Monday, August 26, 2013

It's time to think about a Democratic Senate candidate.

As Sara Kyle decides whether to challenge Governor Haslam and his billions in the 2014 Governor's Race (and here's hoping that she DOES), there is more to think about for 2014.

With the announcement that State Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas has decided to challenge Senator LAMAR! Alexander in the Senate GOP Primary, it raises some questions that Democrats need to think about.  As we have seen in other states, when a moderate Senator such as Alexander is challenged in a GOP Primary and then defeated, it has enabled Democrats to elect a Senator, such as Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and has opened up possibilities for Michelle Nunn (yes, that's Sam's daughter) in Georgia.

Does Joe Carr have a real chance to knock off LAMAR! in the primary? Well, once we start seeing his disclosures and can determine if the Club For Growth and ALEC will put serious funding into Carr's campaign, then that could cause Democrats to rethink whether to field a candidate that can raise money into the race.

If no one else gets in, I will probably vote for Jacob Maurer; he seems to have the right stands on the issues for me, but I harbor no illusions about his ability to beat LAMAR!.  However, what if Carr really gets the wackos out to beat LAMAR! in the Primary?  The Old Guard GOP truly hates the Tea Partiers with a purple passion, and if the last member of the Holy Trinity that built the TNGOP (Baker, Thompson and Alexander) is upended, does anyone else think that their money might go to a Democrat worth voting for?

I think we may know the answer to this question before Christmas.  And, if it looks like Carr will make enough headway to beat LAMAR!, then we need to get someone ready to run.

Given that the type of person that OGGOPs might be willing to support in the event of a Carr upset, there's really only one Democrat who could get the support and funding from those folks:

Jim Cooper.

I know, I know.  No, I am NOT high or drunk or otherwise altered.  Under normal circumstances, I would be calling for him to be primaried from the left.  However, as you may have noticed, these are NOT normal circumstances, and if Joe Carr were to somehow snatch the GOP nomination from LAMAR!, there are a lot of GOP donors who would be pissed off enough to help Cooper.  This may be his best shot.

All of this, of course, comes down to whether the wackos in the TNGOP can knock off the ultimate OGGOP; no one thinks Cooper could take LAMAR! mano-a-mano.  However, if Carr proves to be a more formidable force than anyone believed, Cooper would be ready to send him back to Rutherford County.  It would also mean that a Democrat would win a Senate race for the first time in this state since Al Gore was re-elected in 1990.

All of which means Jim Cooper needs to think about this seriously.  As much as I have been at odds with him, he clearly would be our best choice in the event of a GOP upset.   I would absolutely hold my tongue and keyboard and try not to criticize him, knowing what the alternative could be.

And if we had Kyle and Cooper at the top of our ticket, it sure as hell might encourage Democrats to run for State House and State Senate positions, and that is needed.

Jim Cooper, take this under consideration, if you have not done so already.  If Carr can beat LAMAR!, you could move up and take another Senate seat from the GOP, which would be indeed a good thing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


It seems that Jim DeMint, the batshit-crazy former US Senator from South Carolina who now runs the morally and ethically bankrupt Heritage Foundation, is in Tennessee on his Defund ObamaCare tour.

Well, the working woman in Nashville, Mary Mancini of Tennessee Citizen Action, has a "welcoming" video for DeMint right here:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Whalum wins his lawsuit and there will be a new election, but does this open new questions

Reverend Kenneth Whalum won his challenge of the August 2012 election that saw him lose his seat on the Unified District Board to Kevin Woods by 108 votes.

Chancellor Kenny Armstrong ruled that there had to be a new election due to problems with the election that made the number of disputed votes larger than the margin of Woods' victory.  From the Daily News article:

“Admittedly, the mistakes here were honest mistakes and non-intentional,” Armstrong concluded. “They, however, bear a direct relationship to the uncertainty of the election outcome if all voters had been allowed to participate and vote in the District 4 race.”

So, as it appears that Woods' election was improper (albeit through no fault of his own), this raises a new question: were the actions he took after September 1, 2012 as a member of that Board valid and binding?  Were there any instances where Woods was the deciding vote in a Board matter and, if so, does this ruling invalidate that vote?

I hope someone familiar with election law can answer this and update in the comments.

Friday, August 09, 2013

On the death of a newspaper and why I don't subscribe to the Commercial Appeal

Not to toot my own horn, but I have been able to read since the age of 3.  And the first things that I read were newspapers.  Growing up 100 miles from Chicago, I read the Dixon Telegraph, the Rockford Morning Star and Chicago's American at my house.  My grandparents took the Dixon paper, the Chicago Tribune (presumably avoiding the editorial section) and the greatest paper I ever read, the Chicago Daily News, where as a 7-year-old I first read the great Mike Royko.

Twenty years ago, when out-of-town Sunday papers were sent to Memphis, I would frequent World News downtown or Tobacco Corner Newsroom out east to find the papers I wanted, sometimes spending as much as $20 on a Sunday to get those HUGE papers to spend the day with.  So, I love great newspapers.

While it may not have been great, the Nashville City Paper had great moments and good writers, at least one I know personally, and that is why I mourn its passing.  Its last issue was printed and hit the streets today, and they went out with a wonderful editorial about how Nashville needs newspapers.  They will be deeply missed.

Since Craigslist sucked all the money out of the classified ads with free online classifieds and with so much of our news coming online, it has become nearly impossible to make ANY profit with a newspaper, much less the unreasonable profit margins demanded by the demons of Wall Street.  Somehow the Daily News and the weekly Memphis Flyer stay above water and produce good journalism for our city and region.

Which brings me to the major daily for the city (but no longer for the region; Scripps abdicated their coverage of regional events long ago), the Commercial Appeal.  When we moved to Memphis 41 years ago, my folks took the Press-Scimitar, the afternoon daily, instead of the morning CA.  When the P-S met the fate of all afternoon papers (at least 15 years pre-Internet) and closed in 1983, my dad reluctantly subscribed to the Commercial Appeal.  Other than carrying Mike Royko, there really was not much to it, except for the ace political reporter, Terry Keeter, who knew where the bodies WEREN'T buried.

Until the bottom fell out, the CA has been the cash cow for Scripps and they meant to keep it that way (Google Chris Davis' stellar coverage of the CA-Newspaper Guild battles at the Flyer that decimated the Guild).  Frankly, other than Wendi Thomas (who has even seen her columns cut back in the last few months) and Geoff Calkins (the best sportswriter in the country, day in and day out, IMO), there's no real reason to give my money to Scripps for less value every day.

Reading the City Paper editorial, I was about to give in and subscribe to the CA so as to support our major daily paper.  Then I heard about something that was, frankly, the last straw.  Over a year ago, I believe, the wonderful cartoonist for the CA, Bill Day, who was afraid of nothing and no one with his fearless cartoons, was released from the CA, ostensibly in a cost-cutting move.  Other papers have done the same thing around the country, choosing instead to get a cheaper syndicated cartoonist.

The final nail in the coffin was, for me, hearing that this week they hired a cartoonist from South Carolina to be the regular cartoonist.  Does this person know the area?  Will he be fair and straight across the board, as Bill Day was?  Why not just bring back Day, if Day wanted?

My own suspicions are that Day's cartoons aggravated the conservatives in the suburbs, whom CA management have desperately sought to appease and keep as subscribers, despite the fact that they do not make up a majority of the city or county.

I love newspapers, but I want value for my money.  If I lived in Little Rock, I would take the Democrat-Gazette, horrid editorial and op-ed pages and all, because Walter Hussmann is committed to news coverage and staffing his newsroom.  They still cover the state of Arkansas, because it is their mission.

I feel bad for the reporters at the CA, because, as the City Paper noted, you don't do more with less, you do LESS with less,.  Sadly, less is all that Scripps management wants to give this city, and I refuse to pay for it.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

So where are the YOUNG Democrats coming from?

First, y'all need to go and read JR Lind's Weekly Obsession from the soon-to-be-defunct Nashville City Paper.  Go ahead, I can wait.  Ok, got it?  Good.

He makes a helluva point that the TNDP and its enablers are living in a past where 1994 never happened and we are in perpetual 1992 and people WANT to vote for Blue Dogs and EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE IF YOU JUST LISTEN TO US!!!!

Well, no.  The part that froze me but did not surprise me was this quote about the departure of Lowe Finney from the State Senate:

Not to disparage the Senate Democratic Caucus, many of whom have given years — and in some cases, nearly a century — of service to the state of Tennessee. But that’s just the problem. 
With Finney, the average age of a Senate Democrat is 64. 
Without him, it’s 69.
Whoa.  Now, I remember that Ross had noted something similar at VIBINC, but I can't find it right now.

Where is our future coming from, people?  I am not disparaging the state YDs; Sean Braisted is busting his butt to build that organization.  Where, though, are our Young Democrats?  We need more people like Braisted, Spencer Bowers (UT-Martin), Charles Uffelman (U Memphis) and more young WOMEN to be involved and to RUN for office.

Speaking of that, what happened to George Monger?  Remember the young tech whiz that Democrats named to the County Election Commission but inexplicably refused to re-appoint him, naming Anthony Tate in his stead?  (By the way, I hear good things about Tate's work so far.)  I have heard disturbing reports that there were other legislators afraid of this rising star and wanted to short-circuit his career.  PEOPLE, THIS IS THE TYPE OF YOUNG DEMOCRAT WE NEED!!!  HERE AND THROUGHOUT THE STATE.

So, I will tell you what I think should happen.  With the passing of Lois DeBerry, we now have an open seat in the General Assembly.  George Monger is the type of young, aggressive leader that we need in Nashville who will not be afraid to call shenanigans on the GOP.  We need to encourage him to run for District 91, and if the County Commission appoints someone to fill that position in the interim before the necessary special election, we need to encourage them to appoint George to that seat.

We don't need to stop with George; we need younger, stronger voices representing Democratic policies in our General Assembly, our County Commission , our City Council and our Unified School Board whenever and wherever possible.  We need to build a BENCH, which is what the state GOP is doing, and they are smart to do so.  We need these younger people because without them, the Democratic Party has no future here.

We need to make sure that they have good jobs, we need to encourage College Democrats clubs at ALL of our local colleges, not just U of M (I know CBU will be a tough nut to crack, but still....).  We need to encourage the building of Young Democrats clubs in every county here.  Terry Spicer was doing a terrific job, then he moved, but now he's back, so maybe he could get involved!

And Shelby County elected Bryan Carson as County Chair, who got elected for far more than his mother's good name, he got it because he WORKED for it.  We need younger people involved because old farts like me won't be around forever.  We need to ENCOURAGE our Young Democrats, not run them off.

So, what should we do about this?  I want to hear from you in the comments.  And, George Monger, PLEASE run for District 91!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Let's talk about what we can do to help take control away from the GOP

A lot of people look at the Tennessee Democratic Party and ask, why aren't they doing more to turn the electoral tide back in our direction.  First, of all, they really don't know how, because they have been the party of power for so long that they have no clue how to raise money other than to stick out their hands at lobbyists.

When the GOP is in control and the lobbyists don't need you anymore, and you really don't know how to do grassroots organizing, because you really haven't had to do so, you get kind of lost.  Chip Forrester tried, but never really got anything going, though he had a good staff.  Roy Herron has dedicated staff, but isn't really raising money these days, other than to sell tickets for Jackson Day.

So, what do we do?  Well, start by getting involved in your County Party, if possible.  If you look up your county and see there is no real party apparatus there, contact the County Chairs Association to see how you can get involved in your county.

In Shelby County, we have a good young chair in Bryan Carson, and he is building an organization and if you live here, he could use your help.  Come out on August 27 to Spaghetti Warehouse from 7-9 PM and meet the Executive Committee.  Yes, there will be a $20 donation, because they are going to need big bucks to run their August and November GET OUT THE VOTE drives in 2014.

I am going to have more later about the countywide races.  I hope to see you on August 27.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Sara Kyle is seriously considering a race for Governor!

This is nothing short of spectacular news, giving the state's Democrats a rallying figure at the top of the ticket.

Joey Garrison broke the story at the Tennnessean, referencing the Facebook page I mentioned earlier this morning. While she has much to discuss and think about, we need to be prepared to support her in this run as much as possible.  We need to be there with time, money and whatever needs to be done in order to make this a successful campaign.

With a strong candidate like Sara at the top of the ticket, more candidates will be encouraged to attempt campaigns for the General Assembly and the State Senate, which are desperately needed.  It will be an uphill battle, as Haslam has all the money he will need, with the Koch Brothers and ALEC standing by to give even more.  This is why we have to be prepared with time, money, and organization.

More on this later, but this is terrific news!

Run, Sara, Run!!!!

Well, it seems as though my friends Matt Kuhn and Michael Lipe have started a page on Facebook to encourage the last Democratic statewide-elected official NOT named Bredesen to run for Governor in 2014.  After thinking about this, I LIKE the idea, for more than just the reasons they state.

What, you don't know who they mean?  Let me let them tell you:

Aside from Phil Bredesen, who was the last Tennessee Democrat elected to a statewide office in Tennessee?
Sara Kyle
In 1994, one of the worst years for Democrats in Tennessee, who was the only democrat to win a statewide office?
Sara Kyle

Who was the last woman elected state wide in Tennessee?
Sara Kyle.

Who could start tomorrow with an organization spanning from the tri-cities where she was born, Nashville where she served in state government to Memphis where she is a wife, mother and church member?
Sara Kyle

Who could start raising money next week through national women's groups for public service?
Sara Kyle
Who was perceived as the best campaigner in the last democratic primary for Governor?

Sara Kyle (I'll give you that comes from her husband, Sen Jim Kyle)
Who cares about the people of Tennessee and the consumers she looked out for as the Director of TRA than our current Governor, who seems more interested in giving kickbacks to cronies than working for Tennesseans.
Sara Kyle
Who does Tennessee need to protect working Tennesseans?
Sara Kyle

Please forward this to interested Tennesseans who want Sara Kyle to run for Governor - who stands for all Tennesseans.
Run, Sara, Run

Friday, August 02, 2013

J Smooth nails this.

Don Lemon made some really dumb comments on CNN this week about racism.  J Smooth responds: