Dean and Fitzhugh on the stump: ‘It’s our turn’ and Democrats are excited

Excerpt of comments by Democratic gubernatorial candidates Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh to the Maury County Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner on Saturday night, as reported by Columbia Daily Herald Editor James Bennett:

(The piece begins with Bennett declaring there was a remarkable attitude contrast with the same event held prior to the 2016 elections — Democrats then “were walking around with their tails between their legs” while this year “Democrats were sticking out their chests and making bold predictions about 2018.”)

“I am running for governor because I believe the state of Tennessee wants a pragmatic common-sense person who is going to work on the issues that really matter to them,” said Dean, who was mayor from 2007-2015. “I do not think the people from Tennessee want an ideologue. They want someone who can work across party lines and has the experience in the executive branch, working with large groups of people to get things done.”

… Dean said his chances of winning in November look good on paper. He pointed out that the governor’s job has switched between Republicans and Democrats every eight years since 1979 — Republican Lamar Alexander (1979-1987), Democrat Ned McWherter (1987-1995), Republican Don Sundquist (1995-2003), Bredesen (2003-2011) and Republican Bill Haslam (present).

“It’s just our turn,” Dean said to applause. “We’ve got the wind at our sails. We have to run a campaign that will bring in the independents, persuade the moderate Republicans that they can correct things and change course. And we as Democrats have to turn out and turn out big.”

Fitzhugh, who trails Dean in fundraising and name recognition, said Democrats will be strengthened by strong candidates on the ballot.

“If you’re a Democrat and you’re not excited about what you’ve seen, you need to drink a little more coffee, tea or Red Bull,” Fitzhugh said.

The 24-year legislator pointed out that his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Chaz Molder, live in Columbia. They have three children. Molder is a candidate for Columbia mayor.

“I love Maury County,” Fitzhugh said. “It’s like my second home. I know some many people and have so many friends. But the real reason is the majority of my grandchildren live in downtown Columbia.”

…”I thought about them (the grandchildren) when I decided to run. I thought about what kind of world — what kind of Tennessee — would they inherit from us.

“I thought about how blessed my life has been,” he added. “This state has given me a loving family, a great education and has allowed me to run a small business.”

The politics of division bother the 68-year-old Air Force veteran. He said labels of “us versus them” allow for no compromise.

“I thought about how my grandchildren should not inherit a world more divided,” he said. “It’s a world fraught with physical, social and economic dangers, and, frankly, it’s more hateful than a world should be.

… “Just up until this year, hardly anyone would even whisper they were a Democrat,” Fitzhugh said. “Now they’re even talking in regular tones. We have made great strides.

“The one thing we have not lost is hope. Hope is what kept this nation going in their worst times. Hope is what brought us to this room tonight.”

…Attendance of more than 300 Saturday night for the Heritage Dinner was a record, Maury County Democratic Party Chairman Seth Campbell said.

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