I'll just let her tell you: The Tennessee Democratic Party voided State Senator Rosalind Kurita's state-certified 19 vote election victory in a Sept. 13th meeting of the executive committee. She filed an official write candidate two days later. On September 18th, a tri-county convention of Democratic executive committee members in Montgomery, Cheatham and Houston Counties voted 61-4 to install her opponent Tim Barnes as the nominee. These ads started running Monday on cable television throughout the 22nd state Senate district. SEE ALSO: A slightly different variation on the ad. MORE ON CONTROVERSY KURITA: The Show Trial Of Rosalind Kurita Write-in Ros? Write-in Ros: It’s On, Son Reports And Reaction To The Nomination Of Tim Barnes Did Barnes Run Out The Clock On Ros? GOP Committee Chairs To Host Fundraiser For Kurita Kurita’s Election Stolen By “Union Thugs” Barnes Campaign Treasurer Voted In Four GOP Primaries Before August 7th
Oct 9, 2008 11:44 AM
Gray Sasser simply will not quit striking back at Rosalind Kurita for showing the temerity to challenge the political maneuverings by Tennessee Democrats which overturned a certified election:
“In fact, the only backroom deal in this long, sordid saga was cut long before the Aug. 7 primary, when Sen. Kurita went back on her word to her Democratic colleagues and supported Republican Ron Ramsey for Senate speaker and lieutenant governor,” Sasser said. “Unfortunately, this process has become marked by accusations and, frankly, falsehoods. Sen. Kurita had the opportunity to present her case at an open meeting of the state executive committee, and according to rules that both sides agreed to before the proceedings.”
Oct 7, 2008 6:54 AM
From the desk of Robin Smith:
"The Tennessee Democrat Party formally endorsed the proposed state income tax while the Tennessee Republican Party's state executive committee adopted a resolution against the state income tax," said Robin Smith, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. "Except for a courageous few among them, Democrat legislators were the majority force pushing for imposition of the unpopular tax, while most Republican lawmakers and leaders fought against it." "The Democrats' latest desperate lies are meant to divert attention from their having stolen a certified election victory from state Sen. Rosalind Kurita, an opponent of the income tax, this time by falsely smearing her as a supporter of the income tax," Smith said. "From the Obama campaign on down, Democrats this year have adopted a tactic of trying to distract from real issues with smears and diversions," said Bill Hobbs, communications director for the Tennessee Republican Party.
Oct 1, 2008 5:44 PM
Ilissa Gold doesn't understand why the Tennessee Democratic Party is bothering to attack a candidate whose name isn't even on the ballot:
The primary has been overturned, fairly or not. Now her only hope of winning is to win as a write-in candidate. Do you think that everyone who votes in her district will remember on November 4 a) that they can write her name in and b) how to spell her name correctly if they do? I'd be willing to bet even a majority of Republicans up in Clarksville won't remember that. This election is in the bag now, the TNDP now just has to hope that they take back the Senate so that Tim Barnes can actually be seated. What was the point of throwing more fuel on this fire? To me, this just looks completely gratuitous. Cheap shots might make you feel all tough, but are generally not a good way to win an electionSEE ALSO: Braisted
Oct 1, 2008 5:42 PM
The Tennessee Democratic Party has sunk to a new low this afternoon. After apparently just discovering that tonight's Rosalind Kurita fundraiser featuring Republican luminaries from the state Senate was being held at Justin Wilson's Cherokee Equity Corporation, the party released this statement.
NASHVILLE – Rosalind Kurita has shown her true political stripes by putting her career ahead of her principles. Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Gray Sasser released the following statement in response to a fundraiser for Kurita tonight at the Cherokee Equity Corporation. Cherokee Equity Corporation board member Justin Wilson, in his capacity as Deputy Governor to Republican Govenor Don Sundquist, was one of the architects behind Sundquist's disastrous state income tax plans. "Rosalind will say or do anything to help her floundering campaign. Kurita now sides with the income tax proponents of the Tennessee Republican Party for her personal career advancement and for no other reason. Today, we find that she has cast her lot with Don Sundquist and the income tax wing of the Tennessee GOP. She is so desperate to fund her campaign that she will cozy up to any special interestPlease. Like the architects of Tennessee's state income tax were all Republicans, right? In fact, one of the big ones, if I remember correctly, was former State Senator Bob Rochelle, who happens to be the lawyer that defended Kurita at that tribunal where the Democratic Party overturned her certified election. Why not include that in the release? It would certainly bolster the argument-by-association that the Democratic Party is making here, would it not? Is it that Bob Rochelle is too big to mess with? Too much in the good graces of "the club" so to speak, whereas Kurita has been suitably separated from the herd so much that she deserves no courtesy for years of service as a Democrat, is that it? Followers of Tennessee politics know that Kurita had nothing to do with the income tax. She voted against it. That opposition, and her love of the guns, are about the only "Republican" things about her. Which is why this all out assault on a lifetime Democrat is so preposterous. Rosalind Kurita is a progressive populist. She is a nanny statist. She views government as a force for good. The woman is securely within the Democratic ideological spectrum. Yes, she voted against a Democratic Speaker. So what? Everybody and their momma knew that Wilder was past his expiration date. Everyone. Nobody, however, was man enough to pull the trigger. Why? Because, under Wilder, Democrats had power. The only way keep that power was to nominate Wilder, who was capable of peeling off then-Republican Mike Williams for that magic 17. Democrats love to paint Kurita's vote against Wilder as a craven power play. Was the power she would gain for her issues and her district by voting for Ramsey an attraction for her? I'm sure they were. No politician walks around trying to get themselves marginalized and she had sat on the Democratic bench quite a few years getting ignored. But accusing her of a power grab is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. John Wilder, essentially a Dixiecrat who stayed in power by ceding a good portion to Republicans, needed to go. The Democratic Party could keep stumbling along in the Senate on the back of, a legend no doubt, but a doddering old man. Or, it could cut loose of the Dixiecrat, let the Republicans have control for a time, and grow a new Democratic Party based, not on power or the good ole boy network, but on progressive ideals. Kurita saw the opening to drive a stake into the heart of the old Tennessee Democratic Party and she took it. Her vote for Ramsey was a conservative vote, but it was cast for reasons both personal and progressive. Deep down many Democrats know that Rosalind Kurita is not the crypto-Republican they have painted her to be. They understand why she did what she did, whether they agree with it or not. If Democrats and Kurita had gotten together and agreed to let the past be the past and work towards the future of a new Democratic Party, all of this would have been unnecessary. Rosalind Kurita, after all, is a populist, pro-choice on abortion, good government Democrat. She obviously is a bold woman, she wasn't going to stay put as Ramsey's pet Democrat for very long. But because she stood up, after years as a good foot soldier, and attempted to grab a little something for her agenda and in the process free the party of the Old Ways, Senator Jim Kyle got mad and he just couldn't just let it go. When overtures were made to smooth things over, Kyle, time and time again, chopped up the waters. It is my belief, and only my belief, that Rosalind Kurita would have voted for just about any Democrat for Speaker except Jim Kyle next year had she been elected as a Democrat. Joe Haynes, Lowe Finney, anyone -- she would have voted for them. That is purely my speculative belief but I do not believe it is an unreasonable one. So, when people call Kurita selfish, it always hits me as curious. Did she vote against Wilder for totally selfless reasons? No, of course not. But this Jim Kyle-driven assault on Kurita stems from one fact and one fact only. Jim Kyle wants to be speaker. Democrats could have gotten a Democratic speaker (assuming the other numbers were there) with Rosalind Kurita, that much is clear to most political observers, it just wouldn't have been Jim Kyle. So, even if one grants that what Kurta did in 2007 stemmed from personal ambition, one must also grant that the political destruction of Rosalind Kurita was motivated by ambition as well -- Jim Kyle's ambition. Of course, this is all a moot point now. What's done is done. The Democrats threw away a perfectly good Democrat, a Democrat who had the strength to do what was necessary to "refresh that tree of liberty" and give the party room to grow. Now, Kurita has been driven out, into the arms of the Republicans, a party with which she has little ideologically in common with. If she somehow manages to win now, with Republican money, managers and a bad taste her mouth for the Democratic Party, there is no chance in hell of her voting for a Democratic Speaker. The thing is, it didn't have to be this way. There are Democrats who know this. Not all of them, but many do. Yet they continue even after the deed is done, even after Rosalind Kurita has been stripped of her election, to pile on. The game is the game, for sure, but this woman was a Democrat until they threw her out. She could have run as an independent, or even a Republican, and won easily. But she didn't, she entered the Democratic Party primary. Just about the only place she could possibly lose this election. I think some grassroots Democrats currently following the cues of their leadership need to ask themselves why she did that. Rosalind Kurita is not even on the ballot. I ask you, if the Tennessee Democratic Party can't beat a woman who isn't even on the ballot straight up without resorting to painting her an income tax supporter because of the owner of the venue of her fundraiser, what good is the Tennessee Democratic Party? The Democrats have taken Rosalind Kurita's party and her ballot position away from her. Is enough, not enough at this point?
Oct 1, 2008 2:42 PM
UPDATE: Senator Bill Frist will not be appearing at this event. Gray Sasser will participate in a panel discussion with Carol Swain, Bill Ivey and Beth Harwell at noon on Sunday. WPLN's Jacqueline Fellows will serve as co-moderator and the broadcast will be made available to BBC World Wide stations. Post Politics apologizes for the misinformation. In yet another fun little warm-up to Tuesday's Presidential Debate at Belmont University, two players in Tennessee politics will debate each other at the Frist Center this Sunday. However, unlike Jim Cooper and Bill Haslam, the two participants in this war of words have a history. Gray Sasser was only 25 in 1994 when Senator Bill Frist riding a populist conservative rage of discontent unseat his Democratic Senate Leader-in-waiting father, Jim, in the race for U.S. Senate race that year. This Sunday morning, Post Politics has learned, Gray Sasser, now the chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, will finally get his change at revenge by coming into Bill Frist's "house" to debate the prospective candidate for Governor on domestic policy. The debate will be be broadcast locally on WPLN but will also beam out over the globe on BBC's worldwide radio network. Be ready for fireworks.
Sep 30, 2008 11:38 AM
Post Politics has been informed that a happy addition was made to the Democratic Party family this afternoon. A certain Martha Gray Sasser was born to proud parents, Kathyrn Hays Sasser and Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Gray Sasser at 3:14 p.m today. She weighed in at 9 lbs, 3 oz.
Sep 16, 2008 4:53 PM
"I won that election and they stole it."
~ Rosalind KuritaAfter a full eight-hour work day of examination of evidence in the contested state Senate election in District 22, the Democratic Executive Committee today played Pontius Pilate and threw the fate of the Senator Rosalind Kurita to a joint convention of the three county executive committees which make up the district seat she has held for 12 years. While in theory all is not lost for Kurita, the fact of the matter is that while some members of the state executive committee may be able to sleep better at night because they did not technically unseat the renegade Democratic Senator, the consequences of their actions amount to just that. Because, in order to throw the decision to the "lower courts", they had to first throw out the election of August 7th. Simply put, the Democratic Executive Committee invalided a democratically held election today. No, they did not straight up hand victory to the loser of government-executed election but in order to punt they had to first declare the results "incurably uncertain." A clear sign to local party officials, already predisposed to do so, to put an end the state Senate tenure of Rosalind Kurita. This, of course, comes just three years after many Democrats were crying out for the peoples' voice to be heard in the case of Ophelia Ford. In that case Democrats wanted, well, democracy. Now, due to the actions of the Tennessee Democratic Party, a small group of county party officials will decide who the state senator in District 22 will be. While the hearing this afternoon was purportedly to decide whether the election in District 22 was fairly decided, it was, of course, about something else entirely. In 1995, in Los Angeles, California what was supposed to be a murder trial became instead an indictment of the justice system and race in America. O.J. Simpson's trial, ostensibly, was to determine his guilt or innocence in the homicide of his wife and her lover. Instead, the American justice system was put on trial giving those black jurors the chance to exact a measure of revenge on a country they believed had wronged them and their people for generations. This afternoon's show trial at the Sheraton was, in many ways, a modern update on the "Trial of the Century." What was designed to be an investigation into the validity of an election instead became an indictment of Tennessee's open primary system and a referendum on the Democratic Party bonafides of Rosalind Kurita. The evidence presented, most of which can be seen here was, by any objective criteria, thin. Barnes team's case relied heavily on statistics about reliable Republican primary voters choosing to make this election one of their first forays into the Democratic primary process. But as was pointed out by Kurita's able legal team led by former state Senator Bob Rochelle, the time to contest the Democratic cred of primary voters was at the polling place where Tennessee law allows poll watchers to contest a voters' allegiances. Other than that, our Tennessee code provides no remedy for the challenging of crossover voting, a traditional, time-honored Tennessee practice. But the evidence, just like in case of Orenthal James Simpson, was not what the trial was about. While Chairman Gray Sasser was resolute in cutting off the Barnes team from mentioning Kurita's 2007 vote for Republican Speaker Ron Ramsey, it was clear that the subtext of day need not be spoken to be heard. Just like Carlo had to answer for Santino, Rosalind Kurita had to answer for John Wilder. Today was her reckoning. While non-voting ex-officio member of the committee, State Senator and Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Haynes, attending an E-911 convention in Gatlinburg, had an excuse for his absence from the proceedings the fact was he was not there. Neither were any of Kurita's Democratic colleagues in the Senate or her fellow Democratic legislators in the House at the Sheraton to show their support for a Democratic incumbent. In fact, the only representatives from the Democratic Caucus that Post Politics spotted in the room were two members of the staff of Kurita's arch-nemesis, Senator Jim Kyle. While not saying so directly, when asked whether she thought the decision was made based on the evidence or out of anger over her vote for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Kurita asserted that the proceedings pretty much spoke for themselves. "I think you were there and you can judge for yourself," Kurita stated matter-of-factly to reporters after the decision. Kurita was not making any firm predictions but, based on the "makeup" of the various county committees, she did not relay any optimism to the assembled reporter scrum that the county committees would vote to affirm her election. Perhaps as foreshadowing, one of the executive committee members representing areas in Kurita's district did not show up to this afternoon's meeting. Another abstained. "I don't think that that's a probability," Kurita said speaking of the likelihood that the joint county convention would vote to affirm her election. "I think that was made very clear. Most of you reporters have seen me in the Senate. You know how hard I work. I take the job very seriously but at some point you just have to say maybe this just wasn't meant to be. I did everything I knew how to do. I worked hard to serve my constituents the best I could and if they don't want we, then, they don't want me." "The reality is they don't want me on the team, y'all," a resigned-to-defeat Kurita reiterated. "I'm very proud of my service in the Senate and I'll miss it." A composed, steely-eyed Rosalind Kurita expressed no regrets for political actions past in the immediate aftermath of the decision and contacted later was optimistic about the future noting that she was set to be a grandmother soon and that she would find "some other way to serve others." When asked by Post Politics if she still considers herself a Democrat after the events of the afternoon, Senator Kurita paused and said simply, "I just don't know how to answer that right now." SEE ALSO: Erik Schelzig Theo Emery (II) Sean Braisted
Sep 13, 2008 11:31 PM
While everyone expected superdelegates Phil Bredesen and Gray Sasser to endorse Barack Obama this morning, the addition of one U.S. Senate candidate to the Obama column comes as a welcome, and demographically advantageous, surprise:
U.S. Senate candidate Mike Padgett joined Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Gray Sasser Wednesday morning in endorsing Senator Barack Obama for president. At a unity breakfast at Swett’s Restaurant, Padgett called on his fellow Democrats to unite, saying they must end Republican occupation of the White House. “I am proud of the campaign Senator Hillary Clinton ran and am honored that Governor Ned McWherter called and asked me to serve on her state steering committee,” Padgett said. “I will look forward to serving with her in the U.S. Senate. “Just as we were able to deliver Knox County for Senator Clinton in February, I look forward to helping do the same for Senator Barack Obama this fall and to campaigning with him across the state as we put Tennessee back in the blue column. “In this history-making election, Senator Obama brings an energetic vision and a wealth of character to the table. I am proud to endorse his candidacy. “With such strong candidates in the presidential primaries, Democrats have captured the imagination of Americans. Our message: Don’t give up hope. The middle class can survive the injuries inflicted on it during eight years of a Republican White House. “And we have served notice on President Bush, Senator McCain and Senator Alexander: The party is over. The tax breaks for the wealthiest must stop, and the budget has got to be balanced. Subsidies for the oil industry – while Americans pay over $4 a gallon for gas – have got to end. “Our troops – our heroes – need to come home from Iraq, and we must spend our resources on rebuilding infrastructure here, not in Baghdad. “Tennesseans are demanding change, and if they will stand with me and Senator Obama, we will deliver.”Barack Obama has, throughout the primary, had a bit of a problem getting votes from the clannish Scots-Irish who make up Appalachian hillfolk. Mike Padgett has been outspoken in his love for this region and his identity as a Southern Appalachian Conservative Democrat. This endorsement should serve to put the nation on notice that Democrats will not cede the votes of these people to John McCain. Padgett's chief opponent in his race, attorney Bob Tuke, has already endorsed Obama serving as his political director in Tennessee before announcing his Senate run.
Jun 4, 2008 8:36 AM
The communications shop of the Tennessee Republican Party responds to the controversy that has erupted over its release of a web video castigating Michelle Obama on the day of her visit to Nashville and attempts to begin a constructive dialogue with its counterpart at the Democratic Party:
The web video showed a series of Nashvillians talking about various reasons why they are proud of America. The video did not "attack" or demean Mrs. Obama, it merely contrasted her remarks with the remarks of several average Tennesseans. The response from the Left: many angry, often foul-mouthed emails, phone calls and web comments declaring the video racist and worse. The Tennesseee Democrat Party called the video "deplorable" and "grotesque." We're guessing they're hoping most people won't have seen it and realize that it was just a light-hearted jab. What is truly deplorable is that Democrats and Obama supporters are hoping to shield Obama and his campaign and its surrogates from almost any criticism, disagreement or dissent by tagging such things as a "distraction," as "partisanship, and as "racism and "bigotry." "Rather than labeling every criticism of Barack Obama as 'racist,' and rather than whining about tough talk from their opponents, the Tennessee Democrat Party might want to ask Mrs. Obama to tone down her language," said Robin Smith, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. "They also might want to encourage other their party elites to stop accusing fellow Democrats of racism because they didn't vote for Obama, as became common after Obama's crushing defeat in the West Virginia primary."SEE ALSO: Bill Hobbs cites an online poll backing up the TNGOP's broadside against Michelle Obama.
May 16, 2008 4:43 PM