TNDP: Despite a Bad Night for Southern Democrats, Party Holds Ground in TN

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; November 5, 2014:

SOUTHERN TSUNAMI, TENNESSEE TOUGH

On a night in which Democrats faced a political tsunami across the nation and the South, Tennessee Democrats fought back and did what few observers believed was possible even just a few weeks ago- we held our ground.

Southern Tsunami

  • Last night, with the exception of Senator Mark Warner’s razor-thin victory and Senator Landrieu’s making it to a run-off election, Democrats did not win a single gubernatorial or U.S. Senate seat in the South.
  • Republicans also won their largest majority in Congress since the 1940s.

Unprecedented Spending

Tennessee Democratic candidates also faced an unprecedented flood of millions of dollars in Dark Money and spending from Republican PACs and special interests:

Outside Money

Republican Money

  • Senator Alexander spent well over $8 million.
  • Governor Haslam also spent millions.
  • Speaker Harwell and Lieutenant Governor Ramsey and their PACs spent at least hundreds of thousands more.
  • In Republican money alone, over $10 million was spent.

Holding Ground in the House

Yet despite these hurricane-force headwinds and unprecedented monies, Tennessee’s Democratic state legislative candidates held their ground.

  • The net impact of the onslaught against our candidates in the State House of Representatives was the loss of a single Democratic seat.
  • Rep. David Shepard was re-elected in a rural district despite a not-so-small fortune being spent against him.
  • Perhaps most impressive, Representative-elect Kevin Dunlap reclaimed a heavily rural seat from Republicans, the first time Democrats have taken a rural seat from Republicans since 2006.
  • The three Davidson County Democratic Representatives who in 2012 won seats the Republicans had drawn for Republicans won again, but this time by bigger margins.
  • Rising stars Bill Beck and John Ray Clemmons were newly elected to the House of Representatives.

The Senate

The Senate Democrats added enormous talent in:

  • A Harvard-educated young lawyer named Jeff Yarbro
  • A Yale Law School-educated young law professor named Lee Harris
  • One of only two Tennessee women ever to win a statewide race in Sara Kyle

Tennessee Tough

On a difficult night for Democrats across the country and a particularly difficult night for Southern Democrats, Tennessee Democrats defended our incumbents from unprincipled attacks, elected forward-looking new leaders, and laid the groundwork for 2016.