After voting with Republicans on a series of key issues including the Heartbeat Bill, LGBT rights, and School Vouchers, the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee recently voted to remove Rep. John Deberry (D- Memphis) from the ballot as a Democrat.
It was a controversial decision, but one celebrated by many Democrats who felt that despite his lengthy service, if Deberry was going to consistently side with Republicans he was no longer worthy of having the “D” by his name on the ballot.
This was not the first time this had happened – Republicans had stripped the “R” from one of their own a few years back, and recently at the last minute to ensure Glen Casada didn’t have a primary in Williamson County, claiming her Republican “Bona Fides” weren’t strong enough,
(NOTE: They never even talked to her. We did. She is plenty conservative and had voted for many Republicans.)
Because of the timing of the decision, Deberry would not have time to file to run as an independent.
Now, Senator Ferrell Haile and Rep. Tom Leatherwood, both Republicans, have a bill that seeks to change that.
The bill would extend the deadline to file as an independent for Republicans and Democrats alike if the parties decide to strip the letter from an incumbent.
We caught up with Senator Haile yesterday. He made it clear the bill would be retroactive – meaning it WOULD enable Deberry to run as an independent in the upcoming election – and was forthcoming about the fact that that was exactly the bill’s intent: To help his “personal friend” Rep. Deberry.
This is how our conversation went:
HOLLER: We heard a rumor you have a bill to extend the deadline to allow Rep. Deberry to run as an independent. Is there any truth to that?
SENATOR HAILE: “Well it’s not just Rep. Deberry. This would apply both to Democrat & Republican parties. That if they disallow someone who’s an incumbent after the filing deadline, this would allow the individual to file as an independent to run.”
HOLLER: And is it retroactive? Would it apply to Rep. Deberry?
SENATOR HAILE: “It would. 2020 going forward.”
HOLLER: Is it only for incumbents?
SENATOR HAILE: “That’s the way it’s written right now. If they don’t want him to run as their party, fine… but give that person a chance to get on the ballot.”
HOLLER: Recently in Williamson County a Republican filed to run against Ex-Speaker Casada and was kicked off the ballot because of her “Republican Bona Fides”, so this has happened before…
SENATOR HAILE: “If I’m not mistaken the timing on that was before the filing deadline.”
HOLLER: It was like the day before.
SENATOR HAILE: “Right, so she could’ve gone out and gotten 25 signatures.”
HOLLER: I guess what I’m saying is this seems to be mainly relevant to this Deberry situation.
SENATOR HAILE: “John Deberry is a personal friend of mine. And I just don’t like to see personal friends treated wrongly. And there’s an opportunity to give him an opportunity to be on the ballot. If he gets defeated, fine… but lets give the man an opportunity.”
HOLLER: So it’s fair to say this is about the Deberry situation then?
SENATOR HAILE: It’s about this, and going forward.
Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington) out of Shelby County will be carrying it in the house.