Nov 24 2014

The Steve Ross Show – Episode 2

Episode 2 of the Steve Ross Show is up and ready for your viewing pleasure.

You can watch it below or by clicking here.

This episode includes an interview with Rebecca Terrell, the Executive Director of Choices – The Memphis Center for Reproductive Health.

Rebecca and I talk about the state of reproductive healthcare in Tennessee in the wake of the Amendment 1 constitutional amendment.

I also take some time to touch on the President’s Executive Order on immigration, and the reaction to it, changes in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, and the race for TNDP Chair.

For ‘My Take’ I talk about the attempt to suppress union organizing at the Chattanooga VW plant, and the company’s decision to work with the unions in the wake of that interference.

Hope you enjoy the show!

Nov 05 2014

The Day After – 2014 Edition

Posted by Steve Ross in elections, State Politics

You could see this as utter devastation. Or you can see it as a clean slate to start re-building something better.

You could see this as utter devastation. Or you can see it as a clean slate to start re-building something better.

Its been six years since the first bomb dropped on Democrats in Tennessee.

The 2008 election saw the State House and Senate fall to GOP control for the first time since Reconstruction. And while full GOP control may have been delayed for two years, thanks to some crafty behind the scenes maneuvering, it was only a brief delay in the total control that would come two years later.

That doesn’t make what happened last night any easier, but it does give us the opportunity to make some decisions about the future of the Democratic Party. And while the wounds may seem too fresh, and many may feel its too soon…this has been coming for six years now. No one should be surprised.

Where do we go from here?

I’ve waxed eloquent several times in this space about things the party, and progressives either in or outside the party, can do to try and turn things around. Privately, these thoughts have received some attention, but I’ve never seen any real action on them…and that inaction has led me to take a step back from some of the statewide issues, in favor of more local issues…that included a run for County Commission in 2012, among other things.

From my observations over the past six years, I’ve come to the conclusion that Democrats in Tennessee…and the south generally, are confronted with a two front battle: One is against a robust, well funded and well organized ideological opponent, the other a battle over the internal culture of the party, and the methods by which we might find a way to rebuild after these consecutive apocalypses.

It is the second front, not the first, that is the most challenging…but the lesson can’t be any more clear than it is now…three cycles after the initial fall: Our bi-annual pattern of last second ‘hail-mary’ passes can only be successful if the score is close in the first place.

For the past three cycles, it not only hasn’t been, but we’ve been sacked behind the line of scrimmage as the clock ran out.

Recognition

A lot of good people lost yesterday. One loss that I take personally is Gloria Johnson from Knoxville.

Gloria came just 200 votes shy of a second term according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.

She’s a true fighter, who deserved a second term, in my humble opinion. And while we all knew she was against long odds, that didn’t stop her. She fought all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, she came up short.

My fear, in her loss, is that some will take it as proof that a fighter who stands tall for her beliefs can’t win in Tennessee. The fact is, by any measure she knew what she was up against and did it anyway.

GOP hack, Tom Leatherwood id’d her back in January of this year as one of the GOP’s top targets…and boy did they target her. The entire TNGOP mobilized against her.

I won’t speak for her but Gloria knew she might not have the kind of support a candidate in her position needs to win from some state Democratic groups…though I should note, The House Democratic Caucus, and several Democratic organizations in her area stood with her….even if it was at the very last second.

What’s most annoying is, there is no indication from available disclosures that the State Party was involved in her campaign in any measurable way. In fact, it appears she had to use a third party vendor, rather than the Democratic Party’s own tools to help manage her campaign…which, if true, is a travesty.

I’ll have to wait and see on the final disclosures that will come out later if they were involved…but considering the target on her back, it should have been ‘all hands on deck’ from the get-go.

The last second money doesn’t make it look like her fellow Democrats had her back. And if they did, they didn’t have it soon enough.

More Recognition

The married couple agrees...Vote No on 1

The married couple agrees…Vote No on 1

Another group…or collection of groups I think is worth mentioning is the No on 1 campaign.

While they too may not have been successful at beating back the intrusion of state legislators into the medical decisions of women (and possibly men at some point), they outperformed all the other Constitutional Amendments on the ballot, keeping the margins close enough to keep hope alive well into the evening.

I’ve seen some comments on social media that have been less than flattering, I think the organizers of No on 1 should leave those comments where they are, and take solace in the fact that they ran a much better race than any other statewide progressive issue, or candidate.

The messaging was smart and efficient. The delivery was done well. The ground game, at least here in Shelby County, seemed to be well organized and vibrant.

But what no one could have planned for is the low turnout on our side of the ledger. 40,000 fewer voters in Shelby County, and 20,000 fewer in Davidson (as compared to 2010), most likely due to weakness at the top of the Democratic ticket hampered the No on 1 cause.

Congratulations and Thank You’s

Big congrats to my friend Lee Harris as he embarks on his first term as my State Senator. There are only five of you in the Caucus, so I expect you to be a big part in helping guide us out of the wilderness.

Congrats also to Sara Kyle, as she won her bid to complete the term of her husband…and former Minority leader.

Congrats to the members of the Shelby County House Democratic Caucus, but especially those who had contested elections: Larry Miller, Barbara Cooper, Raumesh Akbari, and G.A. Hardaway.

A special thanks to Dwayne Thompson for fighting the good fight in House Dist. 96.

A final thought

RestrEntrepreneur, and one time Democratic candidate for Shelby County Commission, Taylor Berger has been taking to his blog as of late to talk about the state of the Democratic Party in Shelby Co.

Even if you disagree with everything he has to say, we should welcome him into the fold. I’ve only met him once but he seems to be a smart guy with a lot of energy, and we need that.

His most recent post asks the question: “Will Democrats leave Tennessee after the wave of red that just washed across the state?”

Here’s my answer. You don’t lose until you quit. If you don’t quit, you might not win, but you don’t lose.

That’s something all Democrats across the South (hell, the whole damn country for that matter) ought to keep in mind as we lick our wounds for a bit before we jump back in the fray.

Buck up campers…we’ve got nowhere to go but up from here.

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…

Apr 29 2011

It’s All About the Money

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

Tiger Dud

Sometimes I wonder what drives people. Other times I wonder how they have any wheels at all. But most times, that driving force is very apparent through the actions of a person or group, and more often than not, their true motivation shines through.

This morning the Tennessee Democratic Party is hosting a Unity Breakfast in Nashville. Typical fundraising affair, big name speaker, in this case, Vice-President Gore, nice restaurant. I wouldn’t say it’s no big deal, but I also wouldn’t say its something that, if I were the TNGOP, I would attack. Doing so might inadvertently advertise the event.

But that’s exactly what the TNGOP did in this radio ad. I’m sure they used Charlie Sheen’s voice with permission, and I’d be interested to know how much that cost them, or will cost them after Mr. Sheen files suit.

Anyway, my point is, the TNGOP attacking a fundraiser is just endemic of their whole worldview. I’m sure in some room somebody has this complex calculation involving dry beans, Pi, and a few other constants that tells them what they believe is the total amount of campaign dollars in the universe. Subtract the salaries and budgets of all the other organizations out there and it shows just how much campaign cash Tennessee has. Armed with this knowledge, the TNGOP certainly calculated that at $250 a head the TNDP would most certainly gain a competitive advantage, particularly considering the big name Oscar winner on the bill. Considering the dire nature of their flat earth funding philosophy, and the huge potential for these mythically limited funds to move in the wrong direction, the TNGOP had to strike back with a washed up hack.

Because it really is all about the money and nothing else and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it. From the lavish $25,000 a head “shakedown at the Governor’s mansion, to the bill promoting the massive influx of corporate campaign donations, that’s the real focus of the TNGOP, getting the money so no one else can.

Way to go guys, and thanks for the cross promotion. In the mean time, I’ve forwarded the audio of your radio ad to Sheen’s Business Agent.

Happy litigation!

Feb 04 2009

Chip In! UPDATED

Posted by Steve Ross in TNDP

Update 11:28 CST: You guys are AWESOME! We hit our initial $1000 goal in just four and a half hours with 21 donors. Let’s keep the momentum going and up the ante. We want to see if we can get 50 donors, totaling $2000 by Friday. Any amount is appreciated. The goal is to hit, or exceed BOTH benchmarks. Thanks for your support!

Just under two weeks ago the Tennessee Democratic Party elected a new chairman, Chip Forrester.  In his remarks to the State Executive Committee, Forrester pledged to “…open up this party to everyone who believes in the ideals of the Democratic Party…”.

In support of that goal, several Tennessee bloggers have come together to launch the “Chip In” fundraising campaign for the TNDP.  Our goal is to raise, at least, $1000 dollars for the party.

To donate, simply click the banner above, or the Act Blue icon to the right.  Any amount is appreciated, and you can schedule recurring donations if you like.

Thanks for your support of the TNDP.  With your help we can make the state Legislature and keep the office of Governor blue.

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