Al Gore

National Journal looks into why Dems ‘can’t get it together’ in Tennessee

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks at a rally in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The National Journal is taking a deep dive into why Democrats have largely failed to make recent gains in Tennessee. The piece is written by reporting fellow Kirk Bado, who once interned in the state Capitol bureau for The Tennessean before going to graduate school.

The article examines why Democrats couldn’t make inroads in the 2016 election despite popular former Gov. Phil Bredesen being on the top of the ticket in the U.S. Senate race.

Bredesen failed to ride the blue wave, losing by 11 points as he carried only two counties, despite the same kinds of demographic changes that have helped other Southern states turn shades of purple. According to current projections, 30 percent of Tennesseans will be minorities by 2030. Given national trends of college-educated voters swinging further to the left, and Tennessee could be on its way to swing-state status; instead, its slate of federal officeholders are as red as those in Mississippi and Arkansas.

Democrats were right back where they started the decade: on the outside looking in.

Bado delves into Tennessee’s transition from conservative Democrats to conservative Republicans, dating back to favorite son Al Gore’s losing his home state in 2000 and the state income tax battles that occurred before and after that momentous election.

While a rightward trend since then should present an opportunity for Democrats, it hasn’t worked out that way, Bado writes:

In theory, Democrats should be well positioned to compete in Tennessee as Republicans shift further to the right. The population has increased by nearly 7 percent since 2010 on the backs of the rapid growth of the tech and health care industries, and a growing nonwhite population.

So what’s to be done? Activists like Charlane Oliver formed Equity Alliance want drastic action.

“The Democratic Party needs two things: They need a backbone and grow some balls,” she said. “Because the Republicans don’t fight fair, and you cannot bring a knife to a gunfight.”

State party chair Mary Mancini, who was elected to her third term in January, admits that her party has struggled to build a bench, failed to make Tennessee competitive, and acknowledges the dire straits the party faces. Yet she promised that Democrats are rebuilding in the state.

“We’re building a Democratic Party for the future, not just the elections coming up next November,” she said.

When asked what she will do differently to change Democratic fortunes, she seemed taken aback by the question, pausing for several silent seconds.

“That’s a really good question,” she finally said. “That’s something I’m going to have to think about a little bit.”

Read the full article here.

Teague named executive director of TN Democratic Party

Jeff Teague, the former president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, has been named executive director of the state Democratic Party. Teague was a staffer for former Vice President Al Gore and is an accomplished fundraiser.

He succeeds Jason Freeman,  who TNDP Chair Mary Mancini says “left on his own accord,” according to. the Nashville Post.  Mancini also says party restructuring has nothing to do with reported poor fundraising — including an the FEC filing that indicates the party the party ran out of money in it’s federal election account and was $18,000 in debt last month. She says the report was incorrect.

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Even with solar panels, Al Gore’s home still using 21 times national average in electricity

Despite installing solar panels after past reporting on high electricity use at his home in the fashionable Nashville suburb of Belle Meade, former Vice President Al Gore Jr. still is using 21 times as much electricity as the average American as he champions energy conservation and voices concern over climate change, according to the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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Al Gore meets Donald Trump

Former Vice President Al Gore met with President-elect Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, at Trump Tower in New York Monday morning, apparently to talk about climate change, reports The Tennessean.

The former U.S. Senator from Tennessee and former Democratic presidential candidate  said the majority of the meeting was spent with Trump.

“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect. It was a sincere search for areas of common ground. I had a meeting beforehand with Ivanka Trump. The bulk of the time was with the president-elect, Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that,” Gore said, according to pool reports.

Gore did not say what was discussed at the meeting. A senior aide to Gore confirmed to The Tennessean the meeting was about climate change.

Despite endorsing Hillary Clinton, Gore said the day after the election that he would work with Trump on climate change. “Last night President-elect Trump said he wanted to be a president for all Americans. In that spirit, I hope that he will work with the overwhelming majority of us who believe that the climate crisis is the greatest threat we face as a nation,” Gore said.

An update on Tipper Gore: Advocating, drumming and taking pictures

Tipper Gore lives mostly in Virginia these days, spends time traveling to New York and California to visit four grandchildren, continues to take photographs, advocates for those less fortunate than she and still plays drums although it’s with family members now and not on stage.

So reports Georgiana Vines in an update on the former wife of former Vice President Al Gore Jr., who  granted an interview – on condition that politics not be discussed — after giving the keynote speech at a Nashville fundraiser for Tennessee Voices for Children, a statewide organization that she founded in 1990 when services for those with mental health issues were not as available as they are today.

“I’m enjoying where I am and particularly that I’m a grandmother,” Gore said in a rare interview.

…Rikki Harris, CEO of Tennessee Voices, said a goal of $100,000 was reached (at the fundraiser). She said Gore was excitedly responsive when asked to speak.

“She wouldn’t take a dime. She paid her own expenses and bought her own table,” Harris said.

The organization serves 50,000 children, youth, families and child-serving providers. While Gore said she’s “very touched and very proud” of what Voices for Children does, 49 percent of kids and families with needs still aren’t getting services.

… The (couple’s four) children bring Tipper and Al Gore together on family occasions, sometimes to Carthage. Each has been reported by the national media as dating others.

Tipper Gore has a second home in the Santa Barbara area, where she does volunteer work on behalf of the homeless and LGBT community. She said when she visits daughter Sarah Maiani, her husband, Patrick, a musician, and their two-year-old, that she practices the drums.

“She has a full drum set. I play when I’m visiting her and her husband,” Gore said, adding. “A couple of years back, I played with Mickey Hart in Washington.” That was during an appearance of The Grateful Dead in April 2009.

She is co-chair of the advisory board of the Diana Basehart Foundation in Santa Barbara, which assists homeless and low-income people with animal care. In 2014, she had a photography exhibit at the Wall Space Gallery to support the Pacific Pride Foundation that provides services to the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities of Santa Barbara.

With the only reference to politics in the interview, Gore said that she had been asked to do photography leading up to the last election.

“I turned down the offer. I won’t say for whom. I do (photographs) for causes,” she said.