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Look what just happened to Tennessee's legislature (and why we'll never know why) [View All]

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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-03-10 06:35 PM
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Look what just happened to Tennessee's legislature (and why we'll never know why)
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Edited on Wed Nov-03-10 07:02 PM by Fly by night
Most of y'all here know Tennessee's recent election integrity-related history:

--- our hosting of the National Election Reform Conference in Nashville (April, 2005) on which the documentary "UMCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections" was based;

--- our three-year, grassroots-inspired campaign to pass a paper ballots law (the TN Voter Confidence Act) overwhelmingly in 2008 (but only after a compromise with Republicans to delay implementation to 2010);

--- the "unexpected" 2008 seizure of our state legislature by Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction (and only by winning EVERY open seat in our legislature from Memphis to Mountain City);

--- having the TVCA challenged immediately by them thereafter and then (once again) having the law delayed until 2012;

--- and the puzzling and perhaps predictable series of incredible election results beginning and continuing thereafter (e.g., Shelby County in August).

As a result (and extension) of all that, here is what happened in Tennessee last night in our state's legislature, and why (conveniently for, and as a consequence of, our state's Republicans) we'll never know why. The discussion below is about the continuing incredible red shift in our state legislature, as presented to us by unverifiable voting machines that, by law, should not have been used in this election.

Though this thread does not discuss it, our US Congressional delegation also went from 5-4 Dem to 7-2 Republican. We expected two of those losses but not the loss of the most DINO DINO I know (Lincoln Davis) to a mentally unstable (and pug-ugly) reich-wing neophyte.

(We deserved to lose the Governor's race, but that's another thread.)

Let me stress: I am not arguing that Tennessee Democrats, state and federal, were not at risk this year or that some losses were not expected. But when the projections were for two or three lost seats and THEY PICKED UP 14 (and from some very surprising quarters), well ....

Go figure (or review the usual suspect below and the evidence trail above). FBN

-------

I. From the Nashville Scene blog last night and this morning, to give you a sense of the ferocity of the far-right shift in surreal time: (This is posted here with permission.)

http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/11/02 /...

Voters Paint State House Red: GOP Grabs 64-Seat Majority
Posted by Jeff Woods on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 8:26 PM

Update: Columbia's Ty Cobb and Harriman's Dennis Ferguson are the first state House Democratic incumbents to go down tonight. Both lost to womenCobb to right-wing Christian author and motivational speaker Sheila Butt and Ferguson to Julia Hurley, an ex-Hooters waitress whose campaign probably took off like a rocket when this picture of her circulated in the district.

Update II: Republican David Alexander has beaten Democratic Rep. George Fraley of Winchester.

Update III: Another House Democrat loses: Cookeville's Henry Fincher has been defeated by the GOP's Ryan Williams. The president poisoned the well, the always quotable Fincher says. State-wide people just arent voting for Democrats.

Update IV: Don Miller has defeated Larry Mullins to give Republicans another House seatthe one vacated by Democrat Rep. John Litz.

Update V: Seven more Democrats appear to have lost in the HouseLes Winningham, Butch Borchert, Judy Barker, Mark Maddox, Eddie Yokley, Jim Hackworth and Stratton Bone. Republicans now have gained a whopping 12 seats. That would give the GOP an invulnerable 62-seat majority.

Update VI: The GOP gains two more seatsSam Coleman has conceded to Jim Gotto in the race to succeed Ben West in the state House from Hermitage. And Murfreesboro's Kent Coleman has lost to Mike Sparks.

Update VII: In a big surprise, Doug Jackson has become the only Senate Democrat to lose. Champion of the guns-in-bars law, Jackson was the freakiest of all gun freaks in the legislature, but it didn't save him from the Republican wave.

Update VIII: GOP chairman Chris Devaney"For the first time in modern history, Republicans are going to lead at every level of government in this state. This is truly a historic day and Republicans are honored that voters have put their trust in our party to lead Tennessee.

State House GOP leaders are predicting an even bigger-than-expected night for Republicans. "I think we will" do better than the two- or three-seat gain that many were predicting for Republicans in the state House, Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) says.

----

II. This is the Scene's post-election blog thread this morning: (This is a very comprehensive and revealing interview that all y'all should read.)

http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/11/03 /...

If Gandhi Were a Democrat, Would He Lose Too?
Posted by Jeff Woods on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM

A shell-shocked Mike Turner, chairman of the state House Democrats political caucus, sat down with reporters this morning to try to explain what the hell happened to his party in yesterdays elections. Surprising even themselves, Republicans gained a whopping 14 seats in the House and took a 64-seat majority. The silver lining for Democrats? No need to worry about gerrymandering anymore. Voters took care of that.

The election left only nine House Democrats from the hinterlands, all but decimating the partys once-mighty rural presence. Survivors have been cornered in cities, and 15 of the 34 remaining House Democrats are black.

In typical Tennessee Democratic fashion, Turner conveniently blamed the whole disaster on unpredictable swings in voter passion.

If Mahatma Gandhi had been a Democrat yesterday, he probably would have gotten killed if he was in the wrong district, Turner said. Its just a tough time to be a Democrat right now.....

Q: What were you most surprised about?

Turner: I was totally shocked at Jim Hackworth and Stratton Bone. I didnt see either one of those coming at all. As a matter of fact, Jims probably got a lot of money left in the bank to be honest about it. Mark Maddox too. That was totally off the radar screen. I didnt see that one coming at all. Mark just got elected president-elect of the NCSL, which is a national organization that he will no longer be able to serve as. We lost some real good legislators. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, I think most people at the end of the day would like to see good quality people in these positions. We lost some real good ones yesterday....

(Again, visit the link and read a very comprehensive, and incredulous interview with a shell-shocked Dem leader in our legislature. It will not be pretty, but it will sound familiar.)
------

III. This is my response (posted on the Gandhi blog post at the above link. Y'all come and say something your own selves at the same place):

If we keep voting on the same equipment, then -- yes -- Gandhi, Lincoln, even Jesus would likely lose TN elections if they had Ds by their names. Stranger things have happened (like Shelby County, August 2010).

Riddle me this: This is the second straight TN election when the intensity of the right-shift has surprised everyone -- political scientists, pundits, even the Republican spokespeople themselves. The second straight election where long-term, local, well-respected, well-connected moderate to conservative rural Dems have gotten rick-rolled in numbers that defy reasonable explanation.

What are "they" surprised about?

-- That a state with 8% more citizens self-identifying as Democrats than Republicans would vote like just the opposite OR

-- That the people programming the voting machines would be so audacious --- again.

Fortunately for "them" (and specifically because of "them"), we have no way of knowing.

"It's not who casts the votes that counts. It's who counts them."

(Joseph Stalin said something of the sort. Tennessee Republicans know what he meant.)
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