Clusterf**k in Clarksville

I’m not going to go into any of the details. I want to talk about something that both Newscoma, Goldni and LWC touched on, as well as just some common sense that doesn’t seem to be very common in just about every corner of Tennessee Democratic Party.

First, three truths that EVERYONE can agree on:

1. Rosalind Kurita betrayed the Democratic Party by voting for a Republican for Lt. Governor.

2. She was challenged in a primary, probably (definitely) as a direct result of item 1.

3. She won the primary within the bounds of the rules as they stood at the time of the election.

I’m as pissed off at Rosalind Kurita for what she did as anyone. However, the simple fact remains that no matter how much people are pissed at her, she won the damn election.

Since when did Democrats start using party unity as a test for being the nominee for anything? Come on, we’re Democrats! We’ve had one side of the party screaming bloody murder for some 20 odd years that we have to act more like Republicans and another hootin’ and hollerin’ that we’re not acting like Democrats. Where did this sudden call for party purity come from?

If the powers that be on the in the TNDP and throughout the state wanted to “take her down” they should have used their connections and influence to organize an unbeatable campaign behind Barnes. I have seen no evidence of anything resembling coordination from any of the party functionaries. I certainly never got an email from ANYONE associated with the Party asking me to give him my support. Had this been solved in this manner, we all would have been giving each other high fives back in August when the election happened.

If her disunity disqualified her from the Democratic ballot, then that should have been dealt with BEFORE the election. Once the votes are cast, it does more of a disservice to the communities in question than it does any benefit to the party to have her removed from the ballot.

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I’m still mad at Kurita and don’t think she deserves to be the Democratic candidate for State Senate, but this smacks of sour grapes. Removing her from the ballot almost certainly assures that her supporters will turn on the State party and vote for the Republican (ed note: I guess I should have checked the race first, there are no other individuals in this race besides the Democratic candidate). Further, should she be allowed to stay on the ballot, you’ve created the Tennessee equivalent of a Lieberman, except this one will continue the charade of being a Democrat.

What has happened here is someone in the party, or a group of someone’s, have decided out of the blue that the party has to grow a pair. They’ve chosen a hill to die on, and I feel confident that they will get their wish.

Should Kurita get pulled from the ballot, a seat that was probably safely Democratic will probably fall to a Republican (ed note. again there are no Republicans or independents on the ballot for this election, however that doesn’t exclude this possibility in the future). Despite Kurita’s actions in the last session, I believe that when it came to brass tacks she would have done the right thing and made sure a Democrat was the Lt. Governor (her problem with Wilder now solved). Now that is far less certain.

There is one thing for sure, the party does need to grow a pair. But that doesn’t mean using technicalities or smoke filled rooms to get the desired result. That means BUILDING A PARTY that is competitive in as many counties as possible instead of just focusing on the urban areas. Tennessee is a rural state. There are a lot more voters in the rest of Tennessee than in Shelby and Davidson Counties. The failure here is on the apparatus of the state party and their seemingly stubborn determination to maintain a paternalistic oligarchy in its affairs.

If you want to build a party, you have to go for a groundswell. That means bringing in all types and allowing them the opportunity to own a piece of the party through some other means than giving money. This means having get-togethers and functions and stuff and things more than just asking for a vote and some money now and again.

If you want to build a party, you have to address their needs like you want their vote. That means not budgeting an arbitrary number of signs for a county, or just abandoning an area because it’s too hard or you’re too whatever.

If you want to build a party, you have to take these first two things, and use them to build a relationship with people, build their trust, so when you do have to do the occasional unpleasant thing, they, at the very least, don’t turn against you.

Right now, all the TNDP seems to be is an ugly web site and a couple of high falutin’ dill weeds that couldn’t organize themselves out of a shoe box.

It’s way past time to step up folks. Give us a reason to trust you and we will. Give us a reason to support you, and we will. Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll eventually lose everyone. I’d say you’re well on your way.

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