Tennessee Ticket http://tennesseeticket.com Voter Information and Political Commentary Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:49:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 TNDP: Reorg or reboot? http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/18/tndp-reorg-or-reboot/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/18/tndp-reorg-or-reboot/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:49:11 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8242 ]]> The Tennessee Democratic Party has some rather existential and fundamental questions to answer, and quickly.

What is a political party’s actual purpose? Is it solely to (raise money to) win elections for its nominees, regardless how (or why) they perform once in office?

Is it a bit broader than that, having a goal of advancing legislation that more or less aligns with a commonly held platform, thus relegating elections to “means” status, as opposed to “end”?

Or is it a fully engaged and powerful member of a larger social ecosystem that works at all levels to solve real problems that face all people (not limited to its membership)?

As an outsider, I sometimes get the sense that those in the major political parties’ core operating units (local, state, and national) develop pretty severe tunnel vision. That they, you know the saying, can’t see the forest, or even the trees. I could be wrong. And we’ll deal with the GOP in a different post. For now, let’s talk about Democrats in Tennessee.

Their electoral fortunes have been staggeringly miserable over the past several years. But is that the disease, or just a symptom? Can they blame it all on U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, or President Barack Obama, or the Republicans? Should they look internally to see what dysfunctions might be standing in their way?

A nominating panel just came up with three names to recommend to the State Executive Committee as potential party chairs. Terry Adams, Rep. Gloria Johnson, and Mary Mancini made the cut; Lenda Sherrell did not.

Again, I’m on the outside looking in, but allow yourself to imagine that that very perspective lends someone an ability to troubleshoot root causes and recommend solutions.

Imagine further that a political organization that adopted an “outside-in” view—from the “customer’s” (i.e., citizen’s) perspective, instead of from central office looking outward—could collaborate with ordinary people to refurbish its purpose and vision, use that to craft a strategy for fulfilling that vision, and recruit hordes of eager volunteers (and, yes, donors) to execute that strategy, all the while keeping in close contact with the very public on whom it depends. It could happen.

I don’t have a proverbial dog in the hunt for TNDP chair. What compounds my apathetic stance further is my belief that it may not matter which one of the nominees gets it. The issues facing the SEC and the party at large are systemic; they run to the bone marrow. It would seem shortsighted to lodge all one’s hopes in the belief that a single executive (or even the SEC itself) could engineer a turnaround. To do that, the party actually needs a direction first.

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Hamilton County Republicans mourn longtime leader Harold Coker http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/16/hamilton-county-republicans-mourn-longtime-leader-harold-coker/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/16/hamilton-county-republicans-mourn-longtime-leader-harold-coker/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 14:01:42 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8240 ]]> Local GOP stalwart and benefactor Harold Coker has died. Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Tony Sanders sent this message to the party’s email list:

It is with great sadness that I send this email out this morning. Harold Coker passed away this morning at 5:30am. Hamilton County has lost a great man and friend to all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lill, Corky and the entire Coker family.

We will let you know details when arrangements have been made.

Sincerely,

Tony Sanders

Coker was a member of the Hamilton County Commission for two decades. In 1988 he unsuccessfully ran for the Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, against Marilyn Lloyd.

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A Page from the book of campaign trail insights http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/12/a-page-from-the-book-of-campaign-trail-insights/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/12/a-page-from-the-book-of-campaign-trail-insights/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 22:34:19 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8238 ]]> Former long-shot independent U.S. Senate candidate Danny Page sent a thank-you to his supporters that included this tidbit of revelation:

The campaign on the outside looked like a meager attempt to unseat a career politician that needed to be unseated. On the outside it was ludicrous and unfruitful. As humans we look on the outward appearance and I’ll agree that on the outside it was sad. What I happened to be privy to is the inside; the inside fruit that was produced both in my spirit and in hundreds if not thousands of others. Personally I moved from being a hard line “my way or the highway” conservative to an American hell bent but heaven sent to fight for your liberty no matter where you fall on the political scale. I learned full well that America is a land of the free, a bastion of liberty and we must maintain that for future generations. If we choose not to embrace liberty, if we don’t want liberty, we must keep this Republic so that the next generation can make the choice to enjoy liberty for themselves.

(emphasis added)

Page, an electrician by trade, is an example of someone answering the call for ordinary citizens to enter the electoral process. He didn’t come close to winning, but it seems he learned a bit along the way. If he can do it, so can you.

The knock-on effect is that those in Page’s circle of influence might be more apt to examine future election contestants beyond just what’s presented on the surface. If more people sign up as serious participants on the ballot, then that groundswell of informed, critically-thinking voters only grows.

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Turnout for what, indeed http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/08/turnout-for-what-indeed/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/08/turnout-for-what-indeed/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 16:23:02 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8235 ]]> Tennessee can claim to be better than Texas at several things, but this one is a dubious honor: the Volunteer State’s 2014 voter turnout was estimated 49th in the nation by FiveThirtyEight, right behind Mississippi’s and ahead of only Texas’.

The state with the highest anticipated turnout percentage? Maine, followed by Wisconsin and Alaska.

Pith in the Wind has the chart.

The next available chance to redeem ourselves will be sometime in the first quarter of 2016—tentatively March 1st, which is when “Super Tuesday” is likely to occur. (That’s along with, bizarrely enough, the Hamilton County Assessor of Property election. You know that will draw out the voters.)

Let’s do better, shall we?

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Unbeaten Lamar http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/06/unbeaten-lamar/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/06/unbeaten-lamar/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 21:35:02 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8233 In case you didn’t see it, here’s video of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s acceptance speech.

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Vote, Tennessee! http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/04/vote-tennessee/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/11/04/vote-tennessee/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:30:04 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8229 ]]> Don’t forget or abandon your privileged duty today.

A few resources for finding out where to vote and who’s running:

  • GoVoteTN.com – Great new site from the Tennessee Secretary of State. Use the web app or download a mobile app for your preferred OS
  • Nooga.com election guide – Just enter your address and find links to information about the candidates. Best results are for Chattanooga and Hamilton County voters.
  • Tennessean.com’s Politics section has links to several area voter guides

Inform yourself and vote. In that order. Thanks!

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Fleischmann, Headrick face off again http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/10/28/fleischmann-headrick-face-off-again/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/10/28/fleischmann-headrick-face-off-again/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:31:24 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8227 ]]> http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/10/28/fleischmann-headrick-face-off-again/feed/ 0 Will the 2016 presidential debates include more than two candidates? http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/25/will-the-2016-presidential-debates-include-more-than-two-candidates/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/25/will-the-2016-presidential-debates-include-more-than-two-candidates/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:04:21 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8222 ]]> They will, if 2012 Libertarian Party nominee and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson can help it. The Free and Equal Elections Foundation, which hosted its own alternative debates in 2012, says it is supporting a lawsuit filed by Johnson against the Commission on Presidential Debates.

While it could be difficult for the plaintiff to prove harm, this case will be interesting to watch.

After all, won’t you get more out of the 2016 debates if qualified candidates other than Hillary and [someone possibly with the first or last name “Paul”] are allowed to present their variations on a path toward a greater America?

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Voter Guides update http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/04/voter-guides-update/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/04/voter-guides-update/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:25:58 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8217 ]]> I’m taking down the candidate pages due to inaccuracies that can’t possibly be remedied in time. Plus, they’re not very helpful.

You can find lists of candidates at the Secretary of State’s website, which is also where you can find contact information for your county election commission.

Many news outlets across the state are providing online voter guides. Here are some examples:

Know of others? Kindly leave a link in the comments.

I hope to have MyTicket online soon. Bear with me.

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Announcing a new feature: “MyDistricts” http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/28/announcing-a-new-feature-mydistricts/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/28/announcing-a-new-feature-mydistricts/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:43:53 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8213 ]]> Hi, reader. A long list of valid reasons has detained me from updating this site and writing political columns, but with the August election so near, I wanted to share with you the latest and get your feedback on current state and future plans for MyTicket, a new app that will help voters with their choices at election time.

This is no ordinary project. Were it a startup aimed at making a profit, the relatively low number of people who clicked to sign up would have killed it. But it’s not a startup.

And I’ve done research to make sure I wasn’t just “reinventing the wheel,” and haven’t found a tool that provides the same services as promised by our vision for MyTicket.

So let’s catch up.

If you’ll remember, some months ago I published a prototype that conceptually lays out how MyTicket would work.

Since then, I have been building a database that will hold all of the potential elections, contests, offices, districts, candidates, and candidate details; and I have populated that database with much of the basic information, thanks to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office providing the data.

While I still don’t have all the hooks built to fetch the info from the database, I reached an important milestone this weekend. As you know, in order to personalize the experience to show just your ballot information, the app needs to know your district IDs. Many people aren’t able to supply these, and therefore many online voter guides fall short of being the most helpful. Using the Google Civic Info API that’s powered by the Voting Information Project, I can now obtain all federal, state, and local districts—down to your town council—with the simple input of a residential address.

I invite you to try it out. Enter an address like “123 Main St, Anywhere, TN” (without the quotes and using a real address, of course).

OK, so this doesn’t get us very far. Several sites already do this lookup, but they only bring back current officeholders, not candidates who are contesting the seats. And they don’t go down to local elections. But this service can be used as a first step before using a voter guide like the Chattanooga Times Free Press’s or even the sample ballots published by your local election commission. It’s not the end product, but it’s a start.

What I’m working on next:

Instead of just showing your districts on the page, they will be used in the background to locate the offices and candidates that belong to them (along with ballot questions, such as judicial retention and referenda). That will be the next milestone: just showing the static election data that belong to you, without any further interactivity.

Future plans include the ability to save your preferences; to remove candidates you’re sure you don’t want to vote for and just leave those you’re deciding among; and, somewhere out there, the ability for voters and campaigns to enter and select details about themselves so that a “match.com”-style compatibility check could be done. But first things first.

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