Tag Archives: Roy Herron

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.

Gloria Johnson bows out of Democratic chair race, may head OFA in Tennessee

Former state Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville has ended her candidacy for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party while being considered for the job of running the Democratic advocacy group Organizing for America in Tennessee, reports Richard Locker.

Johnson notified members of the party’s state executive committee in an email Friday afternoon that she is withdrawing as a candidate to succeed Roy Herron, who is not seeking another term when the committee meets Jan. 10 in Nashville to choose a new chairman.

…Her withdrawal leaves Knoxville lawyer Terry Adams, Nashville businessman Larry Crim, party activist Mary Mancini of Nashville and accountant Lenda Sherrell of Monteagle in the running.

…Johnson lost reelection to her state House seat in the November general election. She told executive committee members that she has been offered the position of Tennessee state director for Organizing for America, formerly Obama for America, the President’s campaign organization that became a Democratic advocacy group after his reelection in 2012.

“I will be building teams to work on progressive causes in Tennessee, training new leaders and teaching them how to organize…. This was not an easy decision for me to make but I know I have made the right decision for me and my family. Though I will be traveling a lot, this position will allow me to stay in Knoxville, which is important for my family at this time,” she wrote.

Johnson, a former school teacher, said she is friends with all the candidates for chairman but wrote that she believes Mancini is “the most qualified of those remaining in the race.”

Further from Johnson via Georgiana Vines:
“I haven’t been offered the job and I haven’t accepted, but we’re in the process of working something out,” Johnson said Saturday.

If the job materializes, it would start in the spring, she said.

In the meantime, she said she’ll return to teaching special education — this time at Holston Middle School.

“I didn’t feel it was fair for so many people working for me for chair when I was working on another job,” she said.

Note: Pith in the Wind has Johnson’s full email to the executive committee, HERE.

Roy Herron on religion and politics: Republicans read the Bible and ignore it; Democrats don’t even read it

Roy Herron, soon to be departing as chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, talks on one of his favorite topics – religion and politics – in an interview with Marc Perrusquia. (He wrote a book on the subject back in 2005.)

Some excerpts:

A licensed attorney, he plans to rejuvenate his law practice in his hometown of Dresden, Tennessee, when he steps down as the state’s top Democrat on Jan. 10, and he’s considering other business options as well.

He’s also weighing a possible return to the pulpit as a part-time Methodist preacher, a role that tapered off years ago as he concentrated on law and politics.
…“In too many churches, pastors have preached from the pulpit and Sunday school teachers have taught in their classrooms that if you’re a Democrat you can’t be a Christian. And if you’re a Christian, you can’t be a Democrat,” Herron told CNN in 2006 after co-founding FaithfulDemocrats.com, a new media venture with a slogan — “Because Jesus Wasn’t Kidding About Loving Your Neighbor” — and a mission: to close the “God gap” the religious right claims in politics.

“Too many are trying to say that God is spelled G.O.P.”

…“There was a Republican senator who once spelled out the difference between the two parties this way,” said Herron in his Will Rogers-like way, an uncanny ability to deftly sum up a complex issue in a pithy story or two. “A Republican sees a man drowning 50 feet off shore and he throws him 25 feet of rope and encourages him to swim for it. It will be good for him. The Democrat sees the same man and throws him a hundred feet of rope. But instead of pulling him in, he walks off to do other good deeds. Either way, the fellow drowns.”

If you don’t like that one, try this:

“I often say the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the Bible is this: Republicans are biblically ignorant and Democrats are biblically illiterate. Republicans read the Bible and ignore it. Democrats too often don’t even read it. It’s an overstatement, to be sure. But I think too many people in both parties don’t apply scriptural lessons to today’s issues.”

A key scriptural lesson government should heed, Herron said, is the “Judgment of the Nations,” Jesus’ mandate in the Book of Matthew to care for the sick, the poor and the needy. Too often, tea party Republicans ignore that, he said — by resisting raising the minimum wage; by failing to expand TennCare, the state Medicaid program for the needy and uninsured; by failing to adequately support, even “attacking,” public schools.

…Chris Devaney, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, said he believes Herron is misguided. Republicans care about the poor, too, he said; they just have a different approach “in terms of getting there to help them.” He called Herron’s position on abortion “hypocritical.”

“Look, Roy is a nice man and has certainly served the state for a long time. And I don’t want to kick him when he’s down,” Devaney said in an interview in November. “But he is wrong about a lot of issues. And I do feel like sometimes that he does hide behind the pulpit. But I think it’s a little disingenuous when you hide behind the pulpit but yet you are advocating issues against pro-life, for example.”

TNDP chairman suffers heart problem, OK after hospitalization

Statement from Chairman Roy Herron, issued via Tennessee Democratic Party:
Yesterday, I experienced some discomfort in my chest. I immediately went to a hospital and after testing it was determined I had a blockage of an artery to my heart. I underwent a heart catheterization, a stent was inserted and I am pain free and out of danger. My caregivers have informed me that I can be released from the hospital tomorrow and that I should have no permanent effects from this episode.

As Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result.” By the grace of God, I dodged a bullet. I’m so grateful for my wife and my sons who have rallied around me. I am grateful I could go to the emergency room when I first felt something was wrong. I am especially grateful that I am not one of the 320,000 Tennesseans who, because of the indifference of the Tea Party dominated legislature, do not have access to health insurance. I knew I could afford to seek medical care so I did so without delay and avoided a more serious health event.

As I recover here tonight, I have been made aware that there are some in Tennessee who are worried about my health and who want to know that I am not in danger. I wanted to issue this statement to let everyone know that my journey is not yet done, I am well and happy and in the company of my wife Nancy, and that I am at this moment remembering what my Sainted Mother used to say, “Don’t you wish everyone had it so good?”

Screening committee recommends three for TNDP chair

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Democratic Party committee is recommending three candidates for the state party chairmanship.

In a Monday news release, the committee recommended outgoing state Rep. Gloria Johnson, former state Senate candidate Mary Mancini and former U.S. Senate candidate Terry Adams.

Mancini is a Nashville resident who formerly headed the advocacy group Tennessee Citizen Action, where she helped organize large-scale voter registration drives, among other things.

Johnson is a Knoxville resident who recently lost her seat in the state House of Representatives in the general election.

Adams is a Knoxville attorney who had never held office before his long-shot bid for U.S. Senate earlier this year.

The candidates will meet with executive committee members and county party chairs before the election for the chairmanship in January.

Note: Also applying for the job, but not making the recommended list, was Lenda Sherrell, the party nominee against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District.

Herron laments ‘dark money’ in ‘smear campaigns’ against TN Democratic legislators

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Washington, D.C.-based dark money groups calling themselves “Advance Tennessee” and “Tennessee Federation for Children” are pouring big money into a last-minute smear campaigns against Tennessee Democrats running for reelection to the State House.

“A handful of out-of-control millionaires wants to sling mud at Tennessee’s elected leaders while hiding behind a D.C. mail box. They refuse to say who they are or what they stand for. How slimy can you get?” said Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “This group has poured massive amounts of money into Tennessee legislative races in the last ten days and it won’t be clear for months, if ever, who paid for the ads.”

Advance Tennessee first reared its head in this year’s GOP primaries with more than $100,000 in negative TV ads against eight rightwing Republican incumbents who identified with the Tea Party, the notorious uber conservative group primarily funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers. Now, the group, in concert with the Tennessee GOP, is helping to target at least four Democrats: Rep. Bo Mitchell of western Davidson County, Rep. Darren Jernigan of eastern Davidson County, Rep. David Shepard who represents Dickson, Hickman and Maury Counties, and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville.

“These groups shows a complete lack of consistency and coherence in either message or targets, which just goes to show you how cowardly and dishonest the attacks are. They’re just throwing mud at the wall and hoping something sticks,” said Herron.
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Herron bashes Haslam on TN unemployment rate

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released the following statement in response to Governor Haslam’s remarks yesterday expressing his confusion about why the state unemployment rate remains so high:

“The governor can’t figure out why Tennessee’s state unemployment rate is one of the five highest in the nation. But his administration’s failures are having dire consequences for Tennesseans all across the state.

“Instead of accepting $1.2 billion this year in 100% federal funding to expand Medicaid, which would have saved 1,800 lives and created tens of thousands of jobs, the governor has done nothing as rural hospitals have closed and urban hospitals have laid off workers.

“Instead of providing scholarships for students or training for workers, the state’s first billionaire governor is abolishing the inheritance tax for billionaires.

“Now, the governor’s proposing drastic cuts to the state budget, which will mean more Tennesseans losing their jobs and more vulnerable Tennesseans like children, the sick, and the mentally ill being denied services. If the governor wants to find the source of Tennessee’s high jobless rate, he should look in the mirror- and change his policies.”


The Associated Press reported yesterday that Governor Haslam said of the unemployment rate, “it’s a little hard for us to understand why that number hasn’t budged” and that “Haslam said he has asked some economists to look into the unemployment statistics to ‘dig back into’ the figures to see if they can find an explanation for Tennessee’s high jobless rate.”

The AP also reported House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh’s response: “Unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie . . . instead of tinkering with those figures, we should focus on the problem which is the neglect of our existing small businesses.”

TNDP chair: Alexander plagairizing NRSC playbook

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released the following statement in response to attacks on Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Gordon Ball from Lamar Alexander’s campaign and the Tennessee Republican Party:

“Lamar Alexander the piano player is out of tune and out of touch. He’s playing a Washington waltz instead of a Tennessee waltz.

“The Republican Party is attacking Gordon Ball for alleged plagiarism because a volunteer copied something from someone else’s website. But Lamar Alexander has copied his entire campaign of attacking Gordon Ball from the National Republican Senatorial Committee playbook. Lamar Alexander is plagiarizing every tired, stale, old attack because he has no new ideas and no vision to help Tennesseans. But that dog won’t hunt here. Tennesseans want real solutions, not more Washington attacks and more Washington gridlock.

“Senator Alexander has been on the government bosom for six decades and wants a seventh. He has been on the government payroll since he was in his early twenties, and now wants to stay on the government payroll well into his eighties. Lamar Alexander is not just a career politician–he’s a life-long, seven-decades, seven-government-jobs politician. As a senator, he talks Tennessee but votes Washington. He votes with Mitch McConnell and the Tea Party Republicans against healthcare for families, education for children, a minimum wage for workers, and equal pay for women.

“Decades ago, Lamar Alexander was a good governor and a Tennessean, but now he’s a Washingtonian and a Mitch McConnell clone. If Lamar Alexander was as concerned about Tennessee as he is about D.C. he would debate Gordon Ball instead of running away from the issues. But he won’t debate because he has nothing to say except his plagiarized political talking points from the national Republican Party.”

Responsive email commentary from Brian Reisinger, Alexander campaign spokesman:
“Sen. Alexander’s opponent not only is a confessed plagiarist, he and his allies have trouble with the truth. In private life Lamar Alexander co-founded both a Nashville law firm and a company that merged with its competitor and became the world’s largest provider of worksite day care. When he was elected to the Senate in 2002, Sen. Alexander had spent more adult years in the private sector than in public life.”

Search committee to vet candidates for TNDP chair

Nashville real estate businessman Bill Freeman will lead a committee vetting candidates to the position of Tennessee Democratic chairman, according to the Tennessean.

Freeman, who said Monday that he’s leaning toward running for mayor of Nashville in 2015, accepted the offer in an email to state Democratic Party executive committee members Tuesday.

Roy Herron, the party chairman since January 2013, told executive committee members last month that he wouldn’t seek another two-year term this winter. Sylvia Woods, an executive committee member for the past 25 years, said she and other members want a panel appointed by Freeman to narrow the field of possible replacements to “the top two or three candidates that are capable of doing the job.”

…Freeman, the chairman of Nashville-based real estate firm Freeman Webb Co., was a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. In his email to Woods and Barbara Wagner, another executive committee member, he said the vetting committee would start meeting after the Nov. 4 general election, which includes gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, congressional and General Assembly races.

… “I anticipate that the work of this committee will be complete around Thanksgiving and that our formal recommendations be given to you at that time.”

Roy Herron won’t seek second term as TN Democratic Chairman; Terry Adams eyes replacing him

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron announced today at a meeting of the Tennessee Democratic Party State Executive Committee that he would not be seeking a second term as party chairman.

“I have been blessed to serve as chairman these past two years, and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all of the executive committee members, party officials, staff members, and friends with whom I have worked to help elect Democrats,” Herron said. “Electing Democrats in Tennessee in order to move our state forward will continue to be my focus and my passion.”

Herron’s term as state party chair has been marked by a number of major accomplishments, including cutting recurring state party expenses almost 50%, hosting two record-setting Jackson Day fundraisers, and a major effort by the state party to help retain three Supreme Court justices targeted by Republican Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and outside interest groups.

UPDATE NOTE: From the Tennessean’s story on Herron’s decision:

Terry Adams, who finished second in the Senate primary last month, said he is interested in succeeding Herron.

“If the executive committee of the Democratic Party sees fit to have me as chairman, I would certainly be interested,” Adams said.