published Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Tennessee Democrats a joke

How long does it take to turn a state political party from an empire that controls every facet of government into an irrelevant laughingstock?

Apparently about six years when you have ineffective buffoons like Chip Forrester and Gray Sasser at the helm.

Since 2006, the Tennessee Democratic Party has gone from a dominant juggernaut that controlled every aspect of state government in Tennessee to having so few members in the state legislature that, after the November elections, Republicans will likely have a supermajority allowing them to pass whatever they want, whether any Democrats show up or not.

In 2007, for the first time in state history, the Tennessee state Senate convened with a Republican majority -- by one measly vote. Democrats controlled the state House by a nine votes.

In an attempt to change the culture of the state party and win back the majority in the state Senate, Democrats installed Gray Sasser as state party chair in 2007. Sasser had exactly one qualification: His daddy is former U.S. Sen. Jim Sasser.

On Election Day 2008, Barack Obama convincingly won the White House, but that Democratic dominance didn't translate to Tennessee. Republicans gained control of the state House of Representatives for the first time since 1969 and firmly seized the state Senate by a 19-14 margin.

Not surprisingly, Gray Sasser was tossed out as party chairman at the first available opportunity. His replacement, Forrester, worked as Al Gore's Tennessee chief of staff and had previously run the state Democratic party.

It could only go up from here for Volunteer State Democrats, right?

Well ... not exactly. Under Forrester, Democrats have gotten their rear ends handed to them.

In the 2010 election, a 5-4 Democratic advantage in Tennessee's Congressional delegation turned into a 7-2 Republican majority, Bill Haslam -- a Republican -- was elected governor and Republicans gained a seat in the state Senate. Most incredibly, the GOP's control of the state House went from two seats to 30.

As a result of the beat down, Republicans controlled the state House, Senate, Congressional delegation and governor's mansion for the first time in Tennessee's history.

Despite this historically crap-tastic performance by Tennessee Democrats, Forrester not only held onto his job -- he got a pay raise!

In March, Forrester snagged a 33 percent raise, bringing his salary to $125,000, according to the Associated Press.

• • •

With little chance of preventing a Republican supermajority in the Tennessee General Assembly and no real hope of winning back any Congressional seats this year, it seemed impossible for things to get any worse for Forrester and the state's Democrats -- that was, until the Aug. 2 primaries.

Now the Tennessee Democratic Party is making national news for denouncing its own U.S. Senate nominee, Mark Clayton.

Clayton, who will square off in November's general election against Sen. Bob Corker, garnered 30 percent of the ballots cast in the Democratic seven-candidate primary.

In the process, Clayton defeated the Democratic Party's preferred candidate Park Overall -- the actress who played the sassy/grating nurse on the sitcom "Empty Nest," which ran on NBC from 1988 to 1995. (Apparently that gives her sufficient knowledge of healthcare policy in the minds of the state party.)

Rather than embracing his party -- and his employer's -- nominee for Senate, Forrester announced that Clayton "is a candidate who is associated with hate groups affiliated out of Washington, D.C." Forrester further distanced himself from Clayton, stating, "[W]e are clearly disavowing any support."

It turns out that Clayton serves as vice president of Public Advocate of the United States, a group that works extensively to fight against same sex marriage and the furtherance of gay rights.

For its anti-gay activism, the Southern Poverty Law Center named Public Advocate a "hate group."

Of course, since the Southern Poverty Law Center is, itself, a wacky fringe outfit that draws press attention by calling perfectly mainstream people "extremists" and labeling conservative groups that express concerns over illegal immigration as "hate groups," its criticism of Public Advocate should normally be taken with a grain of salt.

This time, though, Southern Poverty Law Center appears to be onto something.

On its website, Public Advocate claims that "radical homosexuals [are] infiltrating the United States Congress." In a mass fundraising email sent in January of this year, Eugene Delgaudio, the president of Public Advocate, claimed that the "Radical Homosexual Lobby" had "legalized ... bestiality in the military."

All things considered, Clayton and the other folks behind Public Advocate actually do seem to be nuttier than a pile of squirrel droppings.

And that makes Forrester look like even more of a fool.

Before beginning his campaign, Clayton claims that he met with Forrester twice to discuss the race. Forrester even had seven days after the April 5 qualifying deadline to question whether Clayton was a bona fide member of the Democratic Party, according to a report by The Tennessean. During that time, the party could have easily kicked Clayton off the ballot.

It seems that Forrester couldn't be bothered to research Clayton's background. Or, more likely, Forrester did a Google search for Clayton and saw that he was a bit of a whack job, but didn't believe he could defeat Overall for the party's Senate nomination and decided not to worry with trying to pull the anti-gay hatemonger from the ballot.

To make matters worse for Tennessee Democrats -- and even funnier for everyone else -- Gary Davis, the runner-up to Clayton in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate has endorsed Clayton and is urging his voters to turn their focus towards electing Clayton in November.

In a phone interview, Clayton claimed that his socially conservative, fiscally liberal policy beliefs are what the people of Tennessee want. He then declared that "Park Overall's campaign has proven that far-left social liberalism is dead in Tennessee."

More accurately, what Overall's loss to Clayton proves is that the Tennessee Democratic Party is dead. If the party is so weak that it can't get 50,000 people to vote for its preferred candidate in a state of six million people, it may as well not even exist.

• • •

Democratic lawmakers are already an endangered species in Tennessee. After a couple more years with Forrester at the helm, Volunteer State Democrats may vanish for good.

And just think, without Democrats in Tennessee, who would vote to pour tax dollars into ludicrous green energy programs, nonsensical mass transit boondoggles or unsustainable increases in welfare handouts?

Who would shill for government employees who often do much less, but make much more, than many of the hard-working taxpayers who pay their salaries? Who would defend bad teachers and prevent great teachers from being paid what they're worth?

Who would push for an income tax that would devastate Tennessee's economy and send businesses and residents scurrying, or try to install nanny-state bans on everything from guns to snack foods to plastic bags?

Who would advocate for regulations, taxes and fees on businesses that would cause existing enterprises to fail and scare new entrepreneurs from coming into the state?

The answer is, no one.

Hey, wait a second ... that sounds great! Is there any way to make Chip Forrester the chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party for life?

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

Awesome Job!!! just awesome!!! You ridiculed and rubbed the Liberals/Demoncrats noses in it. I couldn't have done better my self.

This is a keeper!

August 12, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Keeper Editor for sure.

From Chip Forester, State Dem Leader, to the local Dem party fully equipped with TN Waltzers and cronies, who revel in "oh Ward and friends just made a mistake." The leadership of the Dem Party is the reason they are losing seats every election cycle.

I believe that the City of Chattanooga (Dem Pocket) elected officials are representative of what Dem's embrace, 1) mandated taxes for art (for the children of the Allied Arts board members), 2) Pilot agreements for property tax exemption for popcorn job creation for River City, 3) Accumulated bond debt of $450 million, with measures to annex to increase bond debt ceiling of 10 percent of total property assessment, to keep's all Dem in Chattanooga.

August 12, 2012 at 9:46 a.m.
una61 said...

Drew, does Harry know?

August 12, 2012 at 10:43 a.m.
rosebud said...

Well...I wouldn't count the Demos out just yet. Andy Berke, King Democrat is about to be anointed Mayor of Chattanooga. It's already been bought and paid for.

August 12, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.
aae1049 said...

LeslieNOTsmart, stop eating those sour grapes, it is very unbecoming. Please exit left field with the cat fight comments.

August 12, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.

Ah that's cute, you think that our current system of representation is actually representative.

It's not.

Do check out the elections. See the turnout. See the actual margin of voters behind any given elected official.

Give us proportional representation, and see what REALLY happens.

August 12, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
olparko said...

This is hilarious. One of your reporters calls me and I believe in the truth and total disclosure- but he only wants to talk about my health. Never once asked me about the issues. And I told him the truth and he made it sound, in your wildly bizarre and cheap yellow newspaper, like I had leprosy and was dying. He's a liar.

You, Mr. Sher, call and want me to badmouth the Democratic Party? Why? You don't need any help. This is a hate filled, confused, you drank the wrong kool-aid opinion piece. It's shocking, the venemous tone you hurl reminds of Linda Blair in the "Exorcist." Laverne was a character I played in Hollywood for 7 long years, along with many, many other characters. If your profession is acting, it's called -work. Plain and simple---work. Do you really want to cast aspersions on me for a job I held in the 80's? Really? Imply that I am as dumb as a mud fence post? Fascinating, considering journalism is held in such lofty esteem these days..

And the little Clayton boy wants to accuse me of being a socialist? Because, I approve of gays having the same rights as everyone else? Because I believe in affordable healthcare, food stamps for hungry children, and pushing the evolutionary rock uphill? I recommend a book to all of you haters that are worshipping here at the throne of this mean little hawk, Mr. Sher... It's called, "Deer Hunting with Jesus." Try to educate yourselves. Your asses are showing. This kind of regressive talk and poison idiocy embarasses me on behalf of The Great State of Tennessee. The mean spirited narrowness of this idiot article is utterly reprehensible, but to accuse The Southern Poverty Law Center of being crazier than you is beyond the bounds of common decency. I'll take Morris Dees and The Southern Poverty Law Center over you and The Chattanooga Free Times Press any day. Why don't you ya'll go join Mr. Clayton and his hate group? You'll love it! You will thrive.

August 12, 2012 at 5 p.m.
librul said...

With all due respect to the late Mr. Bageant, I would prefer a book entitled "Drew Hunting With Park". You totally nailed his a$$ to the wall. Proud to say I gave you my vote.

August 12, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.
qwerty74 said...

This editorial lost all credibility with me with the quip about Overall. If it's painfully evident that you did not do your homework about ANYTHING she has done in the past 25 years, how the heck do you expect anyone else do find you at all credible? Terrible.

August 12, 2012 at 10:55 p.m.
carlB said...

REPLY to the Editorial: The Democratic voters in Tennessee do not need your opinion or input on what the conditions of our Democratic Party are. Nor did we ask you how to correct any problems. You should be more concerned with the conditions of what is happening within the Republican Party. Chip Forrester is just one of the many Democratic workers in all of the counties in Tennessee who do not buy into your suggested Editorial of your wishful thinking and your attempt of discouraging the Democratic voters to even show up to vote. The Democratic Party is not dead here in Tennessee or on the National level. It appears that the purpose of your Editorial is to help feed a group of people who apparently want to take the path of making their life's decisions in a biased fashion, based totally on their acceptance of lies, misinformation, incomplete misleading information, and untruths? Why would anybody want to make their most important decisions, knowingly, from false information? Is this mind set that the US voters want this Republic to have? I would hope not because of what happened in the last administration's eight years when they deliberately made decisions based on false information. Apparently this anti Obama group's willingness to accept and then rewarding the people who can come up with the most false/negative misinformation against President Obama, will be accepted by the powerful group of voters who are also trying to convince the majority of the other voters to also take their same path of making decisions based on LIES?

August 12, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.
carlB said...

olparko, Hello, glad to see you up and running. The people who apparently oppose President Obama show such faulty judgment, without any reasoning and appear to be the subjects of receiving all of the Republicans' misinformation and their out right lying against President Obama. These conditions with the voters are hard to overcome because these people do not want to hear anything that even relates to "courage, cooperation, and common sense in their effort to cause the failure of President Obama. The Bradley County Democratic Party has opened it's Headquarters at 147 Inman Street in Down town Cleveland, TN. We will be open for providing information and for the registering of voters until the cutoff date. Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM from now until after the November 6, 2012 General Election has been completed. Please contact at 423 284 1215 or the Headquarter's phone 423 457 4285

August 12, 2012 at 11:41 p.m.
carlB said...

How many private manufacturing or production jobs have the Republicans helped to create and how many jobs have they prevented from being created by their obstructive tactics to cause the failure of President Obama?
Why are there a certain group of voters willing to accept that the money being supplied to the Republicans is being used to enable them to continue with their lies. misleading and FALSE information to apparently satisfy the voters who are completely biased against President Obama?

August 12, 2012 at 11:46 p.m.
carlB said...

Also another plan of the Republicans is to take away all of the bargaining rights and all employees having representation and go back to the mind set of, "it is not the role of the government" to help the people under any circumstances leaving the people at the mercy of the private sectors to fend for themselves which means they will be repressed, regressed, oppressed, depressed, digressed, and suppressed with new morality laws being passed by the government. Is the what the voters want?”

August 12, 2012 at 11:57 p.m.
fairmon said...

aae 1049 said....

I believe that the City of Chattanooga (Dem Pocket) elected officials are representative of what Dem's embrace, 1) mandated taxes for art (for the children of the Allied Arts board members), 2) Pilot agreements for property tax exemption for popcorn job creation for River City, 3) Accumulated bond debt of $450 million, with measures to annex to increase bond debt ceiling of 10 percent of total property assessment, to keep's all Dem in Chattanooga.

Add to the list the arts and crafts education department at around 2mil per year plus several other non essential actions on the councils part with no cost/benefit justification or legal requirement. To the 450mil bond debt add future unfunded pension and health care benefits and it is a staggering amount. Chattanooga is headed for the same dilemma many cities in the news recently by defaulting on their debt or raising taxes to unheard of levels.

August 13, 2012 at 12:28 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Democrats consistently present voting totals near 1/3 of the electorate in most races throughout the state. Thank you for underestimating Democrats. We look forward to the intellectual horror you experience as we re-elect President Obama.

August 13, 2012 at 9:41 a.m.
moon4kat said...

Republicans and their moneyed masters think a majority of voters are stupid enough to believe -- and be motivated by -- snide lies, distortions, hatred, and vague fairy tales of how the GOP is going to make everything better. The GOP has run itself (as well as the nation) off a cliff. Very dishonorable, and sad for all of us.

August 13, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
rcastentman said...

This settles it! I'm moving to TN! I only have one question: If there are no Democrats, who will the Free Press endorse?

August 13, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
Lr103 said...

Forrester and Sasser have nothing to apologize for or to be ashamed of. Isn't a man's word being his bond suppose to be a quality trait of the south? They both took a man to be honorable at his word and he betrayed their trust. They real shame is on the shoulders of Clatyon along with the writer of this piece who claims to be such a God loving southern gentelman.

August 13, 2012 at 7:47 p.m.
mitziyates1 said...

Hate is easy. Forgiveness, respect and working together is hard. Absolute power by any individual or entity is a mistake. Old fashioned greed, pride, wrath, sloth, lust, envy and gluttony are alive and well in our current political process. The Republicans and Democrats are vulnerable to being human and suffering from the previously mentioned sins. Let's do the hard work and find solutions to our problems.

August 13, 2012 at 9:43 p.m.

harp3339, and who causes those financial obligations to not be met?

Oh yes, bankers and their cozy friends in government.

August 13, 2012 at 11:26 p.m.
chet123 said...

Democrates Party know its impossible to win in the south with every southern baptist church demonizing them.....this is why the president just circumvented the south......too many gomers and goobers!

November 11, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.