As Shelby County Commissioners prepare for Monday’s meeting, local Democratic party chairman Van Turner has weighed in on the resolution the deals with county partisan primaries.
Republican commissioner John Pellicciotti is sponsoring the resolution which urges local leaders of both parties to do away with the primaries.
Here is Turner’s response in full:
I will be unable to attend the Shelby County Commissioner’s meeting this afternoon. As you know, I have been busy the last couple of days. When the issue of ending Democratic primaries was presented to the Shelby County Democratic Party’s Executive Committee last year, it was soundly defeated. I do not suspect that much has changed since that time as it relates to this issue. As you know, it is up to both of the respective Executive Committees for the Republican Party of Shelby County and the Shelby County Democratic Party to determine if it will hold primary elections.
The other issue that I saw was timing. The next county-wide elections are due to take place in 2012. As far as I can tell right now, the only scheduled elections for 2011 are municipal elections after November 2nd. So, I really don’t see the need to address this issue right now. Anyway, I will discuss this matter and the results of today’s vote with the SCDP Executive Committee at the next scheduled meeting on September 2, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the IBEW (1870 Madison). Regardless of what happens today, ultimately, we all know that it is up to a majority vote of the respective Executive Committees to request primaries, and I don’t think the SCDP Executive Committee will vote to end primaries.
Now, more specifically to the Commissioners, I appreciate your service this past term. I know that there have been many controversial issues that you have worked through, and the citizens of Shelby County are all the better for you putting in the time and effort to do so. I send well wishes to the outgoing Commissioners, and I extend a hearty welcome to the incoming Commissioners. I look forward to working with everyone to make Shelby County better for everyone.
Turner’s response follows an op-ed piece in the Memphis Flyer by former local Democratic party chairman Matt Kuhn. Kuhn called for the primaries to be abolished.
Both local parties had intense internal debates before Republicans went first in 1992 and decided to hold the first set of primaries. Democrats, who had a bruising internal debate in the mid 1980s that ended with no primary call, didn’t follow the GOP primaries with a matching set for a couple of election cycles.