Tag Archives: Mary Mancini

Mancini calls for TN Democratic debate on Andrew Jackson

Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini has stirred some controversy by declaring Tuesday that “Tennessee Democrats must have a conversation and discuss Andrew Jackson’s legacy,” including whether Jackson’s name should remain on the state party’s annual Jackson Day fundraising event.

From the Richard Locker report:

That’s Andrew Jackson — the Tennessean known as the “father of the Democratic Party,” resident of Nashville, war hero, co-founder of Memphis and seventh president of the United States.

And slave owner and an architect of the removal of Native Americans from their Southern homes to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

Mancini posted the communiqué on TnDP’s Facebook page and by email to party regulars about midday Tuesday, citing the renaming of Jackson-Jefferson Day events by state Democratic parties in Georgia, Connecticut and elsewhere. The message included Jackson’s legacy as “infusing” the party with the idea “that the common man has a place in the political process and is no less important than the rich and powerful.” But she said if the party doesn’t “acknowledge Jackson’s participation in slavery or the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands, then we would be derelict in our stewardship of that legacy. (Note: Full is posted below.)

…Soon after the posting, state Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville, said his phone and email “blew up” with opposition to Mancini’s message. He represents Jackson’s home area, where The Hermitage is located.

“I’m frankly not very pleased. I think it hurts the party. I think basically she’s creating her own problem. If she wants to have a conversation I’ll be happy to have it. I’m against it (removing Jackson’s name) and I think my Democratic colleagues in the Davidson County delegation are against it. It’s almost offensive to bring it up. I just don’t get it,” Jernigan said.

…Mancini, who was elected state party chairman in January, said she’s received a “good reaction. Some are saying let’s change the name; others are saying let’s keep the name. Others are saying thank you for having the conversation. No one has asked for removal of the name.”

Further, from The Tennessean’s Dave Boucher:
That discussion is a good thing, argued Jason Nelson, vice president of marketing and sales at The Hermitage.

“The conversation Mary wants to have is the same one we’d like to have. Ironically, we launched a new exhibit about Andrew Jackson in January with this very discussion in mind,” Nelson said in a prepared statement to The Tennessean.

“In our new exhibit, we present both light and dark elements. That’s the Jackson story. It’s also the American story. We run to it rather than run from it because it’s interesting, it’s our history and there’s much we can learn from it.”
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TNGOP goal for 2015, 2016: Make state’s political roots ever redder

In his relatively new role as Tennessee Republican Party chairman, Ryan Haynes promises to expand on his predecessor’s “Red to the Roots” program for putting more of the party’s partisans into local office, even though there will be fewer opportunities in the coming round of elections.

Last year, when former GOP Chairman Chris Devaney launched the effort, Haynes said there was a “once-in-a-decade opportunity” to move toward giving Republicans the supermajority status in city and county governments that they now enjoy in the state Legislature and Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation while all three offices filled by statewide election — the governorship and two U.S. Senate seats — were safely held by Republicans.

In 2014, all local judgeships were up for new eight-year terms, and almost all county officeholders were up for new four-year terms. That won’t happen again until 2022. Devaney determined the situation called for a Republican attack in the last place Democrats maintain a toehold in Tennessee politics — local offices.

This year and in 2016, Haynes said, the opportunities are more limited but the party will be focused on taking advantage of them. That focus will be on county property assessor contests, the elections for a few local judgeships where vacancies have occurred and perhaps occasional engagement in city elections — although those are now all officially nonpartisan under state law.

There is some talk among Republicans of changing state law to allow partisan competition for municipal offices and for local school board seats, now also officially nonpartisan under a current state statute. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, supports such a move. Gov. Bill Haslam, who was elected mayor of Knoxville in an officially nonpartisan election and who has called for nonpartisanship in statewide judicial elections, is remarkably silent on the matter, although widely believed to be opposed.
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Some comments on TN in the March 1, 2016, presidential primary

Richard Locker has collected comments on Tennessee’s role in the 2016 presidential primary, with an earlier-than-usual March 1 date and in conjunction with other Southern states. A few of the comments:

Richard Pacelle, chairman of the University of Tennessee’s political science department. “Because Tennessee is important, I am sure we will see a number of candidates come through. However, there are two factors that might marginalize Tennessee a little.

“One, Super Tuesday means that there will be a lot of other noise that night. Second, given the length of the ‘states’ of Tennessee (east, middle and west), it is a difficult state to blanket.”

…Vanderbilt University political science professor John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, agreed much of the action will occur in the run-up to the primary.

“Tennessee will be important because it is early, has a number of delegates (to the national conventions) at stake and no candidate has a built-in edge. It should be quite competitive,” he said. “There is good reason to think we will see a lot of Republican candidates over the next eight months. That is partly due to Tennessee being an early and important state. It will also reflect the huge number of candidates running.”

…”There is no doubt Tennessee is going to play an important role in the upcoming election,” said state GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes of Knoxville. “When we hold our primary on March 1 as part of the ‘SEC Primary,’ the presidential campaigns will just be coming out of the first four ‘carve-out’ states and will be looking to make a splash in the South. With one of the strongest Republican parties in the country and large media markets, I expect we will see a lot of attention from those campaigns as they seek to maximize their vote totals.”

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini said it’s still early in the process, but the state is likely to be a battleground in her party’s primary too.

Eight years ago we were a closely contested state, and I expect that to be the case again this year,” Mancini said. “And Tennessee definitely has the potential to be in play for the general. We voted for Bill Clinton twice, and so it’s reasonable to think that 2016 will create an opportunity for the Democrats to once again add Tennessee to the Democratic column on election night.”

…Tennessee’s long, narrow geography is a help and a hindrance in politics. Haynes cited one characteristic that will make Tennessee a draw during Super Tuesday: Tennessee media reach voters in Tennessee and in neighboring states also voting on Super Tuesday.

“That allows the campaigns a larger return on their investment when it comes to both earned media (news coverage) and paid media (campaign advertising),” he said.

There’s another factor: the state’s top elected officials generally have high favorability ratings with voters, Haynes said, and it behooves national candidates to be seen and photographed with them.

TNDP, TNGOP clash over South Carolina slayings

State Democratic Chair Mary Mancini has sent an email to party supporters comparing the murder of nine church members in South Carolina last week to the 1940 murder of an early NAACP leader in Brownsville, TN. She had attended a memorial service marking the 75th anniversary of his death. At the bottom of the party email is a link inviting readers to donate to TNDP.

State Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes responded with a press release denouncing Democrats for using the “horrific tragedy” as a fundraising device. The Democrat, replying to an emailed invitation to respond, said the Haynes release is “fake outrage.”

Below are 1) the Mancini missive; 2) the TNGOP’s news release and 3) TNDP’s emailed response to it.
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On ‘listening tour,’ Mancini talks of Democrats taking back state House seats in 2016

Mary Mancini, new chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, is making a “listening tour” of the state, meeting with local Democratic groups. Georgiana Vines reports that, in her Knoxville stop, she declared Tennessee are more purple than red in political coloration and that she’s developing a plan take back seats in the state House in 2016.

She wouldn’t name the seats, but said afterwards that four to seven Republicans could be targeted. The GOP holds 73 seats in the House this session.

Democrats would start trying to regain positions by “damaging” Republicans and registering voters, she said. She also said recruiting “excellent” candidates was a priority, and told Cheri Siler, “I’m looking at you.” Siler ran for the 7th Senate District won by Republican Richard Briggs.

Another candidate Mancini acknowledged was Dr. Mary Headrick of Maynardville, who has twice been the Democratic nominee for the 3rd Congressional District represented by Republican Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah.

One of the points Mancini stressed was having a message that is simple and easily explained.

John Stewart, a retired TVA executive, said he was taking that to heart. He said he worked for 30 years on tax reform in Tennessee only to lose in November when voters approved a constitutional amendment that forbids a state income tax.

“We’ve got to simplify what we say,” he said.

Mancini said she plans to hire a communications director to help with messaging after first hiring a finance director to raise money.

Before her “listening” tour with local Democrats, she attended a lunch hosted by lawyer Sidney Gilreath, a Democratic donor, at Club LeConte. Among those in attendance were lawyer Gordon Ball, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate last year, and his primary opponent, lawyer Terry Adams.

In a separate report, Vines says the “listening” including local Democrats “unloading their frustrations” with the party.
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Democrats choose Mary Mancini as new state party chair

Mary Mancini is next up to lead Tennessee’s beleaguered Democrats after party leaders gave the progressive activist from Nashville a unified show of support in electing her new chair of the state party, reports The Tennessean.

Mancini, who last summer lost her Democratic bid in the Senate District 21 Democratic primary, collected 61 votes Saturday from the state party’s Executive Committee, easily defeating Lenda Sherrell of Monteagle, who finished with nine votes.

“Now, it’s time to get to work,” Mancini said. “Together, we must work to elect Democrats. We must rebuild and re-energize the base. We have to strengthen our county parties and we have to lay the groundwork for the next several election cycles.

“We have to define what it means to be a Democrat. We can no longer allow Republicans to define who we are.”

Mancini replaces Roy Herron, a former state senator who declined to run again after two years on the job. Her decisive win marks a departure from close and divisive Democratic chair races in recent years.

Mancini beat out Sherrell, a retired CPA who lost her challenge to embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in November. Former state Rep. Gloria Johnson and attorney Terry Adams, both from Knoxville, had previously eyed the chairmanship, but both dropped out of the race leading up to Saturday’s vote.

Note: In the vice-chairman contest, Chris Anderson, a Chattanooga city councilman, lost a 37-33 vote to former state Rep. John Litz of Morristown, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Gail Jones Carson was elected party secretary; Wade Munday treasurer

See also Nashville Scene’s Pith. An excerpt:

After her swearing in, Mancini praised Johnson, Adams, and Sherrell for the tone of the race.

“I also want to thank Terry Adams and Gloria Johnson and Lenda Sherrell for really helping to make this campaign one that I was very proud to be a part of,” Mancini said. “Throughout the months, the vetting process, regional meetings, the parties and the receptions, we spent quality time together and communicated with one another and with you, the executive committee, with a level of camaraderie and unity that I have faith will continue well into the future.”

That’s true. The chair’s race this time around lacked the public infighting and media leaks that have characterized recent contests to lead the troubled party. That may be due to the crop of candidates as well as the party’s new approach, a more controlled, methodical selection process by comparison.

Going forward, Mancini named goals familiar to party observers in recent years — to recruit more candidates, raise more money, and be more competitive in races up and down the ballot. She added that the party needed to “ensure that we have an impact in redistricting in 2020.”

“We have to define what it means to be a Democrat,” she said. “We can no longer allow Republicans to define who we are.”

Mancini’s victory Saturday revealed a consensus that has been apparently lacking inside the party for years. For Tennessee Democrats, that’s a start. And for Tennessee Democrats, that’s a lot.