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The Tennessee Democratic Party Does Not Need a Republican-Lite Leader

January 24, 2013

This Saturday, the Tennessee Democratic Party’s (TNDP) Executive Committee will vote on a new party Chair. There are only two men left in the running, former State Senator Roy Herron and current party Treasurer Dave Garrison.

Herron claims to have it locked up, but I would encourage members of the Executive Committee to give Garrison another look. Choosing Herron as leader can only increase my dislike of the TNDP, and is unlikely to actually move forward progressive values in Tennessee.

A look at Roy Herron’s voting record – he voted:

  • For a bill requiring hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers, which is both medically unnecessary and an attempt to restrict access. (voted the same way as Stacey Campfield)
  • For the guns in bars bills. Because we totally need more firearms around in bars.
  • For a bill to require welfare recipients to be drug tested (voted the same way as Stacey Campfield; let’s just point out the hypocrisy of not requiring the same thing of our state legislators and everybody getting government contracts)
  • For a bill intended to divert Title X family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood to already overburdened public health departments (voted the same way as Stacey Campfield, who was in the House at the time)

Yes, there are a few less problematic things in Herron’s record. He voted against SJR127 and “don’t say gay.” But this is also the guy who called Nancy Pelosi “too extreme.”

I’ve seen some speculation that Herron can attract donations and support from rural voters, who are presumed to be more conservative. I don’t know if the folks saying that have ever spoken to any rural, conservative voters, but they’re not so stupid that they’re going to be fooled by the same old losing Blue Dog crap. I was born and raised in east Tennessee, and I have talked with people who have switched votes from R to D. They didn’t do it because the Dems convinced them they were conservative enough. They did it because the Republicans finally went too far, got too conservative, locally and nationally, and they couldn’t stomach it. And all those years they were voting Republican, it wasn’t because the Repubs were completely awesome – for many of them, they figured that if there was no difference between the parties, they might as well go for the “real” thing, not the guy who’s trying to look just like it and might not be sincere. To pretend that looking like a Republican is the way to win rural Tennessee voters is frankly an insult to those voters, to pretend they’re not smart enough to tell the difference.

Tennessee’s Democratic leaders have tried for *years* to get votes by cozying up to Republican positions. It hasn’t worked. Democrats have lost ground, over and over and over. Those same leaders have been told for *years* that they need to be the party that’s actually inclusive, that actually stands up for human rights and justice, that isn’t the party of hate and exclusion. They haven’t listened. When a state Republican politician threatened to “stomp” any transgender woman he happens to run across, the TNDP couldn’t even be arsed to call that messed up.

Look, I don’t know Dave Garrison. He has no voting record to scrutinize, and I get that there are some concerns that he’s too close to the current, unimpressive Chair. Herron *does* have such a record, though, and I’m not impressed. In this case, I think I’d rather see the devil I don’t know in charge, because the devil I know doesn’t have much use for liberal policy, and isn’t likely to be a leader in distinguishing the current party from its Republican twins. I’m literally saying, “I’d rather take my chances on a guy I know absolutely nothing about than take more of this.”

I know there’s the argument that the Chair doesn’t set policy, doesn’t need to be liberal, just needs to support the candidates – but the Chair sure does have some sway in which candidates the party supports, who is encouraged to run for office – and what sort of politicians do you think are going to get that support and encouragement under Herron? What issues do you think the TNDP will call attention to? What will they fight for? Who do you think will see the benefit of Herron’s campaign experience?

I think we all know the answers to those questions. I think there’s a legitimate concern that with Herron, we get more of the same Republican-lite TNDP, more of the same alienation of people who should be supporters, more of the same refusal to stand up for and even actively harming the vulnerable, more of the same losing, losing, losing.

I don’t know how much good it actually does to contact your District member of the TNDP Executive Committee. This list and contact info is here – it’s done by Senate district, so you figure that out, and then you know which one to contact. For example, I can use this site to confirm that I’m in Senate district 21, and use the list to see that the District 21 reps on the Executive Committee are Will Cheek and Doris Medlin. It doesn’t hurt to try.

See also:

  • LeftWingCracker, with two thoughtful posts on the race.
  • Andrea Zelinski for the Nashville City Paper.
  • There’s a new story out about whether a non-profit Herron leads failed to use state money to provide scholarships like it was supposed to.
  • As usual, Aunt B puts it more succinctly than I could:

    I think it just basically means that the troubles continue for the Democratic Party. Folks are rightly worried by a guy aligned too closely to Chip. But that the viable response you have to that is a guy too closely aligned to the bad old “Let’s just pretend we’re Republicans Lite” days is also not good. I mean, what does Roy Herron think a Democrat is?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. lance corona permalink
    January 25, 2013 11:58 am

    You can’t see the big picture. Take a step back to see how President Obama’s positions changed just exactly when they need to, not before they needed to. We may have wanted him to take a stand before hand. In the end he was proven smarter than us. Voting on a bill is not always clear cut, they can include other items.

  2. January 25, 2013 1:07 pm

    Dave Garrison has been to close to the problem all a long. He represents an elite group of the party who want to kick the rank and file aside to help big business. I here he was involved in some of the activities at Gore 2000 that made state democrats feel left out and discouraged. Recently Dave Garrison has been involved in pro business deal that displaces many people from there homes in highly democratic neighborhood.

    • January 25, 2013 1:42 pm

      I definitely appreciate hearing more about Garrison, who as I mentioned is more of an unknown to me at this point (especially if folks have news coverage or anything comparable to a voting record, objectivity-wise to share).

  3. January 25, 2013 6:22 pm

    Thank you for the shoutout; sorry I wasn’t more helpful last night when you emailed me. This is a terrific post and I linked to it today.

    • January 25, 2013 7:40 pm

      No problem, Steve. Thanks for the link and your comment.

Trackbacks

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