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Outgoing Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester sent his final message to grassroots activists Friday. Forrester’s four-year tenure as head of the state party lead to significant improvements in fundraising and voter contact infrastructure. In his second term, Democrats successfully protected all incumbents in the state House and helped elect five new Democrats to the General Assembly.
Forrester’s term ends on Saturday with the election of a new chairman at the Winter Meeting of the Democratic State Executive Committee in Nashville in the State Capitol House Chambers.
Forrester’s full letter is below:
Fellow Democrats –
As I come to the end of my four-year term as Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, I cannot help but feel nostalgic and slightly wistful that this ride is coming to an end on Saturday. And what a ride it has been!
My chairmanship winds down this week just as I have returned from a thrilling visit to Washington, D.C. where I participated in the Swearing-In of President Barack Obama for another term. I cannot tell you what pride I felt as I witnessed our President, hand on the Bible, taking the oath of office once again. I was moved to tears listening to his eloquent and impassioned speech in which he described a Democratic vision for what America can and ought to be. And while Tennessee did not post a win for the President, we can all be proud of the work done to help him win in battleground states and the contributions we made to fuel his victory.
As our President begins his second term, my term as Chairman will draw to a close with the election of my successor in the state House Chambers on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Having served longer than any Chairman in modern Tennessee history, there is plenty to reflect on. With the financial investment of donors, large and small, we built the most robust and effective campaign operation in our Party’s recent history. Together, we:
- Elected five NEW Democratic state representatives, including Gloria Johnson, Bo Mitchell and Darren Jernigan, all of whom won races in districts drawn by Republicans to favor Republicans;
- Took out an extreme right-wing Republican incumbent;
- For the first time in years, helped protect every Democratic incumbent in the State House;
- Built a sophisticated voter contact operation that made more than 500,000 door knocks and phone calls;
- Updated and expanded our fundraising database with 21st century technology that will provide for more efficient fundraising for every chairman henceforth;
- Modernized voter targeting with the latest methods for tracking voters and voting patterns, an update that will forever improve phone calls and door-to-door contacts for all Democratic candidates; and
- Invested in message development and delivery that held Republicans accountable online and in the media.
It is true that Tennessee has trended Republican recently, but our slide into this electoral pit was a slow, painful 10-year process. And certainly, it will take us multiple election cycles to regain Democratic majorities that will stand up for working and middle class Tennesseans, rather than the privileged few.
That is why the electoral goals we put in place in 2012 — to build a more inclusive and unified party, 21st century voter outreach, and a more aggressive defense of our values — are so important to our future. I am confident that together, remaining true to the values the define us as Tennessee Democrats, we will once again be leading our state.
Many of you have asked what I will be doing after these four years as Chairman. And I must admit, I do not exactly know. I plan on spending some time with my son Evan who lives in China, and when I return stateside, I’ll consider my future options.
No matter what, I will continue to be deeply involved in our Party and will support our new chairman in whatever capacity I can be of most value in moving Tennessee forward.
Finally as I end this term, I want to say “Thank You” to those of you who supported us financially, to those who volunteered their time and talents, and to those friends I have made as I traveled all across this state from Mountain City to Memphis for Democratic bean suppers, campaign rallies, fundraising events and just good old Democratic fellowship.
It is because of all of you that I do this. All I ask is that you continue to stay involved, give of your time, talents and treasure and help Tennessee become the bright blue state that its citizens deserve.
May God bless all of you and guide your actions together.
With deep thanks,
Tennessee Democratic Party
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