'Trump Is Going To Help Us,' Tennessee Democrats Say At Jackson Day Dinner | Nashville Public Radio

'Trump Is Going To Help Us,' Tennessee Democrats Say At Jackson Day Dinner

May 8, 2016

In his keynote speech, James Carville didn’t hide his thoughts about Donald Trump.

The famed political consultant says Trump at the top of the Republican ticket is nothing but good news for Democrats.

"Trump is going to help us. There is no doubt about this. We should not kid ourselves. We're looking at a 162-year-old political party literally cracking up right in front of us," Carville said.

Trump was the talk of the Tennessee Democratic Party's Jackson Day Dinner over the weekend, and many Tennessee Democrats think the real estate mogul's apparent Republican nomination presents an opportunity for them to start regaining ground in the state.

Many Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, former President George W. Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, are distancing themselves from Trump.

Native Americans Albert Bender and Melba Chechote protest the naming of the Democrat's annual fundraiser in honor of former President Andrew Jackson. They say they became aware of the name when Democrats debated changing it last year.
Credit Chas Sisk / WPLN

Carville says that disunity will carry into Tennessee — even though Trump won the GOP primary back in March and Republican leaders in the state are lining up to support him in November.

Carville blamed Republican rhetoric in recent years for giving rise to Trump, quoting the Bible:

"You reap what you sow."

Craig Fitzhugh, the Democratic leader in the state House of Representatives, shares Carville's optimism. He predicts middle-of-the-road Tennesseans will wind up casting their votes for the Democratic nominee.

"And I think they will continue to vote that way on down the ticket," he said.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and former Mayor Karl Dean were among the speakers at the Tennessee Democratic Party's annual Jackson Day fundraiser.
Credit Chas Sisk / WPLN

Fitzhugh says pulling off just a few upsets in statehouse races would help his party. Democrats hold only about a quarter of the seats in the state legislature — so deep in the minority that they have a hard time getting their ideas on the agenda.

"We need to have enough gravitas with our votes, so that we can stop an argument, start an argument and let our voice be heard," Fitzhugh said. "Because that's part of the problem now. With the supermajority, they're just overwhelming us sometimes with their votes."

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini boasted that 114 Democrats have registered to run this year for the state legislature and Congress.

"We have so many folks that are stepping up to say, 'Enough is enough in the state of Tennessee. Enough of Tennessee Republican supermajority rule.'"

But Mancini doesn't expect to take back the reins of government this year either. She, like other Democrats, simply hopes this year might be the one in which the electoral tide finally turns.