NASHVILLE - Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester says state Democrats are by no means giving up on congressional contests after getting their political teeth kicked in during 2010 elections.
But he acknowledges that things aren't easy with Republicans calling the shots in a redistricting process that won't take place until January.
"We're certainly talking to people in a number of the congressional district races," Forrester said. "But it is hard until you know what your playing field is going to look like to get people."
In 2010, Democrats went from controlling five of the state's nine congressional seats to just two seats, losing two open Democratic seats in the 6th and 8th Congressional Districts as well as Democrat U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis in the 4th Congressional District.
More importantly, Republicans seized total control of the General Assembly, which draws state and federal lines in the once-a-decade exercise of redistricting.
He said if a bitter GOP primary erupts in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, held by Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, that "could be helpful for a moderate Democrat."
Forrester said the 3rd, which has not had a Democratic representative since 1995, is "not a district we would write off. That is certainly on our recruiting state party radar - if we can find somebody to step up."
Meanwhile, he predicts that U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., will have problems in his 4th Congressional District re-election from state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, of Murfreesboro.
Ketron wants to put his home county of Rutherford into the sprawling district and isn't ruling out a GOP primary bid.
"It's clear to me from Ketron's legislative agenda this last session he is doing everything but officially announcing for Congress," Forrester said.
Tackling U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will be a "tall order," Forrester conceded, but noted "we are continuing to talk to people," although he isn't saying who.
Just 51.4 percent of those surveyed approved of the job Corker is doing, according to the poll of 700 people by Vanderbilt University Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. It was conducted by calling a random sample of landline telephone numbers June 3-8. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.
Another 23.3 percent disapproved of Corker's performance while 24.8 percent said they didn't know.
Three join State board of Education
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has named three people to the State Board of Education: Knoxville Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards, former executive director of the Tennessee Board of Regents' Tech Prep Programs Carolyn Pearre and TRH Health Plans CEO Lonnie Roberts.
Edwards, Pearre and Roberts are each appointed to nine-year terms. This is the second term for Pearre, whose husband, Courtney Pearre, served as legal counsel to former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist and is a veteran state Capitol lobbyist.
Edwards and Roberts are replacing Democratic appointees Richard Ray and Flavius Barker.
The board is the governing and policymaking body for the state's public and secondary education systems, dealing with areas ranging from accountability and evaluations to curriculum and teacher education.