To the editor:
In the Tennessee General Assembly, statehouse representatives have a limited number of bills they can submit each session, typically 15.
Last session, priorities were shuffled to the back burner due to COVID-19 and many lawmakers are bringing back their bills from before the pandemic or introducing new bills that address needs that have arisen due to these unprecedented times.
However, strangely, District 63 Rep., Glen Casada, has decided to introduce HB 0909, which sets to “prohibit a political party from considering an incumbent legislator’s legislative voting history when determining whether a candidate is a bona fide member of that party for purposes of appearing on the ballot.”
This bill is frivolous and addresses a problem that doesn’t exist. It clearly was inspired by the Tennessee Democratic Party removing Rep John DeBerry of Memphis from the Democratic primary ballot in 2020.
As one of the two TNDP state executive committee members representing Williamson County, I voted to remove DeBerry, a vote that passed 41-18.
While many of us voted for removal for a variety of reasons — his acceptance of campaign funds from Republican lawmakers, support of bills that conflict with the Democratic platform and other actions — it’s a political party’s responsibility to decide who holds its banner and claims to be a Democrat or a Republican. Additionally, we are not required to provide a reason for our vote, though we happily speak with our constituents.
After DeBerry was removed, the GOP supermajority General Assembly quickly passed legislation that allowed DeBerry to run as an independent, which he did.
His campaign was funded by Republican lawmakers and conservative PACs. Despite this, Democrat Torrey Harris defeated DeBerry 77% to 23% in November, thus proving the TNDP’s state executive committee was correct in believing that the district wanted Democratic representation over DeBerry representation.
Casada should focus on the issues that Williamson Countians care about and would benefit from. I can tell you that no Williamson County Democrat who I represented on the state executive committee contacted me to support DeBerry. Many, however, voiced their support for removal.
While I cannot claim to know why Casada is wasting our opportunities on this bill, I suspect it’s to win back some favor from the House GOP.
In 2019, he received a vote of no confidence as speaker and was forced to step down after a string of inappropriate, misogynistic and racists texts between him and his chief of staff. Just a few weeks ago, his home was raided by the FBI, and as we wait for more information on the investigation, it takes little effort to deduce that he’s in the doghouse with his colleagues.
At the end of the day, however, he was elected to serve District 63 and Williamson County, not himself or the GOP caucus. He should make amends by doing a good job for his constituents and improving the lives of everyday Tennesseans, not his cronies.
Williamson County Democratic Party chairman