Friday, April 25, 2014

Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Warns Voters About Rogue Ballots

April 25, 2014

Chairman Bryan Carson                                                        
Shelby County Democratic Party                                           
Phone: 901.314.4617                                      
Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Warns Voters About Rogue Ballots.

Chairman Bryan Carson has issued a warning to all voters that multiple ballots are being mailed or distributed during the Democratic Primary elections and they are not officially sanctioned by the Shelby County Democratic Party.  The Party neither endorses candidates nor does it produce a ballot during a primary.

Some individuals produce ballots as a profit making venture during election season at the expense of the candidates.  These individuals are not necessarily concerned with who the best candidates are but which candidates can afford to pay to be on their ballots.

Many candidates are not listed on these ballots primarily because they chose not to pay the exorbitant costs to be included.  In those cases, the opposing candidates are solicited and listed, if the fee is paid.

Chairman Carson stated “These unofficial ballots are not a reliable, valid or sanctioned voting guide.  Voters should avoid using these rogue ballots as a basis for making voting decisions.”

A complete listing of Democratic Primary candidates can be found on the Shelby County Democratic Party’s website,, or the Election Commission’s website at

What? Haven't voted yet? Here's the list of Satellite locations, GO!

Satellite Early Voting is from today through next Thursday, May 1.  Here are the list of polling places:

Early Voting Locations - April 25 thru May 1st
Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA), Sec. 2-6-103, notice is hereby given by the Shelby County Election Commission of unrestricted early voting for voters in all wards and precincts in Shelby County,
Tennessee. This early voting will take place as follows:
DOWNTOWN EARLY VOTING LOCATION: Shelby County Office Building, 157 Poplar Ave., 38103
Beginning: Wednesday, April 16 – Thursday, May 1, 2014 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturdays, April 19 & April 26, 2014 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
CLOSED FRIDAY, April 18, 2014, in observance of Good Friday
Beginning: Friday, April 25 – Thursday May 1, 2014 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Abundant Grace Fellowship Church 1574 E. Shelby Dr., 38116
Greater Lewis Street Baptist Church 152 E. Parkway N., 38104
Agri-Center 7777 Walnut Grove Rd.
Greater Middle Baptist Church 4982 Knight Arnold, 38118
Anointed Temple of Praise 3939 Riverdale Rd., 38141
Mississippi Blvd. Church – Family Life Center 70 N. Bellevue Blvd., 38106
Baker Community Center 7942 Church Rd., 38053
Mt. Zion Baptist Church 60 S. Parkway E., 38106
Bellevue Baptist Church 2000 Appling Rd., 38016
New Bethel Baptist Church 7786 Poplar Pike St., 38138
Bethel Church 5586 Stage Rd., 38134
Raleigh United Methodist Church 3295 Powers Rd., 38128
Berclair Church of Christ 4536 Summer Ave., 38122
Riverside Baptist Church 3560 S. Third St., 38109
Collierville Church of Christ 575 Shelton Dr., 38017
Shiloh Baptist Church 3121 Range Line Rd., 38127
Dave Wells Community Center 915 Chelsea Ave., 38107
The Refuge Church 9817 Huff N Puff Rd., 38002
Glenview Community Center 1141 S. Barksdale St., 38114

White Station Church of Christ 1106 Colonial Rd., 38117

Monday, April 14, 2014

Some thoughts on where we are and WHO we are and WHAT we are as Democrats.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a discussion with a friend who is also an elected official.  My friend suggested, with good reason, that next year, when there are NO partisan elections, that we have a retreat or gathering with as many of us who consider ourselves to be Democrats gather to discuss just what we mean when we say we are Democrats.

Part of our problem, at least on a statewide basis, is that so many Democrats wanted to run from what it meant to be a NATIONAL Democrat, since that involved discussions of race and what we were as Democrats prior to 1964.  We had Democrats in the rural areas that wanted no part of the Democrats of the urban areas that brought them statewide victories.  Many of them retired or got beat in response to the election of Barack Obama as President.

Also as much as no one wanted to admit it, there were (and ARE) urban Democrats who wanted no part of the rural Democrats that enabled us to control the General Assembly for 140 years, along with the machinery of state government.

The true fact, as far as I am concerned, Democrats are not all ANYTHING.  We are a polyglot, with white, black, brown, straight, gay, transgender, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, with the occasional Buddhist thrown in for good measure.  The Republicans have spent the last 40 years attacking any position left of far right, much less left of center.  In the process, they have done their best to destroy harmony in this country, marginalizing centrist Republicans and forcing moderates like Lamar Alexander to kowtow to the further of the right.

However, due to this situation, as many of us struggle with how to move the country's true center back TO the center, we face a struggle within our own ranks.  These pop up especially in the primaries.

Those of us that sit on the Executive Committee must understand (and I include myself) that we are not the Party, but merely represent it.  Those who vote in primaries are the ones who truly can call themselves Democrats, and we have to figure out A) why so many Democrats refuse to take part in the primary process and B) just what it is that they want for their candidates.

And, C) why it appears that white candidates feel that they can't win primaries, and D) why African-Americans feel that white Democrats won't vote for African-Americans in county general elections.

Both of these are, in my opinion, overreactions.  Both of the men named Harold Ford could not have been elected without white support, and Steve Cohen could not have been elected without African-American support.  Indeed, I find that when it comes to elections involving actual issues and policy, such as executive races (Mayor, Sheriff) or legislative, all Democrats vote together.

That, above all else, is why ALL Democrats need to gather next year.  I intend to work behind the scenes for this as we move through the year.

Here's something to consider:  Regarding clerkship races, white Democrats often see no difference in policy, and many of them believe that court clerkships should be appointed by the judges of those jurisdictions rather than be elected.  I have said this before, and will keep saying it.  Clerkship races tend to be more about the number of jobs that can be hired than any policies that need to be reviewed. This is why we lose white Democrats at that point in the ballot.  That, and the face that we lose all types of Democrats that far down the ballot.

One of the problems that African-American candidates face is that, while activists like myself know these candidates, the average voters do not.  I can help to a certain extent, but if you plan to run countywide, you had better be able to raise at least $50,000 or you aren't going to have a chance to beat an incumbent.   Why?  Because you need to be able to do direct mail to Democrats, especially white Democrats.  If you have sent mail pieces to white Democrats, that makes it far more likely that they will greet you warmly when you do targeted door-to-door.   (I had a candidate once ask me this very thing several years ago).  We are, in fact seeing this more often, as I am starting to get mail pieces from all Democratic candidates.

As familiarity increases, so will the number of victorious Democratic candidates.  This leads me to my next topic.

As Democrats, we need to stop beating each other up in public.  (Waits for the tomatoes to be thrown).  I understand my own role in this, and work to do better.  To those who are candidates in the primary, I want to know not only why you are the best Democrat, but to know how you will beat the Republican you will face in the general.

And once we have completed this process, we have to work together and elect Democrats.  You may not like whom the Democratic electorate has selected as the candidate, but we have to respect that choice, regardless, because, to paraphrase Hyman Roth, this is the Party we have chosen.

This, too, is why I hope that we, as a Party Executive Committee, do NOT choose to endorse in the non-partisan judicial races.  If we wish to identify those who have voted more in the Democratic primaries, that's one thing.  Choosing between Democrats is not OUR job, it's the electorate's job, and we had better respect that.  It also takes focus away from our primary function: to assist the NOMINEES of the Party with their elections.  Also, as I know (and have DONE in the past), the ExecCom members will help whomever they please, as it's a NON-PARTISAN election.  ENDORSEES are NOT NOMINEES, now or ever.

With regard to Party Discipline, we have to be judicious and select the proper time for such matters, which is NOT the same thing as suggesting that we have NO discipline.   We can move forward from here.

I also have to say that Bryan Carson is doing an amazing job of juggling all the various groups within the party, and those of us who have been around for a while need to be there for him more than we have been.  He's doing a fine job right now, and he continues to bust his butt to elect Democrats.

It's time to work for the primary candidate of your choice, and then support whichever nominee is chosen by the Democratic electorate.

And let's think always about how to INCREASE that Democratic electorate.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Give me some RED MEAT, y'all!

As Kyle Veazey noted in his coverage of last night's Democratic County Mayoral debate, (sorry, behind a paywall) there was not much disagreement among the candidates, other than Rev. Kenneth Whalum calling, as he has throughout, that NO SCHOOLS should be closed in the city.  It got to a point where my co-blogger Jon and I figured that if we had taken a shot of whiskey every time he suggested this, our livers would have fallen out of our bodies before the first hour had ended.

I believe he is sincere, and I agree that we have to focus on the inner city in order to turn the city around, I just don't know how you fund that, since it will take a hell of a lot more than the $57 million that the courts say the city owes Shelby County Schools.  To be blunt, if a school is closing in a neighborhood, that is a real sign that the neighborhood is dead anyway, with anyone who could leave having done so.

Enough on that.  Even with all of that, all three of the candidates, including outgoing Commissioner Steve Mulroy and my favorite candidate, former Commission Chair Deidre Malone, would be a dramatic improvement over the incumbent, Mark Luttrell, who runs the County like it was a jail, something that I wish all three candidates would point out.

Y'all, PLEASE give us some red meat, will you??  All three of you need to beat up Mark Luttrell and point out his failures, because you are asking the electorate to reverse a decision they made four years ago, and that's not easy.  This means you A) have to point out why continuing his employment would be a costly mistake for Shelby Countians, and B) you then have to prove why YOU are the proper replacement.


Not physically, of course, that would be assault!   But ALL three of you need to attack him and attack him HARD and stop worrying about whether you are offending anyone.  If you are doing your jobs properly, SOMEONE will be offended, you just have to make sure it's the people who deserve to be offended!  I can't imagine that there are that many people who are voting in our primary that worry about Mark Luttrell's feelings.

Once this primary is over, you have to go HARD every day whacking the incumbent about the head and shoulders, and it's not like there's not a litany of reasons to do so: Title X, the anti-blight plan, Head Start, screwing over the city of Memphis, and on and on and on.

And when the Mayor shows up at Sidney Chism's picnic in June, whomever the winner is needs to be all up in Luttrell's grill about this stuff.  If you can't go after the REPUBLICAN County Mayor in Southwest Memphis, where the hell ARE you going to do it?  We need to be sure that any GOP candidate who shows up down there (and they ALL do) is confronted about their performance in office (or lack thereof).

Oh, and Early Voting starts downtown on April 16, and in the satellites on Friday, April 25.  Be ready, and go vote.


You can thank me later.

One last note:  Since my last post, this blog has not one, BUT TWO, writers that are now members of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee.  I replaced the legendary Steve Ross in House 90, and Jon Carroll is now representing House 93, along with our friend John Marek.  Thanks to all who voted for us to be there; we promise to raise hell, take names, and elect Democrats.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

I see what you did there, Commissioner Ford

Commissioner Justin Ford is in a tough re-nomination fight for his re-drawn County Commission seat.  During the redistricting, the parts of South Memphis surrounding the family funeral home at Florida and South Parkway were taken from him and given to Commissioner Walter Bailey.  Now, Ford's seat is primarily composed of Whitehaven and Westwood; while he is certainly known there, his strength is not as solid there as it was in South Memphis.

Add to that two fierce primary opponents in former MCS Board Commissioner Patrice Robinson and Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams, and the Commissioner faces the toughest campaign that he has had to face as a candidate.

All of that puts today's interesting development into context.

My phone blew up this morning with news that the Commissioner was planning to challenge Congressman Steve Cohen - as an INDEPENDENT.  This would have enabled him to avoid a primary; however, it would not have looked good if he were a sitting Democratic elected official who was undermining another Democratic nominee, regardless if it were the incumbent, Steve Cohen, or one of his challengers..

Then, it turns out that the petition was pulled but never filed, and by what Ford described as a "community group" that was not happy with the list of Democratic candidates for TN-09 and wanted him to run.  Ford was later quoted as saying that he may consider a Congressional run in two years.

UPDATE:  This is being edited to reflect new information, stop here and go read Jackson Baker, who, as always, has the full details.