SCDP At The Cross Road

The Shelby County Democratic Party is at its cross road. They will soon be electing a new chair for the Party and this one decision will move them forward or doom them to stagnation.

Let me state that I have not decided who I will support as the new chair. We have some very good people running. Each candidate has some strong qualities but each brings their own baggage.

There are at least four serious candidates who have let it be known that they are interested in taking on the challenge of being the next SCDP Chair. They are in alphabetical order:
Jay Bailey
J.W. Gibson
Lee Harris, and
Van Turner

Jay Bailey
Last Saturday I spent a few hours at a Jay Bailey gathering. Of all the candidates seeking to be chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party he has shown the most passion that I have seen so far. At his meeting Jay spoke about the need to engage the average citizen. He stressed that the Party had become too top down and has strayed away from its constituents. He shared his 10-Point Plan to change the Party.

Click to Enlarge

I have been a community organizer for over fifteen years. I know false sincerity when I hear it. When Jay spoke about the need to reach out to the community I could tell he was sincere. He spoke of a Party that I could be proud of.

Bottom line is that I believe Jay is sincere when he speaks of building the Party, but he must show that he can handle the more radical elements that gravitate to his team.

J.W. Gibson
County Commissioner J.W. Gibson is a smart, successful businessman who is well connected and has a leadership style that could bring some order to the Party. As a County Commissioner J.W. would have little trouble in conducting meetings and developing committees. The problem is that some question if J.W. is a real Democrat. He is a former Republican, and last year he endorsed Kemp Conrad, a Republican for City Council over Democratic and longtime IBEW head Paul Shaffer. Of course it is his right to support a Republican for office, and Kemp Conrad is a good guy, but to then turn around and say you want to be the leader of the Democratic Party may be a bit too much for some to handle. J.W. is going to have to do a lot of convincing.

Lee Harris
Lee called me the other day and we spoke for a long time. He gave solid answers to what he wanted to see happen within the Party. He stated he would focus on building SCDP's coffers and making certain that the Party finally had its own headquarters. Lee was a 2006 Congressional candidate. His campaign, though not successful, was well run. In our conversation he was frank and gave a spirit of energy and determination that was refreshing. These are qualities that could go a long way in moving the Party forward.

My concern, can he connect with the members of SCDP? Will he be able to transfer that energy into a party that has been idol for some time?

Van Turner
Of the previous three candidates that I have spoken about, not one is a member of SCDP, so their attendance, even as guests are rare. Van Turner not only attends but is the Parliamentarian of the Party. I can find little fault in Van. He is well spoken. Like Jay and Lee he is an attorney. I feel Van has avoided the "being in a click" label and is seen by most as someone who puts the Party first. The only real concern I may have is his lack of experience. Of the four candidates he has the least political experience. In a time when the Party is in such shambles experience can not be overlooked.

Well there you are. These are the four men that want to take the Party forward. This is an important time. While the Country is showing more blue, Tennessee is red. Democrats have lost power at the State level and now more then ever we need strong leadership.

Very soon I will make my decision on who I plan to support as the next SCDP chair. What I recommend you do if you care about the future of the Democratic Party is to:
- This Wednesday at 5:30p.m. attend the SCDP Straw Poll event at Hi-Tone Cafe - 1913 Poplar - and throw your support to one of the candidates.

- Attend the next SCDP meeting on Thursday, February 5th at 7p.m. in the IBEW Hall, 1870 Madison.

- March 7th at 9a.m. you want to attend the Shelby County Democratic Party Ward and Precinct Caucus; Airways Middle School 2601 Ketchum Ave. Registration begins at 9a.m. and closes promptly at 10:45a.m. - all those in line will be allowed to register. Voting for delegates begins at 11:30a.m.

For more information you can go to


Brad Watkins said...

Thanks for spreading the word on this. I am currently asking all the candidates for Chair if they would encourage their supporters to attend the DFA Training Academy- I am co hosting this April. This low cost two day workshop will have trainings on all the skills needed to run an electoral campaign or an issue based campaign. From Ward and Precinct organization, to fundraising to volunteer recruitment, this event is of great value to progressives of all strips to gather the skills needed to promote positive change here in our city and county.
So far Lee Harris has pledged his support, and I hope to hear back from the others soon.

Anonymous said...

Wow, great detail Milton! Never heard of most of them except J.W. He is a democrat now, right? People can change.

Anonymous said...

Just like everything else in Memphis SCDP is divide by race. Most whites left when it became majority black and the whites that stayed stick together. This city won't change.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Milton here is some information on “Attorney” Javier M. Bailey that you and your readers might not know and something he won’t share. This man would be a disaster if he was elected Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party!

Now you have said that you won’t allow comments that are slanderous if they can not be proven. So if you have any doubts go to this site -

The Board or Professional Responsibility for the Supreme Court of Tennessee

Javier Michael Bailey
December 2003 – June 2004 Shelby District: 9
Mr. Bailey received an actual suspension of 30 days followed by a probation of 4 years and 11 months. This suspension was in addition to a prior suspension. He had continued to practice law during the first suspension. He was not in compliance with his TLAP contract. He also allowed a confidential document under his control to be produced to a lawyer who was suing his medical employer.

Javier Michael Bailey
June 01, 2001 County: Shelby District: 9
Reinstated his license to practice, with conditions, by order entered June 1, 2001.

Javier Michael Bailey
June 07, 1995 County: Shelby District: 9
Suspended for three (3) years, with all time suspended and Bailey being on probation, except for sixty (60) days of actual suspension, upon his compliance with certain conditions, by order entered June 7, 1995. He submitted a conditional guilty plea in exchange for the stated form of discipline. The suspension specified that he shall enter a treatment center for drug addition and/or psychiatric problems and comply with whatever treatment and aftercare are recommended; shall enter a 3 year contract with Lawyers Helping Lawyers; shall have a monitor who will make quarterly reports for 3 years about Bailey's compliance and who will notify Bailey of random drug screens, making quarterly reports also about the results of those drug tests and his compliance with Lawyers Helping Lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Can you smell the dirty laundry? Memphis can't find any honest leaders because they are all messed up. Drugs, alcohol, womanizing, Chapter 13, pay-offs.

Anonymous said...

Jay Bailey - This guy has problems.
J.W. Gibson - This guy is a Republican.

The next chair is going to be Lee Harris or Van Turner. Either one will be an improvement over Norman.

Anonymous said...

OMG this guy Bailey has been disbared and what to head a democrat organization. Whats with that!

Reginald Milton said...

To Brad,
Please call on me for any help.

To 1:37 PM
Thank you and yes J.W. is a democrat.

4:10 PM
I wish I could disagree with you more, but you are right in that we do have problems. Where I draw the line is where you say the City won't change. You can't give up, and I do see change. It may be slow but there is growth.

To 8:58 AM
I did check your facts and they are accurate that is why I did not remove your comment.

Each of you will have to look at this and decide if it changes or strengthen your view of Jay.

Thank you for bring this information to light. Good or bad it is important to have all the facts.

To 9:14 AM
Once again I just can't agree with these "ALL" statements. I know many (ok, I know a few) elected officials that are not "messed up."

To 10:46 AM
Be careful with these one sentence decisions on people. They are more complicated than that.

Secretend said...

I will be supporting Van Turner. He is a young man with good values and a history of success and achievement.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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