TN Democrats raised $300K at Jackson Day dinner

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

Nashville, Tenn. (May 22, 2017) – On Friday, May 19, 800 Tennessee Democrats from across the state gathered in Nashville to celebrate the annual Three Star Jackson Day Dinner. Attendees heard from elected leaders and candidates, paid tribute to President Barack Obama and looked to the future.

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Jackson Day crowd (800) urged to turn ‘outrage’ over Trump into 2018 TN Democratic wins

A crowd estimated at 800 turned out for the Tennessee Democratic Party’s annual Jackson Day dinner Friday night and heard speeches that included criticism of President Donald Trump and optimism about the improved prospects for the party in the 2018 elections, reports The Tennessean.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was keynote speaker with others the group including former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who has announced as a candidate for governor, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who had expressed interest in running for governor as well.

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Democrat Mackler’s introductory U.S. Senate campaign video

Posted on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler’s campaign website, the video is mostly promotional bio stuff – he’s a veteran, has a family, loves Tennessee, etc. – but also bashes Donald Trump and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Corker,  “another millionaire politician looking to move up.”


Some DC Democrats criticize Green; some TN Democrats join in praising him

In Washington, 31 Democratic U.S. House members have called for the rejection of Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green as U.S. Army Secretary. But in Nashville, all five Democratic members of the state Senate joined their Republican colleagues in voting for a resolution praising the Clarksville Republican.

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Republican Governors Association bashes Dean; Dean bashes RGA

The Republican Governors Association, apparently concerned that Democrat Karl Dean might actually have a chance of winning the 2018 gubernatorial election, has already begun attacking the former Nashville mayor for supporting a property tax increase. Dean says it’s a case of “Washington politics trying to interfere in Tennessee.”

Gov. Bill Haslam is a past chairman of the RGA, which has election of Republicans as state chief executives as its primary mission. Haslam, who cannot seek reelection next year, still sits on the RGA’s executive committee.

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TN Democrats oust old, bring in new at county level

News release from Tennessee Democratic Party

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Tennesseans gathered and reorganized 84 of 92 eligible county parties, and elected 52 new county party chairs. The change in leadership in more than half of the counties reflects a more energized group of Tennessee Democrats who are ready to stand up in their communities.

Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Mary Mancini said, “We have seen a huge amount of new energy and interest in the Democratic Party since election day. People from all parts of Tennessee are becoming more active citizens, holding elected officials accountable and joining their county parties.”

Seven of the new chairs were candidates for the state legislature last year. Khristy Wilkinson, who ran for State Senate in Chattanooga, is now the Hamilton County chair. 2016 State Representative candidates Holly McCall (Williamson), Sharon Kay Edward (Bedford), Marjorie Ramsey (Cocke), Daniel Powell (Henry), Amos Powers (Putnam), and Deborah Reed (Tipton) were all elected chair of their respective county.

“The tenacity shown by these former candidates represents their resolve and commitment to continue fighting for Democratic values. They see the Republican supermajority is focused on divisive issues that do not address the everyday needs of Tennesseans. Electing more Democrats starts with growing our county parties and effective and energetic leaders are essential to that effort,” Mancini added.

All told, over 2,000 people participated in the county party reorganizations. It appears that many of the people who showed up in post-election protests and marches are now getting involved formally in the local democratic process. Currently, Tennessee ranks near the bottom in voter participation.

Mancini said, “Increasing voter turnout should be a bipartisan goal. Everyone has a stake in these elections. Many people who thought both parties were the same or that elections didn’t matter realized this year just how large the consequences of elections are. Those people are not only now participating, but they are leading.”

Nashville lawyer/Iraq combat veteran seeks Democratic U.S. Senate nomination

News release from James Mackler campaign

NASHVILLE – James Mackler, decorated Iraq combat veteran that served in the 101st Airborne Division, today announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. James will seek the Democratic nomination to run against two-term incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).

“I am running to restore respect, honesty, and, most importantly, integrity in Washington,” said James. “Our country has become so divided that our leaders refuse to work together to solve our most important problems. As a veteran, I know first-hand the strength of teamwork, cooperation, and the benefits of diversity to accomplish even the most difficult mission.

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Democrats denounce scuttling of prison oversight bill; Republicans denounce Democrats

The Sunday assault on guards at the state’s Turney Center shows the need for legislative oversight of the prison system, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart declared at a news conference Monday.

Bills to re-establish a Corrections Oversight Committee, abolished in 2011, have all died quietly this session. One with Republican sponsors (SB1145) was sent to “general sub” in the Senate Health Committee Monday, dead for the year since the panel is now closed. That measure would also have recreated an abolished oversight committees on TennCare and childrens’ services.

Stewart called the failure to re-establish a corrections oversight panel “totally ridiculous,” reports The Tennessean.

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Democrats urge Insure TN be reconsidered; Haslam says not now

With the Republican plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare dead in Washington for now, at least four states that previously rejected Medicaid expansion – Kansas, Maine, North Carolina and Virginia – have moves afoot to reconsider the idea.

Tennessee Democrats would like to see the Volunteer State become the fifth, reports WPLN, but Gov. Bill Haslam says it’s too early. In 2015, Haslam proposed a Medicaid expansion plan, dubbed Insure Tennessee, that was killed by the Legislature.

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he is not currently considering another legislative special session to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

“The sooner the better, so we can begin collecting and allowing up to 300- or 400-hundred thousand people to be covered under Medicaid,” says House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

Fitzhugh proposes repealing a state law that requires the legislature to sign off on Medicaid expansion. That would free up Governor Bill Haslam to negotiate a plan with the Trump administration. (Note: It’s HB846, on notice for the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee next week.)

Haslam says he’s instructed TennCare officials to review their options. But it’s too soon to come up with a plan.

“I think it’s early. I mean, we literally just had, Friday, the country took a change of direction no one was expecting,” he says.

Haslam adds it’s probably too late in the legislative session to propose an expansion plan this year. Lawmakers are likely to adjourn around the end of April, and the administration has focused on passing the state budget and a road-funding plan.

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Former TNDP executive director loses lawyer license

Kevin Teets, a former executive director of the Tennessee Democratic Party who also served as manager of some Middle Tennessee Democratic campaigns, has temporarily lost his license to practice law under a state Supreme Court order issued Friday, according to a news release from the Board of Professional Responsibility.

Other documents show Teets allegedly took more than $8,000 from a nonprofit organization created to help the homeless and instead used the money to “fund his gambling addiction,” reports The Tennessean.

A complaint filed with the board, which oversees attorney conduct in Tennessee, states Jessica Thurmond, the head of the Lace Up With Love organization, had hired Teets to help her form the nonprofit. But within a few months, Thurmond suspected Teets was taking the money from the organization and using it to gamble.

…Emails purportedly from Teets included in the board’s investigation show Teets referencing using his “personal funds in an asinine manner in Evansville” to explain why a check he tried to write to the nonprofit bounced. Evansville, Ind., has some of the closest casinos to Nashville.

Teets has repaid $6,500, according to the affidavit…. The board says the suspension remains in effect until the Supreme Court takes further action.




Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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