Sunday, June 08, 2014

On the Judicial endorsements

 Friends, Memphians, Democrats. Lend me your ears, I have come to bury the judicial nominee decisions, not to praise them. The evil that we did that night will live after us, there was precious little good that will be buried with the bones of the upcoming campaign season.

  Thursday night as I sat in the front row of the SCDP judicial meeting, I was struck by the sheer absurdity of the theater that I was witnessing. Backbiting, mud-slinging, lying, and deceit were slung around in a capricious manner. 

  I blame the provincialism and outright not paying attention of many of my fellow Exec Com members in many cases affecting their judgement. This was evident from the start when the gentleman who was in charge of the Primary Board was peppered with questions about recommendations despite his repeatedly saying they only passed on the information of rather they passed the test of what primaries they had voted in.  This is sadly funny in that most incumbent judges do not vote in primaries for this very reason.
  The process for endorsing was immediately thrown in to disarray by Felicia Corbin Johnson attacking Julie Byrd and causing the process to be completely changed from what we had originally agreed upon in May. The original plan was for if multiple candidate were deemed worthy, then they would be accepted and both would be endorsed.  In a non-partisan race such as the judgeships, this is a good idea as it prevents the chance for a schism, notifies voters that, hey, this person or these people are both Dems and you can make a personal choice based on what you know, and allows for greater unity of party effort in races.

  Instead, what we got was a near three hour theater of the absurd caused in large part by Corbin Johnson attacking Byrd over her not having voted in Shelby County in 24 years. What she left out was that Byrd in that time has lived in Mumford and commuted in to the city in that time frame and was active in the Tipton County Democratic Party and had served as its chairwoman. If Byrd had any inkling of what was going to happen, maybe she brings that up and other allegations about Corbin Johnson that I was privy to that affected my vote. As a result, what had been an agreed up system of endorsing two people and letting the voters choose was changed to one where were forced to choose between candidates. 

  Now, this did help a family friend (Danny Kail) and several other candidates that I personally liked more than their opposition. But that's not the point. The point is that these candidates asked for our endorsement operating under the belief that if they passed the review board, we would most likely endorse them, regardless of if someone else who is a qualified Democrat was also running. This would give the voters a choice of youth vs experience and so on. 

  Should the party have even done this or had a more through process of vetting? Arguably no on the first and yes on the second. We had endorsed 8 years ago and no real reason not to do so now. Other members of the Exec Com who are lawyers had issues with what we did.

  However, if you lost the race, you wouldn't be able to blame the SCDP. You wouldn't necessarily feel acrimony towards it and would want to work with it in the future towards our goal of electing Democrats. How many of these candidates that we had promised one thing and went a completely different direction will want to help us very much in the future? Will they want to go out and help our other candidates in the August election? No, no they won't.
  The party exists to elect Democrats to office, first and foremost. But it also exists to build up our bench of qualified candidates for the future. It and satellite organizations such as the Young Democratic Club exist for those reasons. We should be exciting young people to embrace the party and work towards its long term success.  We also should be exciting Democratic or Democrat leaning voters to get out and vote, get out and volunteer, and donate.  Instead, we hurt ourselves and potentially cost ourselves some tight races.


Steve Ross said...

Well played sir, well played.

Half Empty said...

The decision to endorse judicial candidates was unfortunate, but there was obviously a reason that endorsements were done. I was not privy to the exact reasons for the decision, but I am pretty sure it wasn't done on a whim. That having been said, the problem with the SCDP, if I understand correctly, is that it is too democratic (little d). Although a committee presented its recommendations to the at large membership, the executive committee as a whole was interested in flexing its collective (and some might say uninformed) muscle. So be it. Years pass. The players change, but the story remains the same, and Democrats county wide wring their hands and tear their hair out. But let me give you another scenario. A self- appointed committee produces a list of endorsements after a closed door session without allowing those endorsements to be confirmed by the entire executive committee. As I understand it, this is the way the local Republican party handled their endorsements (I could be wrong, my knowledge is just hearsay). No drama, and very businesslike. Given that a decision was made to make endorsements, would this have been the preferred method? I don't think so. I suspect that the Republican manner of handling things is one of the factors that has contributed to the rise of the Tea Party movement, which has created a schism within the party. Bottom line - yes, it's unfortunate, but no, not going to lose any sleep over it. When the local Democratic party screws up it tends to do so in a very sloppy and public manner. I doubt there's anything anyone can do to change that.