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.

In the Media
Post Politics
No Silence Here

NOTE: Act Blue does not take any revenue from your donation, however if you would like to leave them a tip, you may do so in the donation process.

Dec 15 2008

Bredesen’s Bone to Pick

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized
Tags: | 1 Comment

Apparently, there was some action on the race for the TNDP while I was in a full-scale internet blackout late last week.

Over at Post Politics, we saw our Governor exhibit his traditional “no position taken” position in endorsing Charles Robert Bone. Another post, quoting a Democratic insider with a very lively comments thread, and a litany of other posts about and around the subject.

At this point, I’m not ready to come out swinging for anyone. Forrester is saying the right things, but without a solid action plan, I’m still not sold. Mr. Bone, on the other hand, sufferers from the support of our Governor, whose Democratic credentials become more questionable every time he opens his mouth. Further, Mr. Bone hasn’t released ANYTHING to my knowledge detailing anything he intends to do at the TNDP, so that isn’t very reassuring.

One comment from this post really stands out in my mind

Frankly, I don’t think any of you people have a clue. Campaigns and caucuses run elections, not freaking parties. I have friends that are Democratic political operatives in North Carolina. They told me that the campaigns in that state are completely separate from the state party because the state party is run by a bunch of worthless crazies.

First, the commenter is generally correct, state parties cannot “work” every campaign. It’s just impossible. The state party can help tie campaigns together, or provide an overarching framework for campaigns to piggy back on. Secondly, I’m not sure what he means by “crazies”, but if “crazies” means minimizing your role to somehow create success, well, that sounds like crazy to me. Has the TNDP been run by crazies all this time? Maybe. And didn’t North Carolina get a new Democratic Senator and go for Obama? Well maybe a state party being run by crazies isn’t so bad after all!

I don’t think anyone is calling for the TNDP to work like the Politburo, expelling, or otherwise disciplining those who veer from its vision. I do think most Tennessee Democrats would like a party that seems outwardly engaged, something that was not evident in the last election cycle. Selecting an insider for the chair of the TNDP would seem to be a contrary position to that circumstance.

The reality is that no one will get the chair of the TNDP without being an insider. Insiders run politics at all levels. Even newcomers have to have some inside support to be successful. So the question for the TNDP may be, “What kind of insider do we want?” In order to answer that question, it may be helpful to determine what kind of insider we don’t want.

I don’t want a whiner who spends the bulk of their time blaming the top of the ticket, or tossing around straw men to somehow strengthen their diminishing position, I want a fighter. I don’t want a person that relies solely on their inside ties to run the party, I want someone with a broad vision willing to include people from all walks of life in innovative ways. I don’t want someone who views the role of the TNDP as that of a fiscal parasite, leeching off the national party for existence, I want someone who will make the party strong and sustainable.

Of the two announced candidates, I don’t know if either are the right choice for the party, but I do know that the party is not in a strong enough position to provide the support necessary to bring a Democratic majority back to the state ledge.

Another comment that I thought was interesting came from Nate de Salvo

By the logic you people throw around, Howard Dean and the DNC won the presidency, not Barack Obama. And I guess the RNC and whoever their chairman is lost.

How ignorant is that?

I would submit that the RNC, NRCC, and NRSC DID lose over the past two cycles. They had a President that was relatively popular until he proved himself utterly incompetent to the rest of the nation (most Democrats were painfully aware of this long before) in 2005. The result was losing the majority of the Congress, as well as the White House. That seems like a failure on a party level to me.

I would also argue that, while Howard Dean may not deserve all the credit for the gains that Democrats have made nationally, he does deserve some credit for setting up a system that works to involve as many people as possible in the process. Dean’s 50 state strategy laid the groundwork for Obama’s fundraising and organizing bonanza. I credit Dean for opening our eyes to a new potential that doesn’t deny the effectiveness of old campaign methods, but incorporates new ways of communicating into them.

Ultimately, that’s the same type of role the TNDP should work toward; laying the groundwork for campaigns to be successful.

Finally, I want to talk about our Governor. I don’t blame him for the losses in 2008 any more than I credit him for anything in 2006. He’s the Governor. I understand the impact top of ticket races can have on down ticket contests, but unlike the Governor, I don’t blame the top of the ticket for the problems at the bottom of the ticket. Every race is unique, with unique opportunities and challenges. Still, as the head of state, and the highest elected Democratic politician in the state, he has a leadership role. Being an effective leader requires a lot of skills, accountability is one of them. Blaming the top of the ticket for problems down the ballot is childish. Each contest stands on its own, and the individual campaigns, including the coordinating campaigns of the Democratic Party and Caucus apparatus should be nimble enough to provide support in this challenging year for the state.

Perhaps the top of the ticket created additional challenges for down ballot contests, but we knew who the Democratic Presidential nominee was going to be by state primary day here in Tennessee, and some of the challenges that had to be overcome. That left plenty of time for the individual candidates, and the Democratic leadership to adjust their strategy. Blaming Obama for the losses in the state is like blaming Toyota for the broken car you never maintained. Had the powers that be spent as much time building the party as they have taken credit or passed blame, depending on the situation, the party would be in a position to weather these storms.

Unfortunately, the Governor chose to focus on “sage advise” to the President-elect, like visiting a Waffle House, or Wal-Mart. In doing so, Bredesen “accidentally” reinforced right wing talking points that Obama was somehow an elitist. Now, I’m no strategy guru, but it seems like if someone is calling you an “elitist” the last thing you want is your “friends” saying anything that might reinforce that message, particularly if that “friend” is freelancing a message on a level that’s just way out of this world.

Maybe the Governor should have followed his own advise with State candidates, showing up at Wal-Marts and Waffle Houses in hotly contested areas instead of providing material for Bill Hobbs. Just a thought.

Dec 10 2008

Chip’s Vision

Posted by Steve Ross in Uncategorized
Tags: | Add comment

Kleinheider posts on a letter from TNDP candidate for Chair, and current Treasurer, Chip Forrester.

The letter gives scant new details on how Forrester plans to turn the party around, but does give just enough to make one want more, an appetizer or general vision, if you will, giving Democrats a tantalizing taste of what Chip wants to do for the Party.

Last week while I was out of town, Forrester met with several Memphis Democrats, and let some of his plans be known, though still in a very general way, for the party. All in all, I think most people came away from it with a pretty good feeling.

Since I couldn’t attend, much to my displeasure, I didn’t benefit from this “feel good”. In fact, just moments before Kleinheider posted his report I was wondering just what was going on with our current Treasurer’s campaign for TNDP Chair. I’m glad to see he’s making inroads with several constituencies.

Unfortunately, as is my nature, I’m still not convinced. At this point, I may be the only one in the state, but I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly of party politics both here and in Arkansas for some 20 years and I’m skeptical. To be fair, I’m a perpetual skeptic, and I’m unrealistically hard on everyone, including myself. That said, I’m one of the most optimistic skeptics you’ll ever find anywhere. I want to believe that things will get better, but have lived through the reality that it rarely does.

We can talk about broad ideas and gimmicks to turn the party around, and some, hell many, of them may work. But the devil’s in the details. Many of us want to know specifics.

I don’t have a vote in this thing. I’m not a state Execom member. I am a stakeholder, as is everyone in Tennessee. As much as conventional wisdom would like to say that nothing happens in Nashville, really quite a bit happens there that affects our daily lives. Who our representatives will be, will shape unseen details of life in Tennessee for years, perhaps decades to come. Ultimately, that’s why this is important, that’s why we need more than a vision.

I hope that whoever becomes the chair of the TNDP, most likely Mr. Forrester, can turn that vision into a plan, and coordinate that plan with the county parties throughout the state. Still, I’d like to see a detailed plan, and soon. I don’t think I’m being melodramatic in saying that the position is of great importance to the future of the state of Tennessee, and the TNDP.

As for Mr. Forrester, should you be selected Chair, remember, we are your soldiers and we are ready to fight. Let us know your plan.