The Tennessee Democratic Party made Murfreesboro its second stop on a statewide “The Party is Here” tour to register 200,000 voters with hopes of increasing Democratic votership in upcoming elections.
The Nashville-based TDP kicked off its run in Chattanooga on July 10. There are currently eight destinations the group plans to visit following its event at Patterson Park Community Center last Thursday.
The group’s approach at getting voters out of their seats and onto their feet took on a more literal meaning when the event opened with an invitation to dance along to the “Electric Slide”.
Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” has been selected as the organization’s anthem of choice, according to TNDP Political Director Tamara Bates.
“Everywhere we go, we play this song because we are family, right?” said Bates to a crowd of Democrat voters hoping to “flip Tennessee blue” county by county.
Bates, who previously worked on the successful Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock Senate campaigns in Georgia, was called upon at the start of this year to work alongside TNDP Chair Hendrell Remus with finding out where the unregistered voters remain in each county.
Bates’ stats show that Rutherford County has 16,328 unregistered voters.
Darlene Leong Neal, an officer for the Rutherford County Democratic Women, introduced the six speakers. Neal also serves as secretary for the Rutherford Democratic Party.
“We deserve elected officials that are working for us, not against us, who are working to improve our communities, not hurt our communities, who are going to protect our children, not harm our children. We deserve that,” said Neal. “I mean, it’s the Tennessee that we all deserve, even folks who are not in our party.”
Local organizations who showed up to support the party included Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter Murfreesboro, True You Tennessee, Boro Pride, the Tennessee Equality Club, Rutherford County High School Democrats and the Rutherford County Democratic Women.
Neal said she believes it will be the community relationships being fostered that will “push the needle forward” for blue voters.
Kelly Northcutt, the county’s party chair, said the party needs more volunteerism and more people running for office.
Northcutt also said that the county had hit new records for voter turnout during the 2020 election. The county’s total voter participation reached an all-time high of 73.8%, 44% of whom were Democrats, according to Mariah Phillips, a former candidate for the state House of Representatives in 2020 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.
Phillips expressed her frustration with the lack of commentary coming from the county’s Republican delegation about Gov. Bill Lee’s recent decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.
“These are affecting our lives every day, and it’s impacting the people that we love and the people that love us,” said Phillips, who questioned how the local school systems will open up successfully with no local mask mandate in place.
Remus said the state can prepare to see “some really great candidates” against Lee in next year’s gubernatorial race before leading a chant of “Build Back Blue.”
“I can tell you today that Rutherford County is on the cusp,” he said. “Rutherford County is ready to do something that other red counties aren’t ready to do yet.”