Democratic Party power brokers want Forrester out as chair

Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:47pm

Some of the state’s biggest Democratic donors, led by wealthy businessman Doug Horne, are pressuring Chip Forrester not to run for another two years as party chairman.

Horne said Thursday his group asked Forrester to step aside to give new leaders the opportunity to try to rebuild the party. But Horne, a former party chairman himself, said Forrester is vowing to fight to keep his job and refusing to accept blame for November’s elections when Democrats lost the governorship, three congressional seats and 14 seats in the state House.

“There’s a big consensus of some of the more experienced people in the party and the donors in the party that they’d really prefer Chip not to run again,” Horne told The City Paper.

“We asked Chip not to run. I personally met with him and asked him to let us start anew and fresh. Chip can’t be blamed for all the defeats in Tennessee, but neither can he be completely exonerated. He was captain of the party’s ship, and the ship hit the banks. So we feel like we need to change the captain.”

Four candidates are running against Forrester, who couldn’t be reached for comment for this article. The latest to join the contest is Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball. Oddly enough, Ball was one of 105 Democrats who endorsed the Republican governor-elect, Bill Haslam, against Democrat Mike McWherter.

The party’s 66-member executive committee will elect the new chairman in January. Of all of Forrester’s challengers, Memphis activist Matt Kuhn is seen as the strongest by many. Horne said he’s backing Kuhn, a former aide to Congressman John Tanner.

“It’s just time to move on and start fresh,” Horne said. “Let’s have a new face for the Democratic Party. Chip wants to continue. But we’ve got a race and we’ll see who’s victorious.”

Two years ago, Forrester won his job despite the opposition of many of these same Democratic donors, plus Gov. Phil Bredesen and much of the rest of the party’s senior elected leadership.

About 50 Democratic leaders, meanwhile, met Wednesday in Nashville to debate what went wrong in the elections and how to come back. They included former Congressman Bob Clement, Metro Council members Megan Barry and Jerry Maynard, and state Reps. Mike Turner and Sherry Jones.

The meeting, the second since the election, was organized by Horne with other Democratic money men, including Charles Bone and Clark Jones.

“It’s a rebirth. It’s a redirection,” said Bob Tuke, a former party chairman who attended. “Where do we go from here? All good organizations do this. The Republicans have been great at that. When they take a pounding, they don’t mope. They get together and say, ‘How do we do it better?’”

Tuke said no consensus has been reached, but he added: “It’s really healthy positive stuff. I was very pleased there was the absence of whining.” 

4 Comments on this post:

By: FilCamp on 12/2/10 at 12:34

Can't the state party leaders see it's NOT the state Democrat party that caused the loss, it's the National bunch of idiots like Obama and his crew? Obama, Pelosi, Reid, B. Frank, etc, are who cause problems for the party on the state and local level.

Republicans have the same problem: as long as Karl Rove, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, etc, have anything to do with the National group (which always claim to speak for the rank-and-file members), people will be skeptical.

By: govskeptic on 12/2/10 at 1:45

So, this group that was listed in the story are the "Power Brokers"
for the party in this state. If so, then there you have the answer as to
what went wrong for the Democrats in this election! Most of those
listed are to the left of Pelosi and the President! Their roundtable
discussions over at the Sunset Grill must be something to behold.

By: stellabardo on 12/2/10 at 4:51

It IS the state Democratic party that's to blame. They ran their gubernatorial candidate to the right of Karl Rove in the past election and quenched any flicker of interest from actual Democratic voters. Why would a Democrat vote for a Democrat who doesn't believe in evolution and opposes gay adoption?

By: nashtnman on 12/2/10 at 6:09

This is comical and typical of this party. The blame game. You idiots, the blame game lost you the positions and you continue to follow suit by blaming within your own party. This is exactly why voting turned out the way it did. We are tired of everyone blaming everyone else. You elected officials are the ones that make the decisions based on what your voters of your prospective districts want, and now you are turning on yourselves because you all stopped listening. Your individual opinion is irrelevant. Your opinion is suppose to be the opinion of those you represent whether you agree or not. Oh, and by the way, not all of us that believe in Gay Rights vote democrat. This is not about your damn party. It is about the people you represent and if you cannot represent the people that put you there we will remove you. This is about what is best for ALL AMERICANS, not the individual illegal or gay man or your buddy in your district. This is your downfall. Get away from the β€œme” or β€œ1” mentality and start looking at what is best for all of us and start listening to the people you are supposed to represent. You lost big because you stopped listening to those of us that put you there and we are tired of sending people to Washington that forget where they are from so we removed you. And we will continue to remove you until you start listening to us. You work for us not your party.