Democratic state Sen. Douglas Henry has a long, distinguished and storied career as a legislator. He has been in the Senate since the early 1970s, and during that time he has developed a reputation as a person who can make connections, compromise and push important local issues with a kind of seniority enjoyed by few.
Henry has been strong on women’s issues, particularly in strengthening laws for prosecuting rapists and on health issues, including pushing for expanded Medicaid coverage for female-specific procedures such as Pap tests.
Henry was also the original sponsor of legislation to open Tennessee to charter schools, which we believe are a key component to improving public education across the state. Last year, he voted to expand charter schools in Nashville. He also supports working across party and ideological lines to upgrade the state’s two-year colleges, which is essential in training our new-century workforce.
The senator’s controversial primary victory only reminded us — and the community — of the class and sense of duty both he and his opponent, upstart Jeff Yarbro, possess. Henry won by a hair in a primary where votes were miscounted and misconstrued. He and Yarbro maintained their cool throughout, and when the final outcome was announced, Yarbro conceded graciously, and Henry accepted with the same. Both men should be commended for their conduct.
Henry’s Republican opponent is Dr. Steve Dickerson, an anesthesiologist who we believe will be a serious contender in a future race. Dickerson is clearly intelligent, and we found him pleasantly absent of the extreme edges favored by some in his party right now. For instance, he opposes mountaintop removal mining and believes government should protect the environment, not let business and industry dictate its treatment. On this front, he and Henry are similar.
While we favor Henry in this race, we urge Dickerson to remain in politics. As for Henry, when he finally does leave office, with him will go an entire tradition of public service as a call of duty.