Aug 10 2012

More on the Memphis Voter ID Challenge

Posted by Steve Ross in elections, State Politics
Aug 09 2012

Bridge Building

Posted by Steve Ross in activism, State Politics

Building Bridges
via Wikipedia Commons

There’s been a lot of talk about the whole Mark Clayton imbroglio. I’m not going to talk about that right now.

From my perspective that whole thing is a distraction.

Do I want him on the ticket? No.

Will I vote for him? No.

Were we ever going to beat Bob Corker? No.

End of discussion.

What’s more, talking about whatever is or isn’t going on at the TNDP right now is also a distraction.

The election of TNDP Chair is at least 5 months away. Let’s table any discussion about all of that until November 7th.

There will be plenty of time to sharpen pitchforks, light torches, and storm that castle after the election.

We need to focus on the here and now.

Not 6 months from now.

Not 2 years from now.

All of those things can and will get addressed after Nov. 6th.

Our fellow Democrats need us now. We need to step up to the plate and help them get elected.

Getting Focused

There are candidates that need help. 60 by my count that are running for state office in contested elections.

If you want to make sure we don’t have another Mark Clayton incident in two years, building bridges to build a bench is one way to do that.

There’s plenty to do in the 13 weeks between now and the election in November that CAN make a difference to the state. Shelby Co. lost 2 House and 1 Senate seat…all of which were solidly Democratic. If Democrats don’t want to be completely irrelevant, we’ll have to keep those and several other seats.

We don’t, however, have any competitive races in Shelby Co.

Col. Billingsly isn’t going to beat Jim Kyle.

Neither George Edwards nor Harry Barber (best name ever) have a chance at unseating Barbara Cooper or Larry Miller.

Dr. Flinn won’t be able to spend enough money to unseat Cohen.

So the question you have to ask yourself is where can you do the most good?

Making a Difference

The best way to make a difference in this state is to get behind candidates for State House and Senate outside of the urban areas. We’ve got all the seats we’re going to get in Nashville and Memphis, period.

We’ve got to fight to keep some of what we lost to redistricting.

We’ve got to work to help Democrats running for the first time be successful (chances are they’re low on resources and can use the help).

What’s more, one look at what happened to House GOP Chair Debra Maggart…$75,000 dropped in her race from outside groups and one of the most powerful members of the GOP Caucus…and the TN State House…lost.

The hard truth is that if groups are willing to drop a couple hundred grand on school board races, how much are they willing to drop on State House and Senate races?

A lot.

This makes keeping what we have hard. It means gaining ground is harder.

We don’t have a stable of money organizations to drop scads of independent expenditures to combat these folks. Why we don’t will be the subject of an upcoming post. (Consider yourself warned)

What we do have is people who are committed to making our state better. What we need is those people making a choice to make a difference. That means spending your time and money (if you have it) helping these folks win in November.

How you can help

Below is a list of contact information for every Democratic campaign for state office from the TNDP.

Pick one. Contact them. Commit to giving at least 20 hours of your time.

You don’t have to live there. You don’t necessarily have to travel. You can make phone calls from anywhere.

We may not be able to flood these campaigns with money, but we can flood them with volunteers.

Next week I’ll have some information about a couple of these candidates who are near Shelby Co. and work out from there. If you would like to have your race profiled, Contact me.

Aug 08 2012

The Hangover

Posted by Steve Ross in activism, elections, Puke

With the August 2012 elections behind us, and my campaign completed, I’m finding myself wondering what to do with all this spare time that, just a week ago, was completely consumed in the final preparations for election day.

Don't get caught up in the aftermath, get ready for your next move.

This is common for all kinds of people who put all of themselves into something. When I worked in theater we called it “the hangover”…for a couple of reasons, but it also applies to newlyweds, the newly retired, and pretty much anything that represents a major life change.

Its easy to get caught up in the “the hangover”. The joy, or relief of a milestone can fade very quickly. The disappointment of a loss can be easily amplified. Both can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless.

The key to getting over “the hangover” is figuring out what to do…making a decision on what’s next and committing to it.

For some folks it takes a long time to figure out what it is you will decide to commit to. For others, its easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re committing when you’re really just kicking the can down the street. But if you want to make a difference…if you believe you CAN make a difference no matter how big or small, you find a way to get back up on the horse and ride.

In the short term, for me anyway, I’m working to restore some normalcy to a life that has been dominated by a campaign for 8 months. This means getting ready for another semester at U of M, catching up on some things that fell through the cracks, and spending more time with my family.

I’m also going to follow through with my oversight and investigation of wrong ballots at the Shelby County Election Commission. Still a lot of work to be done on that front. (A big thank you to Memphis City Councilmen Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland as well as the whole Council for honoring me with a resolution yesterday for working to expose the problem.)

There are some other things I’m looking at as well. Things that can make a difference not only here in Shelby County, but around the state.

I’ll save that for a later post, but for now I challenge you, dear reader, to think about ways you can make a positive difference: for your neighborhood, City, County and State.

What can you contribute, through your time and talents, to make things better?

Change takes commitment. How far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to do to make our state a better place?

Think about that tonight. Tomorrow I’ll offer some suggestions of things you can actually do to show that commitment.

Aug 03 2012

Bullet Dodged? – Shelby Elections Edition #WrongBallot

Posted by Steve Ross in elections, Shelby County

The Return of the Dangling Chad?

This post isn’t about my race at all. It’s too soon for me to write anything remotely coherent about that right now, though I may write a series of very short posts later on. We’ll see.

This is about the results of the Primary election in Shelby County from yesterday and how the wrong ballot problem may or may not have impacted the outcome of race.

There was a concern that the error rate we were seeing out of House Districts with contested Primary elections would lead to contested results in determining the Democratic nominee. For instance, by the end of Early Voting, House District 90 was showing a 15% error rate over all (people voting in and out of district). That’s pretty substantial and could have completely thrown the election.

An election with a result falling inside this error margin would have likely resulted in a challenge. However, that wouldn’t have been decided in court, but rather by the State and Local Party structures. This is something no party wants to be faced with.

For those of you familiar with the Primary Election ouster of Rosalind Kurita, you know that this can be both an emotional and controversial issue. Her case was different….Democratic bona fides were the question. A challenge based on a bad election would have been even more difficult because the actions of a third party, in this case the Shelby County Election Commission, would have been at issue rather than the qualities or qualifications of candidates themselves.

Regardless, the local party structure would have been asked to make a choice and in the most hotly contested elections that choice would have been very difficult and divisive.

Its still too early to tell, and none of the election day participation has been analyzed, but at first glance it appears that both the Shelby County Election Commission and the local Party structures are off the hook on this issue. The margins of victory lead me to believe that even if a challenge is brought it will be denied by the party. This is just an initial impression.

While the Shelby County Election Commission may have dodged this bullet, and the additional black eye that would have come with it, there are still plenty of issues regarding this election that need to be investigated. It is my hope that the investigation by the State Comptrollers office is transparent, thorough, and speedy. Anything less would leave questions in the minds of the voters.

I’ll also be looking into much of this. I don’t want to overly bird-dog the Election Commission, but I also think its important the public fully understand what has happened and how to move forward and regain the faith and trust of the public.

Stay Tuned…