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House Democrats Reelect Turner as Chairman Over Shaw

Rep. Mike Turner was reelected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Wednesday, defeating an opponent who had promised to be less caustic in criticizing Republicans.
Turner was challenged by Rep. Johnny Shaw of Boliver, who told colleagues “I think the world of Mike as a friend, but I just don’t think he has the leadership ability.”
Shaw, who would have been the first black elected as caucus chairman had he won, said he didn’t think the Democratic caucus “has been as inclusive as it should be” but added, “Above all, I think we need a leader who can be calm, cool and collected.”
Earlier, Shaw said Turner had been too insulting to Republicans on occasion.
Turner does have a reputation for colorful and sometimes confrontational commentary. State GOP Chairman Chris Devaney, for example, has twice demanded an apology from Turner – never received – for saying that racism as a factor in Republican opposition to President Barack Obama.
“You understand that if a guy got a gun on you, why you going to cuss him out? ” said Shaw. “That’s kind of an elementary phrase, but we’ve got to find a way to work with people even if they disagree with us and even if we don’t get what we want.”
Turner said in a brief speech that “we have tried to be more inclusive” in the caucus and contended House Democrats had been successful in the November elections, given the disadvantages of dealing with Republican-engineered redistricting. And he rejected the idea of being softer in dealing with Republicans.
“Now is not the time to be shy. Now is not the time to shrink,” Turner said. “We’re not going to just lay down and be run over.”

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Johnny Shaw: House Democratic Leader Too Quick to Insult Republicans

Rep. Mike Turner of Old Hickory is the current House Democratic Caucus chairman, but Rep. Johnny Shaw of Bolivar in West Tennessee is challenging him in a caucus election later today. WPLN says Shaw believes Turner can be too quick to insult Republicans, who now hold a two-thirds super majority in the House.
“You understand that if a guy got a gun on you, why you going to cuss him out? That’s kind of an elementary phrase, but we’ve got to find a way to work with people even if they disagree with us and even if we don’t get what we want.”
Shaw says the party also needs to come up with a strategy to start winning more seats than are being lost. He says the candidate recruiting process for the 2014 elections should already be underway.
Shaw says he believes he has support from most of the House Black Caucus. While that includes half the Democrats in the chamber, Rep. Turner still says he has the votes to retain his chairmanship.

Shaw Eyes Run for House Democratic Caucus Chair

State Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Boliver, has sent a letter to colleagues saying that he is considering a challenge to Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville, for the position of House Democratic Caucus chairman.
House Democrats meet Wednesday to elect leaders for the 108th General Assembly, which convenes on Jan. 8.
Shaw, a former chairman of the Tennessee Legislature’s Black Caucus, was in Washington for a meeting of the National Conference of Black Legislators, according to an aide, and could not be reached for comment.
Turner said he is confident that he has the votes lined up to be re-elected as caucus chair and hopeful that Shaw may decide against putting his name in nomination as a display of unity among the minority Democrats.
Democrats hold 28 House seats in the coming session — 14 of them members of the Black Caucus, 14 white.
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley apparently has no opposition for re-election as House minority leader, the top leadership position for a House Democrat.

House District 82: Fitzhugh vs. Edwards

State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, defeated Republican challenger Johnny Edwards, of Ripley, by 284 votes in the November 2010 election, observes the Jackson Sun at the outset of a report on the House District 82 race.
“As an absolute newcomer to the political arena, to have challenged an incumbent of 16 years at the time and come that close to beating him on a very tiny budget, of course that gave me encouragement to run again,” Edwards said. “And during the two years between elections, many of my supporters, friends and people I didn’t know said, ‘Johnny, you need to run again.'”
With redistricting, District 82 includes Haywood, Crockett and Lauderdale counties.
Edwards, 60, owns Edwards Signs, Graphics & Advertising in Ripley.
He served four years in the U.S. Army and another 16 to 17 years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring as a major.
Edwards received an associate degree from Dyersburg State Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Memphis State University, he said.
While on active duty with the Air Force, he said he went to the Air Force Institute of Technology and earned a master’s degree in logistics management.
…Fitzhugh, 62, is chairman and CEO of the Bank of Ripley and has served in his current office since 1994.
He said the focus has to remain on jobs and education.
“Sometimes the majority in the legislature got strayed away from that and focused on other issues that weren’t as vitally important to Tennesseans,” he said. “And it will be my focus to remain committed to growing jobs and increasing the education attainability of Tennessee.”
Fitzhugh said his record shows he can work with all kinds of people.
“I have the ability to work with people in rural and urban areas, Republicans, Democrats and independents and with the focus to get things done and move our state forward,” he said.