It Likely Will Get Worse

Tennessee Democrats took a major hit in 2012—the number of Democratic senators in the state Legislature dropped to seven. It appears that it is going to get worse.

State Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis, the longtime Democratic leader, has expressed interest in an open seat for probate judge back home. His co-leader, state Sen. Lowe Finney, is said to be considering a run for mayor of his hometown of Jackson. Finney is chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. That would remove the two top and most experienced leaders of Senate Democrats.

West Tennessee has been trending Republican and Democrats who have retired have been replaced by Republicans. Though Kyle, from Memphis, would likely be replaced by a Democrat, Finney could be replaced by a Republican.

State Sen. Charlotte Burks, from Putnam County, is the only Democratic senator east of Nashville. If she retires, as some people expect, she will likely have a Republican replace her.

State Sen. Doug Henry, in his 80s, represents Belle Meade and West Nashville, and with his retirement he will likely be replaced by a Republican.

(All four Democratic state senators who retired in 2012 were replaced by Republicans, including current Tennessee Democratic Party chair Roy Herron.)

The Democrats will likely be down to four senators and without their most experienced leaders.