Sep 11 2013

Shameful…and the response is just weird

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics, TNDP

On a day reserved for the remembrance of first responders and victims of the 9/11 attacks, many of whom also lost their life…

A day where American servicemen and women are thanked for their service in two wars that followed those attacks…

The man who is one heartbeat away from the helm of state government here in Tennessee had this to say.




Its unfortunate that a political leader would use such a solemn occasion to launch a petty and misguided political attack.

In response, Tennessee House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh issued the following:

“September 11th is a day when all Americans come together to remember a solemn occasion in our history. Instead of honoring those who gave their lives 12 years ago, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey decided to take the low-road and accuse our Commander-in-Chief of allying with the very terrorist who attacked our country.

“This divisive rhetoric dishonors the memory of those who died on this day. It is insulting to our President, to Senator Corker who shares the President’s position, to all Americans no matter their position on Syria and to the memory of those we’ve lost. Lt. Governor Ramsey is either grossly misinformed or he has decided to be a partisan, instead of a patriot. He should apologize immediately.”

Not to be outdone, the Chair of the TNDP also made a statement, as reported by Michael Cass of the Tennessean:

“”Speaker Ramsey should fire whoever wrote such an outrageous, dishonest, misleading, incendiary, unpatriotic and dangerous attack on our nation’s president and on Republican leaders like Senators Corker and McCain and House Speaker Boehner and even the military leaders working with them,” Herron said in a statement. “Many of us are unsure about how to proceed in Syria, but whoever wrote that tweet dishonors the victims of 9/11 and our military men and women who are doing all they can to stop more children and parents from being gassed and killed.”

He should fire someone? That’s where that tweet leads you? Holy Mackerel!

Kind of a weird thing to say in the same week three staffers announced their exit from the party offices.


In any case, Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s statement is shameful. It touches on all the things that make people’s ears bleed when they think too much about politics, and go down a road that is unnecessarily divisive on such a day as today.

Kudos to House Minority Leader Fitzhugh for calling Speaker Ramsey out.

As for the TNDP statement…


Mar 21 2013

Write The Caucuses About Proposed Executive Committee Changes – #TNDP

Posted by Steve Ross in TN Senate, TNDP, TNHouse

Earlier this week I wrote here and here about the proposed changes to the State Democratic Party Executive Committee some elected officials are seeking.

Below is my letter to the members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses. If you would like to send a letter, you may do so by clicking here.

Senate and House Democratic Caucus Members:

My name is Steve Ross. I’m a resident of Shelby Co., a former Democratic candidate for Shelby Co. Commission, a member of the Shelby Co. Democratic Party Executive Committee, and a Democratic activist/blogger.

I’m writing to voice my opposition to the amendments proposed that would make the bills HB898/SB297sponsored by Rep. Powell and Sen. Finney.

The past six years have been hard for Democrats. The losses of the 2008 election are one of the reasons I made a personal decision to get more involved in state and local politics. In that time I’ve worked to highlight the importance of focusing on the fundamentals to build a strong state party, and local parties in support of our candidates and ideals. I’ve made it my personal mission to bring insight to important issues, often ignored by traditional media, through my blogs – and the now defunct, as well as other activities.

While there’s no question that we have some fundamental problems within our party, it is my heartfelt belief that seeking a unilateral change to the structure of the Executive Committee is both short sighted, and will only further weaken the party by ripping the scab off deep wounds that exist. Re-opening this wound will make it more difficult for our party to heal and will diminish any hopes of holding the ground we currently have, not to mention making gaining ground.

While I was disappointed that my preferred candidates for Chair did not win over the past two cycles, I understand my opportunity to have a voice in who becomes chair in the future is through lobbying current Executive Committee members, and if they are unresponsive, through my work to elect someone more responsive in August 2014. Further, as a Democrat, and someone who values the democratic process, I understand we must work together to show our strength. This effort does not affirm that value.

While I oppose this current effort, know that I am not completely opposed to a potential change in structure. In fact, change is something I have openly advocated for in the past, and will likely advocate for in the future.

That said, any proposed change cannot be imposed on our party. It must be made with the cooperation of the State Executive Committee and Democrats throughout the state. If we are to be the party “of the people”, we must include them in decisions that impact them.

Thank you for your time and service.


Steve Ross

Mar 31 2011

#mountainsrock – Senate Update

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

via @thecountyseat

It was a four hour marathon. I think the only meeting I’ve been involved in that was longer involved Memphis City Schools, and Councilman Shea Flinn assures me that record will be beaten this budget season.

After what seemed to be a forever of Tourism testimony, which was interesting but seemed like a stalling tactic, we got another three hours of testimony from a couple of scientists, and a coal industry advocate, who, as one might expect, wasn’t too keen on the proposal.

There was talk of “reclaiming mines” a process whereby old surface mines abandoned from the era before the Feds got involved in mining, are restarted under current guidelines, which everyone seemed to agree left the mountain in a better state than it was after the first round of mining. Some on the committee seemed to say that mining activity was good for all mountains, something Zach Wamp alluded to in the GOP primary, a position that defies logic.

There were offers and counter offers and tries to make the thing go. The Chairman of the committee said that if the two sides could get together and come up with a compromise that he’d reopen the committee to get it to the floor. One member seemed to ask the coal advocate if there was any chance of a compromise, to which he replied no, a sure signal that no matter what happened, it wasn’t going to pass anyway.

But Sen. Eric Stewart put in a valiant effort, with some pretty awesome assists from Sen. Beverly Marrero whose pointed wit at times, seemed to tell the members engaging in a cat and mouse game, where the could stick their ball of yarn.

Ultimately, the bill failed on a party line vote. Sen. Herron left before the vote occurred, citing another appointment and the unusually long time frame of the committee session.

The House version of the bill is scheduled to come up in committee on April 12th. I’m not sure what Rep. McDonald has in mind for the bill. I’ll contact his office and see what’s on the horizon.

I want to thank all the people who took time out of their day to call or write the members of the House and Senate Committees about this. We didn’t win this round, but I am convinced that if we persevere and continue to advocate for common sense reforms like this one, we will be successful in our push to preserve the natural beauty around us.

As was noted in the meeting, this is the fourth year a version of this bill has come before this committee. Truth be told, from the very beginning it was evident to me here in Memphis, and friends in the audience in Nashville that folks had made up their minds before they even got there. The three hours of testimony was more about choking out the bill than anything else. It’s a time tested tactic to make things that folks don’t want to vote on go away.

That this bill hasn’t passed yet is not an indication that there’s something wrong with the bill, but that there’s something wrong with the people voting on the bill. Republicans have ruled the roost in the State Senate since 2006 when the balance of power shifted dramatically. Until that balance of power shifts again, bills like this are going to be next to impossible to pass.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It simply mean that elections matter…a whole lot more than we often think they do. Every battle lost today is a lesson learned for tomorrow, and should re-ignite our resolve to elect officials that are more in line with our Tennessee values.

I want to give a shout out to TN LEAF who I am in no way affiliated with, but became acquainted with in the process of learning about this issue. You can follow them on on the twitter @tnleaf. Their direct advocacy inspired me to encourage others to do the same. Keep the faith folks.

This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. I think you’ll be seeing more of this kind of advocacy in the future seeking to build coalitions on issues of common cause. That’s the way things are supposed to happen, and hopefully, through this hard work they will.

Dec 02 2009

Sure, I’ll Jump In…

Posted by Steve Ross in elections, National Politics, State Politics

So last night was both disappointing and eventful.

First, I would like to echo the sentiments of Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney, about the Adrienne Pakis-Gillon campaign. She worked her butt off without much visible support from the establishment powers outside of Shelby Co. and deserves kudos for running a clean campaign against an opponent whose actions and legislative record literally begs for mudslinging.

Speaking of State Senator Finney, there was some interesting news in his neck of the woods last night that has taken the state by storm.

As if you didn’t already know, Rep. John Tanner (D-TN08), a founder of the Blue Dog Coalition announced his retirement after several media outlets reported his impending retirement based on an anonymous source.

This led to a weird series of events that started out with a whole lot of speculation on who would run for the seat and ended up with Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Roy Herron, dropping out of the Governor’s race to run for TN-08.

Herron’s decision to run isn’t all that surprising. While he has been successful at winning straw polls all over the state, and is to be commended for out organizing his primary opponents at said straw polls, REAL polls suggest that his candidacy wasn’t really getting the reach required to overcome the presumed front runner in the race, Mike McWherter, who hails from the same area. For Herron, the political math made sense, and he did his math quickly dropping out of the race less than four hours after the first report hit Tennessee media.

Despite Herron’s early jump into the TN-08 race, several other elected and former officials have expressed interest in the seat or at least been mentioned, including; Phillip Pinion of Union City (burnout?), Mark Maddox (He’s more likely to run for Roy’s State Senate seat), and Lowe Finney (who is up for re-election in the State Senate in 2010).

In the mean time, Republicans have wasted no time in attacking Herron as an Obama lovin’ gay sympathizing socialist, which is funny on several levels. Herron has a pretty solid moderate to conservative voting record. Painting him as a wide eyed liberal is not just a stretch, but pure bull. As I said on twitter earlier today

If the GOP thinks Roy Herron is a “libural”, then I guess those (R) state legislators that voted for an unconstitutional gun law are too!

We’ll see how this pans out in the coming weeks, but unless Herron really screws up, he’s in pretty good shape to win the primary in August despite not being able to use the funds he’s already collected for his Gubernatorial bid, as noted by Goldni and Braisted.

So, what was I doing while all this was going on? Loading in a show in San Antonio that is featuring W. as a speaker. Yeah, it’s that one.

There are lots of other good posts about this out there, but I have a show to load out. Back in Memphis tomorrow. Thank God!