Chief Tennessee House Democrat to step down over party rift

Chief Tennessee House Democrat to step down over party rift

November 5th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Roy Herron

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of Nashville

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Citing differences with Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron over campaign technology and political philosophy, the head of the state House Democratic Caucus on Monday confirmed reports that he intends to step down from his leadership role in late January.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville said in an interview he wants the party to move in a "more progressive, technology-oriented manner and Roy's got a sort of more conservative, traditional approach and that's just not compatible."

Turner emphasized that Herron's "my friend and Roy's a good man. And I hope he's successful. And he needs a caucus chairman who can work with him."

But Turner said the party should be embracing new technologies for identifying and motivating voters that propelled President Barack Obama to a second term last year and have led to Democratic successes in some states once dominated by Republicans.

"Obama and new technologies turned tradition and politics on its ear," Turner said.

He doesn't see Herron moving in the direction.

But Turner also acknowledged he has some political differences with Herron as well.

"I love Ned McWherter. He is my hero," Turner said of the late Democratic governor who was conservative on a number of fronts. "But I think Roy and some of the executive committee members want to go back to that time. Unfortunately ... that's not the situation we're in."

Turner raised his concerns in a state Democratic Executive Committee meeting on Saturday.

As caucus chief, Turner is a member of the executive committee and along with the Senate Democratic Caucus chairman works with the state party on joint efforts to elect Democrats.

Herron, a former state senator, was elected state party chairman last year. In recent months he has seen three of his own state party aides, including the executive director, quit with some complaining about Herron's micro-management and other issues.

Turner also took issue with Herron's decision to hire former national Democratic pollster Alan Secrest, who closed his shop in mid-2012 due to financial concerns.

Turner called Secrest a "blast from the past," then quickly added that Secrest "may be wonderful."

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550.