NASHVILLE — After getting walloped in the Nov. 6 election, Tennessee’s remaining seven Senate Democrats huddled together for their leadership contests today, and current Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis narrowly staved off a challenge.
Kyle won a fifth term over fellow Memphis Democrat Reginald Tate in a 4-3 vote.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson was reelected without opposition.
Democrats lost six of their 13 seats this month after new district lines were drawn by majority Republicans earlier this year. The GOP further flexed its might with huge fundraising advantages. Republicans now have 26 seats in the 33-member chamber.
Asked today whether Tate’s challenge was an indication of division among remaining Democrats over their direction, Kyle said, “I don’t think so. But again, since I haven’t spoken to anyone I can’t say that’s the cause at all.”
He acknowledged there may have been some friction over the GOP-controlled redistricting.
The original Republican plan put Kyle’s home in a Republican-dominated dominated district. He lobbied GOP leaders, who then placed Kyle in a redrawn Democratic district with then-Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, which included a good portion of Kyle’s old district. Kyle defeated Marrero in the August Democratic primary.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...