“The Democratic Party is the party of addition. The Republican Party is the party of subtraction and division,” said Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, speaking to the JFK Club in Chattanooga on Monday.
He said, “As a nation of immigrants, all of us have been outside the mainstream at one time. But we have always been a nation of addition, adding in newcomers.” That strengthens democracy, he said.
Acknowledging the challenges the party faces in Tennessee, Mr.
Forrester noted that eight months ago the state Democratic organization embarked on the “New Path Forward,” designed to reach out to Hispanics, African Americans, labor, women and the LGBT community. “We are building the inclusive party of the 21st
century,” he said. “We will be aggressive in defending our values.”
The chairman said that 23 states, including Tennessee, have passed stringent new voter ID laws, "effectively disenfranchising possibly millions of voters." He said, “Republicans claim to be against government mandates, yet this one has resulted in thousands of elderly voters being forced to go to DMVs to retain their right to vote. Less than half of Tennessee’s counties even have a DMV office.”
Turning to the General Assembly, he assailed the GOP majority "for failing to address Tennesseans’ main concern in 2012: the economy and jobs." He said, “Instead, we’ve gotten the ‘monkey bill,” the ‘gateway to sexual activity’ bill and guns in businesses, school and parking lots.” he said.
He said in the current election cycle, Democrats are looking to preserve five “battleground” seats and looking at winning seven “take-away” seats in the House, while in the Senate, the party is aggressively protecting one seat, while also going after five “battleground” seats. He said one of those is District 10 held by retiring Senator Andy Berke. Democratic contenders are Quenston Coleman, Andrae McGary and David Testerman.
Mr. Forrester said the party has high hopes for taking the Congressional seat in District 4, and that prospects are also good for Democrats Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor in District 3. “There is a big Republican enthusiasm gap,” he said. “Republicans have overreached. Extreme right positions do not represent the majority of voters, and Democrats stand for a country where there is a level playing field, not one in which the government continues to reward the one percent, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. We will not let the American Dream disappear.”