Democratic Legislators Propose Change to the TNDP

Yesterday, members of the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee members were notified of plans, by two elected Democratic legislators, to dismantle the TNDP Executive Committee, thus eliminating the election of these positions.

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Lowe Finney (Jackson) and Rep. Jason Powell (Nashville) will propose legislation that will designate the Democratic House delegation as the new Executive Committee, and let the House and Senate each appoint five (elitists) other members from around the state.

Currently, according to state law, two members, one male and one female, are elected from each Senate district in the August primary preceding gubernatorial elections. The changes being considered would eliminate this process and reduce the size of the Executive Committee to a hand picked group of elitists.

The Executive Committee elects the party officers, including party chair, treasurer and regional vice chairs among others. The Executive Committee is also responsible for adopting the party bylaws and operating budget.

The purpose of the proposed reorganization is not clear. There is no good or justified reason to make such drastic changes. According to documents being circulated amoung Executive Committee members, the sponsors of the legislation feel the executive committee is too large and will not bow to their directives.

Complaints of those favoring the power grab of the executive committee include false allegations that unpaid volunteer executive committee members are not donating money, are not actively campaigning for candidates, are not responsive to elected officials, and are only interested in attending the DNC national convention.

Sources also say the proposed legislation would be written so that it doesn’t apply to the TNGOP if they so choose. It would be introduced as an amendment to a caption bill, possibly SB297/HB898.

The implications of the proposed changes are clear. It would certainly reduce the size and makeup of the committee. It would reduce the democratic election of these 66 elected members, two from each Senate district. Under the proposed changes, the committee would be made up of 29 House Democrats plus 10 members, five each appointed by House and Senate Democrats.

Large areas would be underrepresented or not represented under the proposed change. For example, the Knoxville area will have 2 committee members, now they currently have 10 members.

The change will put more power in the hands of the few insiders. Another consideration is whether already underpaid elected officials have the time and/or inclination to take on unpaid volunteer work on behalf of the party, including Democratic voters in districts they don’t represent.

Several Executive Committee members have stated, “The proposed changes will dismantle the Tennessee Democratic Party by placing decisions in the hands of the few and taking the power from the people of Tennessee”.

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