Tag Archives: Roy Herron

TNDP chairman joins in questioning Slatery AG appointment

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released the following statement regarding the appointment of Herb Slattery as Attorney General for the State of Tennessee:

“Tennessee has had outstanding Attorneys General and we hope that the new one is no exception. He comes to office with a number of unique facts that cause concerns to many, regardless of party affiliation:

“1. Tennessee has never had an Attorney General with so little experience trying cases. Though his application asked for numbers of cases tried or mediated or handed on appeal, he has so little litigation experience he refused to answer the questions asked. To head the largest collection of trial attorneys in the state is a challenge for anyone with great experience, but for someone with so little experience in litigation that he would not answer the questions about numbers of cases raises legitimate concerns.

“2. Tennessee has never had an Attorney General who was not only the Governor’s legal counsel, but also his “childhood friend,” reportedly a cousin, personal legal counsel, campaign counsel and campaign official. He will face extraordinary scrutiny because of the extraordinary relationships and people will reasonably wonder whether he can be objective and unbiased.

“3. Tennessee has never had an Attorney General who bragged in his application about crafting and lobbying legislation to take the rights away from victims, including those injured by the negligence of others and those workers injured on their jobs. Workers and victims already know that he has worked hard against them and will reasonably question whether he can be fair to them.

“Tennesseans of both parties reasonably wonder why an outstanding Attorney General was denied an opportunity to continue to serve. It appears to many that General Cooper’s party affiliation was used against him. That is yet another reason why the new Attorney General has a particular responsibility to show himself beyond reproach, non-partisan, and worthy of the high office he will assume.”

Charlie Brown appears in TN newspapers — and not on the comics page

The Tennessean and the Chattanooga Times-Free Press have both done write-ups on Charlie Brown of Oakdale, this year’s Democratic nominee for governor, comparing the situation to the 2012 Democratic U.S. Senate nomination going to Mark Clayton, subsequently disavowed by the party for alleged “extremist” views.

From the TFP:

(U)nlike the lovable “Peanuts” cartoon character, Charles V. “Charlie” Brown, of Oakdale, Tenn., is definitely not the kind of guy who’d tolerate Lucy Van Pelt snatching a football away from him.

His top campaign plank? Well, the 72-year-old retired businessman and Realtor wants to stick Haslam in the state’s electric chair and “give him about half the jolt.”

In his reasoning, outlined in a letter to Tennessee newspapers earlier this year, Brown links two controversies. One is Haslam’s signing of a bill this year reinstating use of Tennessee’s electric chair in the event lethal injections are banned.

The other is the Haslam administration’s controversial $10 million purchase in 2010 of a Knoxville building from a Haslam family business associate for use by a community college. Critics questioned whether the building was worth that much.

“After what he has done to my friends in knox [sic] county, I would like to strap his butt to the chair and give him about half the jolt,” Brown wrote in the letter. “He raised the peoples [sic] taxes when he bought that piece of property and took it off the tax books.”

…Current Democratic Chairman Roy Herron, a former state senator expected to seek a second term as party chairman, did not respond to a request for comment on Brown’s nomination.

But in a chain of emails obtained by the Nashville Scene, Democrats on the state executive committee demanded Friday to know who Brown is. (Note: Scene article is HERE.)

Executive Committee member Joan Hill cited Brown’s letter and groaned, “Per Blount County dems, ‘we are screwed.'”

She later added, “Roy, are you out there? Can you please respond to the questions about Mr. Brown?”

Asked how he won the primary election, Brown replied, “The Lord.”

Of course, he had some advantages.

“They said I was unknown — I’ve been in the newspaper for years under ‘Peanuts,'” he quipped.

Moreover, his name was first on the ballot.

From The Tennessean:

State party Chairman Roy Herron, who said he looked forward to learning more about Brown, shrugged off the development Friday morning, saying the party that’s out of power usually struggles against a sitting governor.

“Both McWherter and Bredesen swept to overwhelming re-election victories against candidates who didn’t give them a serious challenge,” Herron said. “For good or for bad, it’s the pattern. So it’s hardly a surprise.”

Brown’s primary victory was impressive, given that he misspelled his own first name — “Chrles” — on his campaign Facebook page and reported no fundraising or spending whatsoever through June 30. Until Friday, the one photo on the Facebook page showed Brown crouched on one knee with three catfish spread before him. It was replaced by a photo of a photo, of a man and a woman.

“I’m a redneck hillbilly, and I want to put this state first,” Brown said. “I want to put Tennessee up front.”

Haslam worried about income inequality

Gov. Bill Haslam urged Republicans to Tuesday take seriously the growing problem of income inequality, reports The Tennessean – drawing quick criticism from state Democratic Chairman Roy Herron.

Haslam said at the Davidson County Republican Party’s First Tuesday luncheon in downtown Nashville that Republicans should not deny evidence that wealth is being spread unevenly or write off such concerns as Democratic propaganda.

The governor, whose family fortune is estimated to exceed $1 billion, said income inequality can be addressed best by improving the education system.

“The Republican answer — I think, the smart answer — is to say we’re going to give everybody the opportunities that they deserve,” he said. “There’s some people who say … we can just tax more people at the top end and that can help more people at the bottom end, (and) it’ll all work out.

“But we’ve been trying that for the past 50 years, with the Great Society and all of that. The problem has only actually gotten worse.”

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued the following statement in response to Governor’s Haslam remarks on income inequality this afternoon at the Davidson County Republican Party’s 1st Tuesday luncheon in Nashville:

“I commend the governor for admitting the problem of income inequality has gotten worse, but call on him to stop making the problem worse by making the rich richer and the poor and middle class poorer.

“Our state’s first billionaire governor is repealing the inheritance tax on billionaires while reneging on his promise to give teachers even a tiny cost-of-living adjustment, denying healthcare to 300,000 working Tennesseans, and opposing raising the minimum wage.

“To address income inequality, our state’s first billionaire governor could stop his repeal of the inheritance tax on billionaires and use the current revenue to help the sick or students from working families. And he could raise the minimum wage for workers who make less in an entire year than he makes while asleep one night.”

A new round of internal conflict among TN Democrats

There is currently a war going on over control of the Democratic State Executive Committee, observes Frank Cagle.

A group of insurgents has already tried to oust the party chair, former state Sen. Roy Herron. Herron is pro-life and is considered too conservative by many Democrats. So former chair Chip Forrester is recruiting candidates to win more seats on the executive committee and oust Herron and install a new chair more in line with progressive thinking.

Locally, former Democratic state Sen. Bill Owen, who serves on the state executive committee and on the Democratic National Committee, is being challenged by former Knox County Commissioner Mark Harmon. When the coup was attempted to remove Herron, Owen sided with Herron. He is part of current majority of the committee that argues the Democrats lost three of five Congressional seats, seven of 14 state Senate seats, and 21 of 49 House seats during Forrester’s tenure.

Forrester supports Harmon.

Forrester denies he is seeking to return as chair, but if his slate wins control he will be able to influence who does get the job—and it won’t be Herron. The number of seats lost during his tenure was a debacle for state Democrats. I think it can be argued that having President Obama at the top of the ticket and the retirement of long-serving Democratic incumbents also played a role. But regardless, Democratic voters will decide by their votes whether to retain Herron or support Forrester’s slate.

Herron will be chair during this election cycle and he faces a daunting task. The Democrats can’t find anybody to run against Gov. Bill Haslam. More longtime incumbent Democrats are retiring from the state Senate in districts that have been trending Republican. Given their depleted ranks they probably would be better off not fighting among themselves.

It will be good for the Republicans to have the Democrats fighting over who’s on their executive committee while the Republicans are winning elections for public offices.

Note: The Tennessee Journal reports Forrester helped recruit challengers to incumbent Democratic State Executive Committee members including Elisa Parker of Franklin, the party’s vice chairman, and attorney Jim Bilbo of Cleveland. And there’s this quote from former Chairman Forrester:

“I am not running for chair. I will not run for chair. I will not be drafted for chair in 2015.”

Crim says Herron broke party rules by endorsing Terry Adams

Larry Crim complains in a news release that state Democratic Chairman Roy Herron is breaking party rules by endorsing Knoxville attorney Terry Adams in the U.S. Senate primary, but Herron says he has made no endorsement.

Adams said in a news conference Friday that Herron has been supportive of his candidacy, along with former Democrtic chairmen Bob Tuke and Chip Forrester. Tuke is serving as Adams’ campaign treasurer.

In a Saturday report on the news conference, the Tennessean had this comment from Herron:

“Terry Adams is a serious, strong candidate,” Herron said. “At this point, I think Democrats from Mountain City to Memphis are supporting him, but if some other strong, serious candidate came forward, I’d support her or him as well.”

Today, following Crim’s Sunday news release, Herron is quoted as saying he hasn’t endorsed Adams.

“It was not an endorsement,” Herron said. “I didn’t and the party doesn’t endorse any candidate until the primary voters speak.”

He said having several strong candidates is good for the process.

“Quite frankly, I did not know that Mr. Crim was still running,” he said. “I hadn’t seen or heard anything from him in some months.

Here’s the Crim nrews release:
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Herron names new TNDP staffers; Secrest is executive director

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today named Alan Secrest, a top national Democratic strategist and pollster with Tennessee ties, as the Party’s new Executive Director and Research Director beginning January 2014.

Three local professionals — Mark Epps, Nikki Holland and Heather Meshell — will also join the Party as staff this month.

“I am thrilled to welcome Alan, Mark, Nikki and Heather to the Tennessee Democratic Party,” Herron said. “With Alan’s coast-to-coast experience developing strategic and tactical plans for political clients and advocacy groups, his leadership will help maximize Democratic opportunities both in the near and long term.”

Secrest, with 30 years experience advising Democratic candidates in high-profile races, has helped elect more than 450 members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis and former Tennessee Congressmen Lincoln Davis and Bart Gordon, and hundreds more state and local office holders, such as former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.

“There is no shortage of Democratic talent, passion and commitment in Tennessee,” Secrest said. “I will do my best to harness and unify the amazing resources in service to Democratic wins throughout the state.”
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Turner to resign as chairman of House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Mike Turner says he will step down in January as the House Democratic Caucus chairman.

Turner, who has served in the role for five years, cited philosophical differences with the state’s Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron.

Turner told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/18VSoQ3) that he and Herron are friends, but suggested they have very different visions for the political party.

“This is not anything personal against him, but my approach to what the party needs and where it needs to go is way different than his,” Turner, who lives in Old Hickory, said Monday. “I want a more progressive and aggressive party that more reflects probably the national trend and where Democrats are having some success in other areas.

“I think Roy has got a more traditional conservative approach. The caucus chairman and the party chairman need to work together.”

Herron said he holds Turner in high regard and doesn’t think he was a major influence on his decision.

“I’ve been talking with a number of legislators, including Rep. Turner, and most of them feel strongly that the party should be spending less on overhead and more on campaigns,” Herron said. “If that’s conservative, then I think a lot of elected Democrats feel that’s the direction we ought to go.”

Turner’s move is the latest sign of disagreement in the state’s Democratic Party. Several staff members have stepped down in recent months.

Nashville Democratic State Rep. Brenda Gilmore said she didn’t know about the philosophical disagreements between Turner and Herron, but noted that Turner “served well” in the caucus chairman’s role.

“It’s admirable when you serve, you do a good job and then you allow some new leadership and new ideas and fresh perspectives to have an opportunity,” Gilmore said, adding that she’s not interested in the position.

UPDATE Note: The subscription-only Tennessee Journal provides some context:
When the state Democratic Executive Committee meeting began last Saturday, Rep. Mike Turner…was prepared to make a speech calling on Chairman Roy Herron to resign. He ended up announcing his own resignation, effective in January, as House Democratic Caucus chairman.

…An anti-Herron faction of the executive committee apparently believed until Saturday it could muster a majority. Under party bylaws, a chairman can be removed only for malfeasance or incapacity — and no one accuses Herron of either — but the group hoped to pass a resolution calling for his resignation, which in essence would have been a no-confidence vote.

After Herron’s backers handily won two test votes concerning personnel and finance issues, the scheme fell apart, and Turner made a different speech.

See also, Post Politics.

“This is what it is: Roy is my friend and Roy is a good man. And I hope he’s successful. And he needs a caucus chairman that can work with him,” he said.

…“With the short time I’ve got left up here, I don’t need to be butting heads with the party,” he said. “Look, if I was 25 years old — Hell, if I was 45 years old — I would keep fighting and try to get the party to go my way. But I’m not going to be here that much longer. I’ve got about two more terms in me, that’s about it.”

Note: This updates, expands and replaces earlier post.

Roy Herron rule of TN Democrats: He’s not leaving, exit interviews for those who did

Steven Hale has a lengthy piece on Roy Herron’s rule at the state Democratic party and some apparent unhappiness it has inspired – full version HERE, shorter Pith post HERE.

An excerpt from the long version, which has the opening line, “Roy Herron seems like the kind of politician who might question what exactly the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

The departing staffers have thus far declined to comment on the record, despite requests from the Scene. Herron says the exodus is not an omen. He says Kevin Teets, who was brought on as executive director earlier this year, had been talking about “pursuing other opportunities” for some time. Office manager Allison Jones, he says, is going to graduate school, with an eye toward working on policy. And Cortnye Stone, he says, will be leaving her job as deputy finance director to take a position with an upcoming congressional campaign.

And the timing? Hardly surprising, he says. This year’s Jackson Day is expected to bring in upwards of $340,000, he explains, making it one of the most successful ever; staff members viewed it as a finish line, and are now moving on to other things.

Without their side of the story it’s unclear whether they were sprinting to the finish, as Herron puts it, or dashing for the exit. At the request of executive committee member Barbara Wagner, Herron told committee members in an email last week that he has asked the party’s lawyer, Gerard Stranch, and committee member Dwayne Thompson, who works in human resources for a private company, to conduct exit interviews with departing staff members.

But two sources with experience on Herron staffs describe a man who makes an incredibly difficult boss, inspiring labels such as “manipulative” and “micromanager” among a list of pejoratives.

… In his defense, Herron cites the secretary at his Dresden office, who has worked with him for 13 years, and another before her who was with him for 12. He also notes that he had the same secretary for 24 of his 26 years in the state legislature. Ask any of them, he says, and they’d tell you “he’s demanding, he’s a perfectionist, some days he’s sweeter than others. But you can work for him.”

Herron is not wrong when he says any chairman can expect to face a dart storm at an executive committee meeting. Wherever two or three Democrats are gathered, especially these days, there will be bickering. But in hindsight, one of frequently derided TNDP head Chip Forrester’s greatest achievements — intentionally or not — may have been providing regular opportunities for venting, avoiding a build-up of internal pressure. Forrester, who held quarterly meetings and monthly conference calls with committee members, was tight with the committee in general — which may be the reason he largely remained in their good graces, even as he oversaw a devastating four years for the party.

Under Herron, in contrast, some members are feeling out of the loop.

“The people who have come on in this last term don’t know anything but Chip and involvement,” says Sylvia Woods, who has served on the committee for 25 years. “And now it’s like the door has been shut in [their] face, and [they] don’t like that.”

…Multiple executive committee members and party insiders confirm that there have been discussions about an attempt to force Herron out at the committee’s November meeting. Both Woods and Briley say they’ve heard such talk but have discouraged it.

Asked directly if he has been asked to resign, Herron says no. And if he were asked?

“I’d tell them no,” he says.

Two more TNDP staffers resign

Steven Hale reports that two more Tennessee Democratic Party staffers are resigning their positions. That would be three staff resignations since two executive committee members quitting their positions since last weekend in the Tennessee Democratic turmoil under Chairman Roy Herron’s leadership. (Previous posts HERE and HERE.)

From Steven’s story:

Three Democratic sources tell Pith that TNDP’s office manager, Allison Jones, and deputy finance director, Cortnye Stone, gave their two-week notices yesterday. Neither has responded to requests to confirm their departure on the record.

TNDP spokesman Brandon Puttbrese tells Pith that according to party policy, he can’t comment on personnel matters.

Kevin Teets exits as executive director of TNDP

Kevin Teets has left the position of executive director for the Tennessee Democratic party, a position he took after serving as manager of Democrat Eric Stewart’s unsuccessful campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais last year.

State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron wished Teets well but gave no reason for the departure in a news release issued Monday. The move comes after a Jackson Day dinner dispute over Herron’s leadership. (Previous post HERE.)

Here’s the Herron news release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released a statement Monday thanking outgoing party Executive Director Kevin Teets for his service and leadership on Jackson Day:

“Having just led the Tennessee Democratic Party to its most successful Jackson Day in years, Executive Director Kevin Teets is leaving the state Democratic Party to pursue new opportunities.

Kevin led the efforts that doubled the gross and quintupled the amount raised at Jackson Day each of the last two years. That $350,000 will help elect Democrats, and I’m personally grateful for the incredible job Kevin did in leading our team.

Kevin’s hard work made it possible for Sen. Tim Kaine and our dynamic Democratic mayors to energize Democrats statewide and for us to honor Congressman Cooper for all his years of service to the state. We wish Kevin well in all of his future endeavors.”