The AP's got the indisputable evidence:
Federal election disclosures show the Tennessee Democratic Party is struggling to raise money in the aftermath of a leadership struggle. The Federal Election Commission report filed on Friday shows the party under new Chairman Chip Forrester only managed to raise about $31,000 in February. That compares with about $211,000 raised in the same month of his predecessor Gray Sasser's stint in charge of the party.UPDATE: Braisted says it's time to step it up. Knoxrebel weighs in.
Mar 20, 2009 4:41 PM
Chip Forrester responds to a report citing anonymous sources saying that he had attempted to replace the party's Finance Chair after that chair had attempted to cut his pay in relation to his predecessor:
It would have been nice to have the courtesy of a chance to respond to all of this prior to publishing this piece but since I did not have that opportunity, let me take a moment to help clarify this situation. Since becoming chair, I have tried my best to be open and accessible about the Party and my actions at the Party. Since I was not give the courtesy of a phone call, let me address this specific situation. It is customary for the new Chair of the Party to appoint new members to the Standing Committees once elected. Will Cheek has served as Finance Committee chair for a number of years in addition to serving on the executive committee and as member of the Democratic National Committee. It has been my long held belief that leadership opportunities for members of the state executive committee should be spread among the committee. When elected Chair, I felt that naming a new Chair of that particular committee would allow me to offer an additional leadership opportunity to a member of the executive committee. Prior to making that decision, I reached out to Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard who serves on the state executive committee and was a previous Deputy Chair under Chairman Bob Tuke’s administration, to discuss the idea of him chairing that committee. I felt that it was important to continue to elevate African-American leaders to key positions on the executive committee and since Jerry was already a member of Finance Committee that he would be an excellent chair. Unfortunately, I had been given an outdated set of TNDP by-laws, which prior to 2006 gave the chair this authority. In 2006 they had been amended to have the Finance Committee chair serve until January of the next year. The thought behind the 2006 by-law amendment was that the new chair would benefit from the financial continuity of the current Finance Committee chair. As chair of the Finance Committee in 2007, Will Cheek had negotiated Gray Sasser’s contract and salary and he and I entered into similar negotiations as he had done under the previous chair. In his fiduciary role as Finance Committee chair, it is his duty to husband the Party’s financial resources. After discussions over the past week or so, he and I have agreed on a recommendation to the Finance Committee of a compensation package that has an annual salary of $95,000. This will be brought to the full Finance Committee in the near future and he and I are confident that the committee will unanimously accept this recommendation. I hope this clarifies the specifics of this issue.
Feb 13, 2009 10:37 AM
Jeff Woods asserts that there is controversy afoot concerning Chip Forrester's salary as chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party:
He wants to depose Cheek as head of the party's finance committee. Cheek voted for Charles Robert Bone for party chairman. Cheek's would-be replacement? Jerry Maynard, who voted for Forrester for chairman. (This is all according to Pith's stable of smug anonymous Democratic insiders, so we know it's true.) Forrester's predecessor as chairman, Gray Sasser, made $115,000 a year. Cheek is trying to cut Forrester's pay to $75,000. Cheek thinks Forrester doesn't deserve $115,000 because the party expects to raise only about $500,000 this year--and that's if Democrats are lucky. That's about half as much as the party raised and spent each year under Sasser. We're told Forrester tried to oust Cheek but couldn't because Cheek's term doesn't end for another year. Forrester apparently didn't know that. Now he does.First of all, I don't know where these people are getting their figures. This meme that Sasser made in the $120,000 range has been going around (especially in the comments on this site) but the only reports I find regarding his pay are much less than that ($87,504 a year). Second, with all the problems Forrester has already are we really expected to believe he is gonna have his first beef be about his pay. He doesn't have any staff. As far as anyone can tell, the Democratic party is being run by Chip and several volunteer veterans of the Obama campaign and the English Only effort. They don't seem to be living high on the hog and I sincerely doubt these volunteers would be all about Chip if they thought he was trying to fatten his pockets. Also, why would it be all that controversial for Forrester to start out at what Sasser made? That is the job he is taking after all, yes? I mean if the job is seen as one that is dependent on money raised are these folks proposing the chairman be put on some sort of commission based salary? UPDATE: In the comments, both Braisted and Vibinc explain that the $87,504 figure is a net one rather than a gross one which would make the $115,000 number just about right.
Feb 13, 2009 7:12 AM
Former Treasurer of the Tennessee Democratic Party and a candidate for chairman of the organization has fired back a response to a letter signed by many of Tennessee's top Democratic officeholders in support of his opponent Charles Robert Bone:
Our state Party was led this year by the very people who have now signed the endorsement letter for Charles Robert Bone. They set the strategy for this year’s campaign in Tennessee. Our state Party did not suffer from a lack of funding, I know because as Treasurer I signed the checks. What our Party suffered from this year was a lack of a grassroots organization that involved everyone that believes in and supports the values of the Democratic Party. You cannot build a viable political party from the top down, no more than you can improve the economic well being of our country with “trickle down” economics as failed Republican administration policies, tragically for our country’s working men and women, have so vividly shown us these past 8 years. And while I respect everyone who signed the endorsement letter, if these elections have taught us anything, they should have shown us that the “top down” approach does not work any longer in Tennessee.Read the full letter. SEE ALSO: Andy Sher Ben Vos
Dec 27, 2008 12:18 PM
With Gray Sasser today making clear he will in fact depart the Tennessee Democratic Party, the race for Chair can now officially begun. Chip Forrester, the current party Treasurer has put his name out there and Ken Whitehouse has reported that former Obama state political director Jerry Martin as well as attorney Charles Robert Bone are also feeling the race out. Post Politics has been hearing another name people have been tossing about in regards to this race and that is newly elected state Representative Mike Stewart. Stewart, a Waller attorney, recently ran a successful and well-funded race against a fellow progressive for the state House seat of the retiring Rob Briley. Word is that folks have been encouraging Stewart to make a run for party chair and Stewart doesn't deny, via email, there has been some interest. "I have been approached to run by people who know about my longtime interest in grassroots campaigns. I have not said no, but I am focused on serving as a Representative for District 52 and being a loyal member of the House Democratic Caucus," stated Stewart. While this a far cry from throwing his hat in, if he were to say yes, he does not believe that serving simultaneously as a legislator and party chair would be an insurmountable obstacle, as some, citing recently passed ethics laws, have suggested. "Rep. Harwell served as Republican Chair, so it is doable. However, it only works if Party leaders, and in particular the House Leadership, decide that it makes sense," Stewart explained.
Nov 12, 2008 10:29 AM
Ilissa Gold reported last night of a personnel massacre at the the state Democratic Party. While it true that Communications Director Wade Munday's "last day" is December 1 and that the field director and most of the field staff will no longer be in the employ of the party, the situation is not quite that simple. The news came down in the last week that all "State Partnership" position funding is coming to an end. These positions are currently funded by the DNC (not the TNDP) as part of Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. Dean is stepping down as Chair of the Democratic National Committee so whether this funding continues to flow to the state party will ultimately be determined by the new chair of the National party. It could be temporary, it could be permanent. Either way, in January, a new chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party will also be chosen. Presumably, at that point, the new TNDP chairman will have some idea of where his funding will be coming from and whether his payroll will be benefiting from a continuation of of the Dean policy or not. At that point he will hire up and replenish the staff. The TNDP will not go without a communications director for more than a month and the "newly hired" communications director could just as easily be Wade Munday himself as it could be whomever the new Chair decides. Yes, Chairman Sasser and Executive Director Hayden will have their jobs past the date that Munday's DNC funding faucet shuts down but it isn't for long. As stated previously, a new chair will be elected in January and will choose staff to serve at his pleasure. So while people are losing their jobs at the TNDP most of the positions are directly related to the Tennessee Victory '08 effort which has obviously come to a close. The others, such as Munday, have been subsidized by the DNC for the past two years with money that is no longer forthcoming from the national party for the time being. This shedding of staff is essentially just the natural order of the campaign cycle and a symptom of the unique funding mechanisms the party has used to staff its positions -- and not much more. SEE ALSO: Braisted Grantham Is Talking Newscoma Aunt B. R. Neal Silence (Part II)
Nov 11, 2008 8:42 AM
Sean Braisted asserts that State Senator Rosalind Kurita finally showed her true colors as a "Republican" when she contributed a sizable sum to the Tennessee Republican's Legislative Campaign Committee. Now, let's get this straight. Rosalind Kurita is a pro-choice nanny-statist. Always has been, always will be. If she wanted to be a crypto-Republican, she would have ran straight-up as an Independent in her relection bid instead of running as a Democrat, the only way she could could lose. What exactly would you have her do? Contribute money to the party that ousted her? Please. While we all like to talk about political parties as though they are about principles and ideas, in the end, parties are just a means to an end. That end, of course, being political power. Parties are not think tanks. They are not universities. They are entities created to achieve electoral victories Republicans out of pure political opportunism are helping her as best they can. She is returning the favor. It's just politics, pure and simple. Kurita needs to get elected. Democrats won't help. Republicans will. But Kurita is Kurita. I haven't seen her change a ideological or policy position to suit her new political friends. You can call her a "Republican" if that makes you feel better, but if you believe that she is any less a champion of the progressive ideals that many would call "Democratic", you are fooling yourself. She may have drew first blood by expressing her disgust with the good ole boy Dixiecrat Democratic leadership in the Senate by voting for Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey, but it didn't have to end this way. The Democratic Party pushed her away just as much more than she pulled away from it.
Nov 2, 2008 11:27 PM
From a press release:
Senator Rosalind Kurita (D-Clarksville) received a major endorsement from the Tennessee State Employees Association (TSEA) in her write-in campaign for the State Senate. "From those state employees who provide disaster relief, to those who work with children in foster care, and from those who protect our highways to those who care for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, our state is fortunate to have so many dedicated state workers," said Sen. Kurita. "I am honored to receive this endorsement and appreciate their support." The Tennessee State Employees Association represents hundreds of state employees in the 22nd Senatorial District, which includes Montgomery, Cheatham and Houston counties.SEE ALSO: The National Rifle Association The Clarksville-Montgomery County Voters Council
Oct 16, 2008 11:00 AM
Ken Whitehouse reports on the federal hearing in the case of Rosalind Kurita versus a whole bunch of folks:
The case was heard today by Judge Robert Echols, who said he would not make a decision until next week. After the long and tedious hearing adjourned, Kurita said that she felt today's actions resulted in a "fair hearing," but that "No matter what, I don't think this will be the end." She added, "My counsel (Bopp) did a wonderful job in working for the will of the people." Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Gray Sasser said that Kurita's counsel presented "tenuous legal arguments."SEE ALSO: Erik Schelzig Jeff Woods Daniel Potter
Oct 10, 2008 3:09 PM
Senator Rosalind Kurita's attorneys answered yesterday various motions by defendants Tim Barnes, the Tennessee Democratic Party, and several state officials urging the United States District Court for Middle Tennessee to dismiss or abstain from judgment in the Fourteenth Amendment case brought to it by Kurita. Senator Kurita, the certified victor in the 22nd District State Senate Democratic Primary, on Sept. 13th saw her election declared "incurably uncertain" by the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee acting as the State Primary board. A tri-county convention of executive committee members in the three counties of her district then voted 61-4 to install her opponent, Tim Barnes, as the Democratic nominee. Kurita is currently running as a write-in candidate. Most political observers believe that the moves against Kurita by Democratic Party officials was payback for her 2007 vote for Republican Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey. Kurita has charged the party with violating her Fourteenth Amendment rights in removing her name from the ballot as the Democratic nominee for the 22nd State Senate District. At issue in the case is T.C.A. § 2-17-104 which designates a political party's executive committee as the "decider" in the case of a contested primary election. Barnes and other defendants contend that this law was properly applied in the contested election and that the court has no reason to intervene in the matter. Senator Kurita, in filings by her attorney James Bopp, contends that "T.C.A. § 2-17-104 does not contain any standards or procedures that must be followed by a state primary board in resolving a primary election dispute." Kurita's lawyers make the case that it is thus irrelevant whether due process is afforded in a particular case or not. They argue that T.C.A. § 2-17-104 is unconstitutional because it "empowers the state primary boards to adjudicate protected rights without due process of law." In making this argument, however, they do not concede that due process was followed in this case. Kurita's lawyers' full answer to the motions filed by Barnes et al is linked here. Defendants' motions are available below. A trial on the merits remains scheduled for October 10, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. Today. SEE ALSO: TNDP's motion to dismiss or abstain Tim Barnes motion to dismiss State defendants motion to dismiss or abstain
Oct 10, 2008 8:08 AM