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TNDP Announces New Director of Finance

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; March 9, 2015:

The Tennessee Democratic Party is pleased to announce the hiring of Lindsay Coleman as Director of Finance. Coleman will lead the Party’s fundraising efforts and coordinate fundraising events across the state.

Coleman has 5 years of experience in campaign and political fundraising and most recently worked on Major General (Ret) Irv Halter’s congressional campaign, where she led a finance team that raised nearly $1,000,000 to out-raise the Republican incumbent by a 3:1 margin.

“We are excited to have Lindsay join the team,” said Mary Mancini, chair of the TNDP, “it’s clear that she will be a valuable addition as we work to rebuild the party, re-energize the base and focus on winning elections across the state.”

“I’m ready to get to work.” said Coleman, “I know that Democrats in Tennessee aren’t where we need to be but I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that our Democratic Party and our Democratic candidates have the resources they need to let Tennesseans know that we are the party fighting for equal opportunity for all of us.”

Mancini Praises State Democratic Legislators’ Renewal of Push for Medicaid Expansion

Press release from Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini; February 12, 2015:

After Republicans such as Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-has his choice of two health care plans) and Sen. Kerry Roberts (R- Springfield-defended his vote based on false information) tried to kill Insure Tennessee last week in a special legislative session and thereby deny 300,000 hardworking Tennesseans access to affordable health care, Democrats introduced two bills and two resolutions today that will keep Insure Tennessee alive:

“State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville)…has introduced two senate joint resolutions and one bill…The first resolution would allow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to pursue his Insure Tennessee proposal in the regular General Assembly session. The second aims to authorize full expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, according to a news release….Yarbro’s bill (SB 885) would repeal legislation passed last year that would require the governor to get the General Assembly’s approval before expanding the state’s Medicaid population under the Affordable Care Act….”Democratic lawmakers agree this issue is too important to let drop just because the governor’s own party let him down,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart (D-Nashvillle) said…”We are committed to finding a way to bring affordable health care to Tennesseans.” State Sen. Lee Harris (D-Memphis) also filed a bill Thursday to make part-time state employees eligible for the same health insurance plans available to state lawmakers.” (Read more...)

Please share this story far and wide (here’s the link: http://goo.gl/rQfSM8) and let folks know that:

TNDP: In ‘Overt Snub’ to Haslam, Ramsey Rigged Health Committee to Kill ‘Insure TN’

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; February 9, 2015:

Ongoing Power Struggle Between Ramsey and Gov. Haslam Threatens Tennesseans’ Lives

Nashville, Tenn. (February 9, 2015) – In an overt snub to Governor Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey stacked the State Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee with “no” votes to kill Insure Tennessee, the Governor’s proposed health care plan.

Rather than working with his own party’s Governor on his top legislative priority and providing hardworking Tennesseans with access to quality, affordable health care, Ramsey rigged the Senate Health and Welfare Committee by removing three health care professionals and the bill’s sponsor and replacing them with hand-picking vocal opponents of Insure Tennessee [see attached graphic]. If he had allowed the duly appointed standing Health and Welfare Committee to remain intact and rule on the proposal, Insure Tennessee would have likely passed by at least a 6-3 vote. Ramsey’s crass power play ensured the death of Insure Tennessee.

The result of Ramsey’s rigged committee:

  • The lives of approximately 280,000 working Tennesseans are now in danger as they will continue to go without health care.
  • Billions of dollars of taxpayer money will be lost – money that hardworking Tennesseans have already paid in taxes will now flow to other states to pay for their health care.
  • As many as one-third of the state’s hospitals remain in danger of closing, resulting in thousands of lost jobs and endangering rural Tennesseans, who will have to drive several counties away in order to receive emergency care.
  • Businesses will avoid those regions of our state where there is no hospital.

Also to be noted is that six of the seven Republican senators who voted to kill Insure Tennessee accept and benefit from health care coverage provided to them by their employer – the state of Tennessee.

It is the height of hypocrisy to not only accept taxpayer-funded health coverage while denying it to others, but also to pretend that the legislative process was fair when it was rigged from the beginning.

***
Senate Health & Welfare Comparison

AFL-CIO Won’t Chuck Brown an Endorsement

Tennessee’s largest labor union has declined to endorse the state’s Democratic candidate for governor — and Charlie Brown couldn’t care less.

Gary Moore, president of Tennessee AFL-CIO, said that the union’s general-election endorsement committee has already met and “there was no endorsement at all in the governor’s race.”

“We feel like that [Brown] is certainly fair to a lot of our ideas, a lot of our philosophy, and certainly think he’s a stand-up gentleman, but we just didn’t feel like he was qualified to lead the state,” Moore told TNReport.

Brown is a 72-year-old Morgan County retiree who, without ever campaigning , won the Democratic gubernatorial primary by more than 35,000 votes on Aug. 7. His nearest competition was from John McKamey, a former Sullivan County mayor and the Democratic candidate for governor endorsed by the AFL-CIO in the primary.

A staunch union man, Brown took umbrage at Moore’s assessment. “What are you talking about that I’m not a leader?” he responded when advised in a phone interview of the former Democratic state lawmaker‘s remarks.

Brown contends he’s developed plenty of leadership skills as a workingman over the years, as a foreman, a superintendent, a lead carpenter and a road construction engineer. Even at his first job — helping build railway tunnels near Oakdale — Brown said he was put in charge of handling high explosives his first day on the payroll. 

But even without an official endorsement from union leadership, Brown expects union workers will support him because their interests are his interests.

“I don’t care if they don’t give me no money, I still believe in the union,” Brown told TNReport.

He added, “I’m not worried about the AFL-CIO, I’m worried about the people in Tennessee, and the unions in Tennessee.”

Brown prophesied a victory in November, with or without official labor endorsements. He’s said he’s confident he’ll be the Volunteer State’s next governor because “anymore, people can’t stand Bill Haslam.”

And that includes a lot of Tennessee Republicans, he said. “I’ve had Republicans stop me and say, ‘Hey, we’re not voting for Haslam, but we’re not saying we’re going to vote for you’,” Brown said. Then he wondered, “But who are they going to vote for?”

If victorious at the polls, Brown says he’s got some big plans for when he assumes office. He said he’ll “fix TennCare” and expand it.

“I already know how to get it back to the people, I’ve already researched this,” Brown said. “And I have to go through a bunch of Republicans, but this will work. It’s like (former governor) Ned McWherter brought it into action, I’m going to bring it back into action.”

He also promises to return tenure to the state’s teachers and expand benefits for state employees. And raising the minimum wage to $10.50 is another priority on his to-do list.

However, while much of his agenda matches that of many Democratic Party politicians in Tennessee, a few of his views demonstrate a decidedly more conservative side.

Brown described himself as unapologetically pro-life and pro gun. His belief in the Second Amendment and Holy Scripture is central to his candidacy, he said.

It was God who led him to run in the first place, and it will be God who is leading his campaign, Brown said. “If you don’t like it, I can’t help you,” he said.

But while Brown knows God is in his corner, he’s getting the feeling the Tennessee Democratic Party isn’t.

Brown’s not at all been impressed with the backing he’s received thus far from TNDP, which he likened unfavorably to the Tennessee AFL-CIO. Other than acknowledging he’s their candidate for governor, Brown said the party bosses have done nothing to help him win votes.

“So, I don’t know what they did with that $500,000 they made up at the Jackson Day Dinner,” he said. “I thought that was to help out the candidates.”

TNDP’s communication’s director, Rick Herron, emailed TNReport a statement saying the party is “looking to invest in races” where a difference can be made in “helping effect a victory.”  The party is “constantly evaluating” its budget, Herron wrote, as well as monitoring “the political landscape across the state and the viability of individual campaigns.”

“In making that assessment, we have invested in selected campaigns, both for the August elections and looking toward November, and we will continue to be attentive to solid opportunities,” wrote Herron, who is the son of TNDP Executive Director Roy Herron.

Roy Herron announced Saturday that he won’t be seeking a new term as the party’s chairman.

Kyle Seeks AG Opinion on Filling His Senate Vacancy

The Shelby County Democratic Party is preparing to select a nominee to fill the vacancy Memphis Sen. Jim Kyle’s departure from the state Legislature will create. But the outgoing upper-chamber minority leader has concerns about how that process will unfold.

On Friday, Kyle, who is retiring after 31 years in the Senate, requested that the state attorney general issue an opinion that sorts out the legal issues surrounding how to select a nominee to run as his replacement to the General Assembly.

Kyle’s request comes on the heels of Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron, a former state senator, telling local party officials that there was confusion about the local caucus process they’ve indicated they will employ to select the nominee. Herron has concerns about the timing of the caucus, who can vote at the caucus, whether the decision would be made by a majority or plurality of votes and whether it would be a public roll-call vote or by secret ballot, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Kyle won a Shelby County judgeship on Aug. 7. and will resign from the Legislature after he’s sworn-in on Aug. 29. However, state law doesn’t provide for a government-run open primary when the timing of a vacancy in the Senate occurs so close to voters going to the polls in November. Instead, officials from the county parties are authorized to choose nominees for the general election ballot.

Democrats such as Sara Kyle, Sen. Kyle’s wife, and former state Sen. Beverly Marrero, who Kyle defeated in the 2012 primary, have expressed interest in the seat. Additionally, current Shelby County Tennessee House members Antonio “2-Shay” Parkinson and G.A. Hardaway, may also be looking to move to the General Assembly’s upper chamber.

Following the GOP-led redistricting in 2011, Marrero and Kyle found themselves opponents in the 2012 Democratic primary. After her primary loss, Marrero told TNReport that she felt “betrayed” by Kyle’s request to Republicans that he be drawn into a race against her instead of State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AAUGH! TNDP’s Woes Could Affect Abortion Amendment Vote

Could an unknown candidate for governor play a decisive role in whether constitutional amendments pass or fail in Tennessee this year?

The Democratic Party of Tennessee has lately been getting unwanted national media attention and mounting ridicule related to their Aug. 7 gubernatorial primary winner, a man named Charles V. “Charlie” Brown. The 72-year-old Morgan County retiree is a political unknown who espouses some rather unorthodox political views and priorities, at least for a modern Democrat.

Brown’s biggest political attribute appears to have something to do with his name. He may have won because his was the only name most Democratic primary voters in any way recognized on their gubernatorial ballot last Thursday. Or, it could have been because it was at the top of the ballot, due to where ‘B’ finds itself in the alphabet, and a majority of the party’s voting base quickly check-marked his box and then moved on to more pressing election questions.

At any rate, unless party officials try to remove Brown’s name from the ballot, he’ll officially be the Democrats’ guy in the gubernatorial race against incumbent Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

And that’s got Davidson County Democratic officials reportedly concerned that exasperated progressives may choose to skip the gubernatorial election on the ballot — which, in turn, could hurt the party’s chances of defeating a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that many active Democrats fear and loathe.

Early polling suggests a majority of Tennessee voters are skeptical of the Amendment 1 abortion-rights question. If passed by voters, the Tennessee Constitution will be amended to declare, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The state’s General Assembly, currently dominated by Republicans, would be granted sweeping powers to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

But there are variables that may come into play that have more to do with turnout than just tallying up the “yes” and “no” votes.

A change-in-wording to the document must win a majority of the votes not on the ballot question itself, but of the total number of people who cast votes in the gubernatorial election. The Tennessean offers this explanation:

If 1.4 million people vote in the governor’s race, for example, the proposal to remove abortion protections from the constitution will need 700,001 votes to become law. But if 1.5 million people vote in the abortion referendum and 1.4 million vote for governor, the same 700,001 votes will get the job done for the amendment, despite being in the minority on that issue. On the other hand, if those 1.4 million vote for governor and just 1.3 million people vote in the abortion referendum, anti-abortion forces will need more than a simple majority to win.

Multiple attempts to reach Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron for comment on Brown’s candidacy have gone unanswered.

TNDP Hoping for Gains in Nov. After Tea Party Losses in Primary

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 8, 2014:

Radical Republicans’ losses throughout Tennessee have opened doors for Democrats in November.

The Tennessee GOP has long held truth and reality in contempt, and Ron Ramsey’s reckless ploy to undermine the independence of our judiciary with hundreds of thousands of dollars in misleading attack ads was just the latest and most offensive example of this contempt. Tennesseans saw through the distortions and outright lies being pushed by the Lieutenant Governor, and a bipartisan majority voted to retain our eminently qualified Supreme Court justices.

Despite a slate of cherry-picked candidates, nearly half of the non-incumbents in the Republican Red to the Roots program managed to lose their general election race, and of the latest non-incumbent additions to the class, three out of four lost. Voters sent a clear message that the radical Tea Party Republican agenda has no place in Tennessee.

Democratic candidates up and down the ballot will continue to take the fight to Tea Party Republicans and continue to make plain that Tennessee values are Democratic values.  Democrats’ continued successes will lay the foundation for this November and beyond.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron made the following statement on the results of the August 7th elections:

“Yesterday’s election results show that Tennessee is a state that supports common sense values and rejects right-wing extremism.”

TNDP: Akbari Win in Memphis ‘a Rejection of Destructive Tea Party Agenda’

Statement from Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron; November 22, 2013:

Memphis — Following the announcement that Democratic candidate, Raumesh Akbari, won the special election race for Tennessee’s open State House District 91 seat, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released the following statement:

Representative Akbari has won a clear victory, but it’s the people of Memphis who are the real winners. Today Memphis voted for a candidate who is ready to fight for opportunity, fairness and people who work for a living.

Rep. Akbari’s victory is also a rejection of a destructive Tea Party agenda that hurts working families. Memphis voters sent a clear message that they want a representative who will be a problem solver and a strong voice against the extremism at the state capitol.

Following after Speaker Lois DeBerry is a huge challenge, but Rep. Akbari is enormously talented and exceptionally bright. This awesome young woman is worthy of the mission ahead of her and all of Tennessee will benefit from her gifts.

TNDP Responds to TN Senate GOP Criticism of Obama Over Shutdown

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; October 8, 2013:

There is no defense for the small group of politicians in one party in one branch who forced the government to shut down — a despicable decision that’s hurting Tennessee’s economy and our working families. But these Republican politicians have proven time and again they are more interested in winning political arguments than solving our nation’s problems.

SHOT:

TN GOP state senators denounce Obama in shutdown letter
Associated Press // October 8, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam and fellow Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly appear to be at odds about who will be blamed for the shutdown of the federal government.

CHASER:

19 Times Democrats Tried to Negotiate With Republicans
National Journal // October 7, 2013

To hear almost any Republican lawmaker speak in post-shutdown Washington is to hear that Democrats are refusing to negotiate to reopen the government and avert a debt default. It’s a talking point that may be selling well, but it’s only true if you ignore anything that happened before last Monday at about 11 p.m.

Republicans think they’ve hit talking-point gold with the message, as we learned from a candid “hot mic” moment last week when Sen. Rand Paul privately told fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell that he didn’t think Democrats had “poll-tested” the “awful” message. ” ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ That’s what he’s saying. Complete surrender, and then we’ll talk to you,” House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News on Sunday.

In a sense, Republicans are right. Democrats view keeping the government open and out of default as Congress’s most basic job, and the characterize anything that threatens that as “ransom,” so they say they’re not willing to come to the table until the government reopens. But, in context, the GOP’s biggest talking point of the shutdown falls apart when you consider that Democrats only started refusing to negotiate after Republicans stopped, the hour before the government shut down a week ago.

For instance, through a Senate Democratic aide, here are all the times since this spring Senate Democrats tried to negotiate with Republicans by sending their budget to a bicameral conference committee. Every time, Republicans blocked the move:

1. 4/23 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

2. 5/6 Senator Reid requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

3. 5/7 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

4. 5/8 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

5. 5/9 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator McConnell blocked.

6. 5/14 Senator Warner asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

7. 5/15 Senator Wyden asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator McConnell blocked.

8. 5/16 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

9. 5/21 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Paul blocked.

10. 5/22 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

11. 5/23 Senator McCaskill asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

12. 6/4 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Rubio blocked.

13. 6/12 Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Lee blocked.

14. 6/19 Senator Murray asked unanimous consent to go to conference, and Senator Toomey blocked.

15. 6/26 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Cruz blocked.

16. 7/11 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

17. 7/17 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Mike Lee blocked.

18. 8/1 Senator Durbin requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Marco Rubio blocked.

19. 10/2 Senator Murray requested unanimous consent to go to conference, Senator Toomey blocked.

“For six months I’ve tried to enter into formal budget negotiations with Paul Ryan, only to be repeatedly denied permission to negotiate by Ted Cruz and the tea party,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. “Now, a week into a government shutdown that he could end at a moment’s notice, Speaker Boehner is simply trying to distract from his constantly changing list of demands.”

The parties flipped positions Monday, the first day of the new fiscal year, when Republicans tried to finally start conference-committee negotiations just minutes before midnight. Democrats balked—”We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor—considering that they had been rebuffed almost 20 times beforer and that Republicans had shown no interest until it was already clear the government was closing. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted a picture of a faux conference committee, which included zero Democrats, saying, “We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate.”

Perhaps we could have avoided a shutdown if they had been ready to negotiate before the government ran out of money.

Herron Calls on GOP Lawmakers to Stop Their Own Pay During Shutdown

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; October 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron today called on Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Congressmen Stephen Fincher and Scott DesJarlais and other Republicans who shut down government to stop paying themselves.

“Congressional Republicans are cutting off the pay of almost a million U.S. workers, but continue to pay the least productive, most wasteful, least efficient and highly paid federal employees — themselves,” Herron said. “Because Congressional Republicans refuse to do their work, federal workers cannot do our work.”

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted U.S. Rep. Blackburn and another Republican Congressman, asking if they would forgo their $174,000 salary while other federal employees are being denied pay because of the government shutdown. Blackburn refused to answer and still has not answered.

Blackburn’s comment comes on the heels of her Tennessee Republican colleague U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher’s controversial quoting of the Bible when arguing against food stamps.

Herron said, “Why should the politicians pay themselves for refusing to take care of business while denying others’ paychecks for taking care of the people’s business? Congresswoman Blackburn has so far refused to say whether she will stop her pay, but Congressman Fincher has quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and told her what she and he should do: ‘Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.'”

BACKGROUND:

CNN Host Asks GOP Representatives Whether They’d Give Up Their Salary During A Shutdown, Hilarity Ensues

ThinkProgress // Annie-Rose Strasser and Adam Peck // September 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

On Monday, CNN host Ashleigh Banfield confronted two Republican representatives – Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) – to see whether they themselves would be willing to forgo a paycheck in the event of a government shutdown, something nearly every other federal employee would be forced to do.

“So you are both paid $174,000 a year, and that is the salary,” she said, “Would you be prepared to add some rider or amendment on to a continuing resolution that would take you out of the essential services category and stop payment on your paychecks in order to get a continuing resolution through, and yes or no?”

There was a long pause before the two tried to pivot to a different topic. Eventually, Rohrabacher stepped in to say that members of Congress were treated the same as other federal employees:

BLACKBURN: We are waiting to see what they send back, and I hope that as you were running the countdown clock that you are I have two grandsons, and their share of the national debt is now over $53,000 each.

BANFIELD: No no no. I’m sorry. I asked a specific question, and there are a lot of the government workers going to stop receiving their paychecks, and a there are a lot of the military service members who are serving overseas who might be stopped being paid and veterans whose benefits will be affected. Would you –

ROHRABACHER: Let me answer that. Members of Congress should not be treated any differently than any other federal employee.

BANFIELD: Is that a yes?

ROHRABACHER: Whatever happens to us when it comes to what we get in benefits and whether it is retirement or health care and whatever happens to the average federal employee should happen to us, and that rule should not be changed.
If the government shuts down on Tuesday, all government employees who are considered “non-essential personnel” will be told to stop coming to work and, for the period they’re not working, they won’t be getting paid. Those federal employees also wouldn’t get back payment when the government resumed its work, unless Congress explicitly approved a bill saying they would. Members of Congress are considered “essential.”