Bredesen, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones talk bipartisanship at Democratic fundraiser; $450K collected

In Saturday night speeches to the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Three Star Dinner, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and former Gov. Phil Bredesen struck similar themes, saying a willingness to work with Republicans is the way to change Democrats’ political fortunes in the Volunteer state. Party officials say about $450,000 was raised at the event in Lebanon.

From The Tennessean report:

“I don’t think Alabama and the South are ruby red,” Jones said. “This is time to elevate good people to our state offices and Washington. There can be a state of change in Tennessee.”

The Democratic senator defeated Republican Roy Moore in a closely watched special election last year that drew national attention. His victory has given hope to Democrats elsewhere in the Republican dominated South that they too can win. 

…He said he felt voters were tired of polarization and that he came to the Senate to find common ground. 

“That’s the only way we are going to get things done,” he said. “I have partnered with my Republican colleagues to do that. But we have an obligation to stand by our principles with civility.”

…”Our opposition shouldn’t be our enemy,” Jones said. “People all over the country want to see their elected officials working together. His opponent isn’t going to do that.”

“Today, as the senator of Alabama, I ask my staff who have we heard from and what can we do for them,” Jones said. “That’s how you get elected in Alabama. That’s how you get elected in Tennessee, even if you don’t have all the answers.”

Bredesen introduced Jones at the dinner and said the Alabama senator is “focused on kitchen-table issues.”

“That’s what anyone ought to do,” Bredesen said. “That’s how anyone should operate in the U.S. Senate.”

The Times-Free Press reports Bredesen told cheering Democrats that the party has had “a bit of a dry spell” in recent elections that will “come to an end” in 2018 and said “I’m going to open some doors and pave the way for this next generation.”

Excited Democrats said Saturday the “stars have aligned” with the “most credible candidates” they’ve fielded in a dozen years heading their ticket as Bredesen runs for U.S. Senate and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh vie for the party’s gubernatorial primary.

…State Party Chair Mary Mancini said about 1,000 people attended the event, raising an estimated $450,000, the most successful event in several years.

“We have over a thousand Democrats from across the state tonight, and they’re up and ready to go out and win some elections. We sense some opportunity in Tennessee and we’re going to make sure that we take advantage of that opportunity.”

…Abbi Sigler, a Blackburn spokeswoman, said Jones “tried to paint himself as a moderate, but as soon as he got to Washington, he fell right in line with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. That’s exactly what Tennesseans expect from Phil Bredesen.”

She said a “vote for him is a vote for the policies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Tennesseans know they can trust Marsha Blackburn to represent their values in the United States Senate.”

Earlier, Bredesen, a former Nashville mayor, said in an interview that “I think my whole history has been to cool down party politics,” noting that in areas ranging from health care to education, he had pushed issues “contrary” to party issues.

Press release from Tennessee Democratic Party

June 18, 2018 (LEBANON, Tenn.) — On Saturday, more than 1,000 Tennessee Democrats from across the state gathered in Lebanon to Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, and Fight for the Future at the 2018 Three Star Dinner and Celebration.

Attendees heard from elected leaders and candidates, paid tribute to Democratic accomplishments of years past, and got fired up to use every moment from now until November 6 to work hard to elect more Democrats up and down the ballot.

Keynote speaker U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama addressed the crowd, speaking to the opportunity to restore Democratic values to all levels of government.

“Thanks to each of you, we are once again loudly proclaiming the values we have held for generations,” Sen. Jones said. “Decency, honesty, dignity, and respect. Giving hate no safe harbor and leaving no one in our society behind.”

Jones said his victory and the coming election is proof that Republicans don’t have a permanent hold on the South.

“I believe we can show the country that we embrace the change we see in our diverse communities — that we have pride in a way of life that values people,” Jones said.

Former two-term governor and U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said he’d join Senator Jones in focusing on “kitchen-table issues” in the Senate so that others can experience Tennessee as a land of incredible opportunity, as it was for him.

“I’m going to open doors and pave the way for this next generation,” Bredesen said. “I need your help — but I’m not going to pay it back. I’m going to pay it forward, and be the best damn senator you’ve ever laid your eyes on.”

Democratic candidates for governor Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh also addressed the crowd, focusing on capitalizing on the energy of this moment and remembering what we’re fighting for.

Dean, former Mayor of Nashville, stressed the importance of expanding Medicaid, saying “Our state has lost $4 billion and left hundreds of thousands of people without healthcare access,” Dean said. “Let’s be a state that lives up to our values.”

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh spoke to the energy of Democrats around the state stepping up to run for office and volunteer.

“People are fighting back against what once were overwhelming odds,” Fitzhugh said. “At the end of the day, this election is about people. People matter.”

All told, the Tennessee Democratic Party raised more than $450,000 and saw a record number of attendees. Combined with investments from the DNC totaling more than $125,000, it’s clear that Tennessee is a “state of opportunity,” as Senator Jones put it.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini said the quality of the candidates and the commitment of Democrats stepping up across the state is a sign of good things to come this fall.

“We have more than 100 candidates running for legislative seats, fantastic candidates in all nine congressional races, and top-tier candidates for the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races,” Mancini said. “Our message — that no matter who you are, where you live, or what you look like, you deserve the opportunity to create a better life for yourself and your family — is resonating all across the Volunteer State. We celebrate Saturday night’s success and now we’re getting back to work to ensure we reach every possible Democratic voter in November. It’s a good year to be a Tennessee Democrat.”

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