State Rep. John DeBerry, who has represented District 90 in the state House of Representatives for 26 years, has been voted off the August party primary ballot by the executive committee of the Tennessee Democratic Party. The committee, meeting online in virtual mode Wednesday, voted 41 to 18, with two abstentions, to oust DeBerry.
The board also acted to remove four other candidates from the party’s primary ballot. They were: William Frazier, in State House District 84 seat; Michael Minnis, state House district 93; M. LaTroy Alexandria-Williams, 9th Congressional District; and Tharon Chandler, U.S. Senate.
DeBerry’s comeuppance was long in coming. Democrats, including local ones, had been vocal for years about the businessman/minister’s tendency to vote as a de facto ally of Republicans on a variety of issues, notably on bills to outlaw abortion and to legalize taxpayer-supported private-school vouchers.
Michael Minnis, who filed to run for the Tennessee State House District 93 seat, was removed without a vote of the board.
The now ex-Democratic candidate expressed himself stoically about the ouster vote: “The Tennessee Democratic Party has decided that a 26-year representative that spent 12 years as a committee chairman, conducted himself with integrity, served the party well, sponsored meaningful legislation, and built bridges across the aisle to get bills passed is no longer a Democrat. And so, I’m not," he said.
Since the two major parties have control over their own primary ballots and the deadline for filing, even as an independent, has passed, DeBerry's only option for re-election is via a write-in campaign, a very long shot. The remaining Democrats on the ballot are Torrey C. Harris, Anya Parker, and Catrina L. Smith.
State Democratic chair Mary Mancini of Nashville said, apropos the ouster of the five candidates from the party’s ballot: "After a long meeting in which we heard challenges and evidence, we did what we thought was best to protect the Tennessee Democratic Party and the values we stand for.”