Three new candidates are running to become chairman of the state’s embattled Democratic Party, challenging Chip Forrester’s bid for another two-year term.
Matt Kuhn, Justin Walling and Wade Munday are lobbying the party’s 66-member executive committee for the job, which Forrester held during the last election cycle when Democrats surrendered three congressional districts and 14 seats in the state House to Republicans.
“The current chairman’s defensive responses and dismissive attitude towards his critics reveal a leadership response that is at best half-awake to the present realities we face,” Munday, a former party communications director, wrote in a letter to the committee. “Aside from the recent legislative defeats, he is incapable of uniting our party. I respect his service as a loyal and faithful Democrat, but I disagree with his request to seek an extension.”
In his announcement, Justin Walling, the chairman of county chairs for the party, acknowledged his youth might hurt his candidacy.
“At age 28, I know that many of you may feel I am too young to be chairman of this party. However, my age could actually present an asset for our party. It would send a message to key demographics of Tennessee the TNDP is revived and ready to move Tennessee forward,” said Walling, a former aide to Congressman Lincoln Davis.
Kuhn, a onetime aide to Congressman John Tanner, called for a 10-year plan to rebuild the party in this state.
“We have to work diligently to replace the John Tanners, Ned McWherters, and Phil Bredesens of our brand. We have to have a 10-year strategic plan in place that rebuilds our party and regains the trust of the rural and suburban voter who has abandoned our party over the last 10 years. And as a former Shelby County chairman and campaign manager and staffer to John Tanner, I believe I know the rural and suburban voter well.”
The executive committee will meet in January to elect the new chairman. Forrester won two years ago over the opposition of Gov. Phil Bredesen and much of the party’s senior elected leadership.