Battle for Soul of Party Continues

The battle over chair of the state Democratic Party last weekend may be mirrored when Knox County picks a new chair to succeed state Rep. Gloria Johnson when she gives up the post.

Former state Sen. Roy Herron, elected Saturday, only got one vote out of four from the Knox-area delegation. His opponent, David Garrison, was also supported by Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. Many progressive Democrats view Herron as a conservative "Republican lite" Democrat. When the Knox County Democrats meet in April to pick a new chair, the choice may be between a progressive Garrison supporter or someone supported by Herron.

The basic debate among Democrats is whether to embrace a progressive agenda and those Democrats who think the best approach to winning back power in Red State Tennessee is to include support for pro-gun, pro-life candidates in conservative districts. The debate has raged on local blogs like KnoxViews and blogs statewide. Herron, who represented a rural Democratic district, has been criticized by progressives for his conservative voting record.

The outcome of the Knox County Democratic Party chair election depends on who gets the most delegates to a Saturday convention.