Letter: No Party Infighting Here

I want a strong, vibrant Democratic Party in Tennessee, a party equipped with the tools and leaders it needs to successfully advocate for equality, fairness and opportunity.

So for many months now, I have been working with a group of concerned Democrats to identify candidates for the state Democratic executive committee who will commit to do three things if elected:

1. They will be integrally involved in identifying, recruiting and mentoring prospective candidates for elected office in Tennessee;

2. They will be committed to making financial donations to and raising money for the TNDP at minimum of $1,000 per year; and

3. They will be active in the county parties that comprise their executive committee districts, providing guidance, support and nurturing those county parties, and that they will be active in the state party and its long-term effort to rebuild our party.

Despite widespread support of these efforts from grassroots Democrats, rumors, gossip, and mistruths have circulated about my involvement in recruiting candidates to run for the state Democratic executive committee. ["Party Purity," Frank Talk by Frank Cagle, March 27, 2014] Many of the candidates are running for seats currently open as a result of redistricting, and a few are challenging sitting executive committee members.

The main assumption is that these efforts are to position myself to run for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party in January of 2015.

Let me first say unequivocally: I am not a candidate for chair for the TNDP, WILL NOT be a candidate for TNDP chair, and will not accept a draft or nomination of any kind in 2015. Period.

The second assumption is that my efforts to recruit Democrats, who will help us rebuild our state party, are an effort to remove current TNDP Chairman Roy Herron or to thwart him from running for reelection in 2015. None of these assumptions are true.

While I did not support Roy's candidacy for TNDP chair, immediately upon his election, I met numerous times with him, talked regularly with him and pledged my full support for the growth of the TNDP. I even used my own relationships to secure Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as the keynote speaker for Jackson Day in 2013.

Let me put these rumors to rest.

Recruiting tomorrow's leaders has nothing to do with the current chair, but rather these efforts reflect a commitment to strengthening our party for the future.

We made important incremental gains in 2012, and it is essential that all Democrats focus on protecting those incremental gains: Representatives Gloria Johnson, Harold Love, Darren Jernigan, Jason Powell, and Bo Mitchell—our talented new freshman class.

We must also identify those "blue dots" across Tennessee where we might pick up seats in 2014, 2016, and beyond.

We cannot have a strong state party without good, involved leadership throughout the state.

Setting the record straight: All I want is a strong, vibrant Democratic Party in Tennessee.

Chip Forrester