Three vie to replace Forrester as Democratic Party chair

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 11:54am

Three new candidates are running to become chairman of the state’s embattled Democratic Party, challenging Chip Forrester’s bid for another two-year term.

Matt Kuhn, Justin Walling and Wade Munday are lobbying the party’s 66-member executive committee for the job, which Forrester held during the last election cycle when Democrats surrendered three congressional districts and 14 seats in the state House to Republicans.

“The current chairman’s defensive responses and dismissive attitude towards his critics reveal a leadership response that is at best half-awake to the present realities we face,” Munday, a former party communications director, wrote in a letter to the committee. “Aside from the recent legislative defeats, he is incapable of uniting our party. I respect his service as a loyal and faithful Democrat, but I disagree with his request to seek an extension.”

In his announcement, Justin Walling, the chairman of county chairs for the party, acknowledged his youth might hurt his candidacy.

“At age 28, I know that many of you may feel I am too young to be chairman of this party. However, my age could actually present an asset for our party. It would send a message to key demographics of Tennessee the TNDP is revived and ready to move Tennessee forward,” said Walling, a former aide to Congressman Lincoln Davis.

Kuhn, a onetime aide to Congressman John Tanner, called for a 10-year plan to rebuild the party in this state.

“We have to work diligently to replace the John Tanners, Ned McWherters, and Phil Bredesens of our brand. We have to have a 10-year strategic plan in place that rebuilds our party and regains the trust of the rural and suburban voter who has abandoned our party over the last 10 years. And as a former Shelby County chairman and campaign manager and staffer to John Tanner, I believe I know the rural and suburban voter well.”

The executive committee will meet in January to elect the new chairman. Forrester won two years ago over the opposition of Gov. Phil Bredesen and much of the party’s senior elected leadership. 

6 Comments on this post:

By: pepaw on 11/24/10 at 12:39

Over the past several years, it has been difficult to even access the state's democratic party. There has been a very low profile of candidates who have little to know name recogination state wide. Whatever the Party's agenda has been, is still a mystery to many of us democrats.
By waiting to groom the candidates until the last minute, and then not giving the support that's needed has been a mainstay of the State's Party Leadership.
Actually being able to access the State Leadership would be a positive step toward keeping the rest of the Democrats in Tennessee aware of what we're up against, and how we can be a part of the many needed changes the faces of "We" democrats to the citizens of Tennessee. And it needs to change "NOW", not wait until another election cycle is standing on our front porch, about to ring trhe door bell.
I've heard of Grass Root programs, but that's about we've seen State Wide. The Leadership of our Party must be someone who is entergetic, new ideas, and not just a figure head within the exectuvive committees. We've already had more than enough seat warmers to last a life time.

By: PKVol on 11/24/10 at 1:42

Until the state Democratic Party Leadership gets what Tennesseans want for candidates, the party will continue to lose seats to the Republicans. Tennesseans want no more than moderates filing the seats to represent them. When Republicans like Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker, Bill Haslem and Beth Harwell in key leadership roles, this is proof that Tennessee is not the Conservative bastion that Liberals think it has become. The middle is fertile ground for any candidate in Tennessee, but if you push the electorate one way or the other, it's going to go right long before it goes left.

None of these four candidates appear to have the credentials to move the TNDP in this direction, save for possibly Walling, whose age will be a detriment to him because that age will be perceived as making him too left-leaning because as an aid to Davis, his age probably jilted his ability to think like a Tennessean while holding down a job in Washington.

I find it laughable that someone who was 'Shelby County chairman' as Kuhn was would know the "rural voter well".

By: richgoose on 11/24/10 at 2:16

I like Chip Forester! He is a dweeb but dweebs have their place.

By: bettysands1 on 11/28/10 at 8:29

Don't underestimate Matt Kuhn. He played a key role in Nashville politics ten years ago. In 2000, he chaired Bill Purcell's first mayoral campaign (back when no one outside of East Nashville knew who Bill Purcell was). Before his arrival, the campaign was rudderless and had a lot of in-fighting. He provided strong leadership, organization and an even-keeled temperment. He even managed to be well-liked by everyone working in the campaign all the way through election day - which is highly unusual if you have any experience with election campaigns. This guy has legs.

By: pam harrison on 11/29/10 at 9:12

Matt Kuhn is young, energetic, knowledgeable, and definitely the kind of person we need in Tennessee Democratic politics. The same old, same old hasn't worked for years for years. We need someone who will infuse the party with some hope and forward thinking for the future if we Democrats are ever going to get a foothold back in Tennessee politics. Matt Kuhn is that person.

By: on 11/29/10 at 9:20

While I do not know these three, the Tennessee Democratic Party should be very careful to get someone who has capability, credibility and the ability to inspire/motivate.