a Republican Party clearly in disarray.” After the Democratic primary, Forrester should know from “disarray.”
From a Tennessean editorial:
If the party knew about Clayton’s positions before the election and did not actively educate voters about their opposition, hoping (praying?) that he would not win, because they were afraid to publicize their error in allowing him on the ballot at all (again), then that is unconscionable bad judgment. If they were totally unaware of his positions, then that is incompetence.
In either case, leadership should own their responsibility and make way for a new team.

Candidate Clayton Says Forrester Breaking Rules by Opposing Him

The embattled Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate says he doesn’t understand why the head of his party refuses to welcome him to the party ticket, according to TNReport.
In a press conference outside the Nashville Metro Nashville Courthouse, presumptive nominee Mark Clayton told reporters that Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester took no issue with him in April when he dropped off his filing petitions to run for office.
“Chip Forrester is, despite reports to the contrary, not the Democratic Party. He just has a job. He just needs to stay at his office and do his job,” said Clayton, who prevailed as an underdog candidate in a crowded field. “I mean, if he did his job we wouldn’t have a problem with that. But if he continues to act against party rules and fight an elected nominee, then we’re going to have to go for his resignation.
“After everything that Martin Luther King went through, after everything we went through as a nation for civil rights, hundreds of years of slavery and violence, we’re going to have a Democratic Party that would take away people’s votes is just very shocking and disturbing to some of our supporters,” said Clayton.


Note: Clayton also has a website up now, HERE, to replace one dating to his 2008 campaign.

Runnerup Says TNDP Aware of ‘Fringe Candidate’ Clayton’s Background

The Tennessee Democratic Party “beat every bush” on Music Row and in other entertainment industry centers as it tried in vain to come up with a Volunteer State celebrity to run for U.S. Senate against well-funded incumbent Bob Corker this year, The Tennessean reports.
But the party passed on an opportunity to tell voters about a candidate with views that ran counter to Democratic doctrine, leaving it vulnerable to embarrassment in a wide-open primary election.
….Gary Gene Davis, who finished a distant second to Clayton in the primary, said Democratic Party officials already knew what Clayton stood for after he ran for Senate in 2008 and pulled in 32,309 votes to finish fourth. Bob Tuke won that primary with 59,050 votes, beating Davis by about 20,000 votes before losing to Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander in the general election.
Davis said party activists in Shelby County told him that Chip Forrester, the state party’s chairman, had openly endorsed actress and environmental activist Park Overall, describing her to them as “our candidate.” He said Forrester should have worked harder to tell voters about Clayton’s beliefs, which, according to his campaign website, include the need to “defend Tennesseans from the North American Union, National ID cards, illegal trade deals like NAFTA, radical homosexual lobbying groups who want to get in the Boy Scouts and terrorists who are hiding in the Army.”
…Spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said the party was “agnostic” in the primary, although Overall was given a speaking slot at the annual Jackson Day dinner and was the only one of the seven candidates who took the party up on its offer to help with news releases, talking points and social media.
He said it would have made little sense to talk about Clayton, “pretty much a fringe candidate to anybody.”
“You don’t push around someone’s name that you don’t want to get elected,” he said. “We could never have anticipated it would have ended this way.”
Although he declined to identify any targets, Puttbrese said officials tried to recruit any Tennessee resident they could find with enough name recognition to give Corker a battle.
“Tons of calls were made to legitimate politicians and other high-profile Tennesseans,” Puttbrese said Monday. “We beat every bush and left no stone unturned with people who had already made a name for themselves.

TN GOP Tries to Move Past Divisive Primary; Dems See Disarray

Tennessee’s Republican establishment is striving to move past last week’s sometimes bitter legislative primary and its potential impact on officeholder leadership. The aim now for fall campaigns: Slimming even more the ranks of the minority party Democrats.
The prospects look fairly bright for Republicans on both fronts, despite the losses of seven incumbent House members Thursday.
The defeat of those veterans — and close calls for a couple of others — are seen by some as an indication of growing division within the state’s majority party and as, possibly, a threat to House Speaker Beth Harwell remaining in her position.
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney, however, says that’s not likely. And he sees the GOP goal of a achieving a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate as “attainable,” given the party’s advantages through redistricting, fundraising superiority and voter distaste for President Obama.
Democrats say they can overcome their acknowledged disadvantages in money and redrawn district lines to make 2012 the start of a Democratic rebuilding process.

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Forrester: ‘Far-reaching Incompetence’ Warrants Voting Review

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE — With more than 1,000 wrong ballots cast in Shelby County, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester urged state election officials Thursday to review early voting ballots across the state.
“Republicans have spent the last two years talking about the importance of pure elections and yet they have failed over and over again to protect our voting rights,” Forrester said. “Their far-reaching incompetence and mismanagement has completely undermined our elections and any shred of faith voters may have had left in the process.”
Election officials confirmed to Memphis media that early voters in Shelby County cast more than 1,000 wrong ballots during early voting.
With so many mistakes, state officials should review early voting ballots ahead of the August 2 Primary Election — specifically in districts and precincts that were severely altered by redistricting — and report on the scope and magnitude of the “wrong ballot” mishap.
Initially election officials refused to acknowledge the widespread error, but thanks to the persistence of two concerned citizens, Joe Weinberg and Steve Ross, voters now have an understanding of the problem in Shelby County. So far state officials have failed to address whether the “wrong ballot” oversight is happening elsewhere in Tennessee.
“The taxpayers funding these elections deserve to know whether their vote counted or it was stolen because of incompetence,” Forrester said. “How big is this problem? When will it be fixed? Unfortunately, we don’t know because Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has not publicly addressed the issue that 1,000 wrong ballots were cast on his watch.”
Local election officials say they won’t lift a finger to fix this blunder. The pattern of neglect we see from our election officials is unacceptable.
“From the failed implementation of the voter-suppressing photo ID law to the disenfranchisement of law-abiding voters, we have called on Coordinator Goins multiple times to take some responsibility and fix the problems plaguing our elections, but it appears he’s more interested in playing politics than being accountable to voters,” Forrester said. “While we are proud to live in a state where citizens stand up to a neglectful government, our citizens deserve leaders who will hold themselves accountable for the errors happening under their command.”