The other day I attended the Mid-South Community Organizers' "SCDP Chair Straw Poll," it was an opportunity for democrats to meet the candidates running for Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party and have an "unofficial" vote for the candidate of their choice.
Off the top, well done MDCO! I had a great time and coodos to the Hi-Tone for allowing it to be hosted there. I will make it an effort to patronize this establishment more often. The BBQ Chicken pizza was great!
The audience was a gathering of democratic faithfuls. The mood was cheerful and warm. It was clear people were hopeful.
The big news was that J.W. Gibson took his name out of consideration for SCDP Chair and threw his support behind Van Turner. This made it a three horse race among Jay Bailey, Lee Harris and Van Turner. This could even get down to two if rumors are true that Van and Lee are close friends and there's a "gentlemen's agreement" that if one has a clear lead the other one will step aside, but this is ONLY a rumor.
I sat down and talked with J.W. Gibson who's candidacy had been distracted with the whispers, "Is he a republican or is he a democrat?" You see in Memphis political wisdom, vision and character often take a back seat to gossip. J.W. was in good spirits when we spoke. He talked about his commitment to the Democratic Party and SCDP. He graciously praised the other three candidates and especially Van. He said, "...we need more young leaders in the party. People with passion and vision, and that person is Van Turner." As I have pointed out before J.W. Gibson is an asset to the Party, an asset we can ill-afford to lose.
Van Turner presented himself as the “guy you can trust.” He stressed his experince working in the Obama campaign, and how he went door to door meeting with the public and building relationships. Grassroots involvement is clearly something lacking within the Party. Van's relaxed and polished demeanor was well received by those in attendance.
Lee Harris sees himself as the "outsider." He focused on two things. First he is not connected to any "camp." In other words he is his own man and owed no one. Second he stressed the fact that he is willing to give the time necessary to get the job done. He praised the former chair but hinted to the fact that skill, and talent are useless if not applied.
Jay Bailey could be seen as the "scrapper." He made it clear he had no problem fighting for the party. Jay shared his years of experience in politics and how he has a plan to get the Party back on its feet. He touched on his 10-Point Plan, referring to a blueprint for moving the SCDP forward that he has been distributing. Jay mixed humor with the seriousness of the times.
After the candidates had their 15-minutes to share with the audience their hopes and goals for the Party the members of MDCO distributed ballot sheets. After counting the results Van Turner easily walked away with the vast majority of votes.
Van thanked those in attendance for their support. He praised his opponents and graciously acknowledge that this was not a scientific poll and the real vote for SCDP Chair was yet to come. But if this evening was any indication, Van Turner is in a very good position.
The touching moment came when 1st Vice Chair Cherry Davis, who had often presided over SCDP meetings in the absence of the chair, took the floor to plead for greater unity among party members. She spoke eloquently of the need for a chair that was committed and dedicated to moving the Party forward. Her words were met with a roaring applause from the audience.
As promised I plan to continue working to return this Party to its former days of glory. I invite you my readers to also help in this effort.