by Steven Hale
Nashville attorney Ben Smith is withdrawing from the race for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party and is throwing his support behind outgoing state Sen. Roy Herron.
"It's clear I can't win," Smith tells Pith.
Along with Herron, current party treasurer Dave Garrison, former party communications director Wade Munday, and vice president and political liaison for the Chattanooga Area Labor Council Jane Hampton Bowen remain candidates. The party's 72 executive committee members will vote on Jan. 26, to decide who succeeds outgoing chairman Chip Forrester.
In a letter to the party's executive committee, Smith addressed his decision to withdraw his candidacy and support Herron's:
Dear Members of the Executive Committee,
As a candidate for TNDP Chair, my goal has always been to do what is best for Tennessee’s Democrats. Over the last few months of campaigning I have had the opportunity to speak in detail with many of you about the specific ways that the Tennessee Democratic Party could practically and effectively better equip individual campaigns, reestablish and rebuild trust in the state party’s effectiveness (particularly in areas outside of Nashville), and ultimately change the conversation about Democrats in Tennessee.
I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to have received your consideration, and to have earned the support of hundreds of Democrats all across the state of Tennessee, including a number of you. However, this race has reached a point where victory is no longer within my reach, and, accordingly, it would not benefit Tennessee’s Democrats for me to remain a candidate for TNDP Chair.
Fortunately there remains a candidate for Chair whom I trust will be as committed as I am to the following if elected to serve as your Chair:
1. Working diligently to organize and prepare practical ways to equip 2014’s campaigns during the first 11 months after being elected Chair;
2. Being transparent and accountable to the members of the Executive Committee with respect to every dollar of the party’s resources;
3. Building the brand value of the Tennessee Democratic Party through the effective articulation of the principles for which we stand;
4. Understanding the short term need to identify and focus on regaining state house and senate seats in a number of rural areas where Democrats remain strong; and
5. Working effectively with the caucuses to promote their Democratic members and their legislative agendas.
Roy Herron is the candidate whom I believe will effectively rebuild the brand of the Tennessee Democratic Party by serving as the next Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. After speaking with him in detail, I trust that he will always put the needs of Tennessee’s Democrats above his own.
The strength of my campaign rested largely on the practical, efficient and proven operational practices that the party could implement to effectively benefit Democratic candidates. While I cannot claim to know all of Senator Herron’s ideas in these areas, I do believe in his ability and in his commitment to identifying and implementing effective practices at the state party, similar to those I've offered, if he is elected to serve as your Chair. Although this is not the conclusion that I’d hoped for my campaign, I believe this is the best thing I can do for Tennessee’s Democrats at this time. Roy Herron is capable of accomplishing the goal that we all share - getting more Democrats elected in Tennessee. It is therefore without hesitation or regret that I now offer my support for Roy Herron to be elected to serve as the next Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Please join me in supporting Roy Herron to serve as the next Chair of the TNDP.
Let’s change the conversation together.