by Steven Hale
In an email sent yesterday to members of the Tennessee Democratic Party's executive committee, former state Sen. Roy Herron shares a list of 42 members whom he says have committed to vote for him for party chair.
It would appear to be a not-so-subtle way of inviting members, and opponents, to do the math (72 executive committee members / 2 = 36 + 1 = 37) and see that he has this thing locked up.
Party insiders have suggested to Pith that the list might include some members whose commitment to Herron is being, let's say, overstated. But Herron says they're solid.
"These are all people that I have personally talked with," Herron tells Pith. "The vast majority of them, face to face. And they have personally promised me their vote. I believe they are honest and honorable, and people of their word."
"I'm on the record, and those 42 people are on the record."
While Chattanooga Area Labor Council Jane Hampton Bowen is still in the race, Herron's real competition is current party treasurer Dave Garrison, who has secured endorsements from Congressman Jim Cooper, as well as the Democratic mayors from the three biggest cities in the state — Nashville's Karl Dean, Knoxville's Madeline Rogero and Memphis' A C Wharton. The executive committee will vote Jan. 26.
Reached by Pith Friday, Garrison declined to comment on the list.
Herron's email, with the list of members he says have committed to vote for him, is after the jump:
Dear Executive Committee Members:
Forty-Two (42) of those committed to voting for me for Party Chair are listed below. (Others will be announced later.) To all of you who have so promised, I thank you. To those whose votes I have not yet earned, I respectfully ask for your vote. To all 72 of you, I promise to work with you and for Tennessee.
Executive Committee Members Commitment List Announced Today:
Martha Beatty Wiley
Dr. Geeta McMillan
Jimmie Sue Staten, President, Tennessee Federation of Democratic Women
Rep. Mike Turner, House Democratic Caucus Chair
Herron's candidacy is interesting, in part, because of some of the more conservative positions he has taken in the past as a Democratic state Senator. A life member of the National Rifle Association, he has supported expansions of gun rights that were opposed by many in his party, and while he has voted against adding anti-abortion language to the state's Constitution, he has identified himself as anti-abortion.
UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, Jane Hampton Bowen announced her withdrawal from the race, and released a statement:
“The race is now one between two strong Democrats,” she said. “My job now becomes one of support and input toward the reinvigoration of the Democratic Party in Tennessee.
“I have met many inspiring people, and I am looking forward to working with them, and continuing my quest for a more inclusive party, especially for working men and women, a party that stands for the rights and ideals of both urban and rural Tennesseans.”
She continued, “I endorse our party, the party of rich, compassionate history and traditions, and the party I envision for the future, the one that is the future. The time begins now for whichever candidate is elected chair.
“Thanks to all who believe in me, endorsed me and worked for me. I am greatly honored by your support. The pleasure of supporting your choice will be mine.”