Democrats consider how to proceed after drubbing

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By Damon Lawrence

Now is not just a time for Democrats on the national level to do some soul searching.

Local Democrats face the same task.

On Election Day, they saw their representation in Congress and the Tennessee General Assembly become all Republican.

“It’s just very conservative times,” said Brad Parish, the Democrat executive committeeman for the 12th District.

The country’s discontent with Democrats showed at the polls.

Republicans were able to increase their gains in the General Assembly and win enough U.S. House seats to take control away from the Democrats.

“The difficult economic times we’re in crept up on us over many years,” Parish said. “I don’t think that the Democrats necessarily caused these problems. We’ve been working hard to correct these problems. I think people had a little bit of amnesia and took it out on anybody that had a ‘D’ beside their name.”

Republican Julia Hurley used the dissatisfaction with Democrats against Dennis Ferguson during the campaign for the 32nd District seat in the State House.

She often referred to him in the same sentences as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the top two Democrats in Congress.  

“He is a member of a party that has brought upon us trillions of extra dollars in debt,” Hurley told a crowd during a forum in September.

Ferguson tried to distance himself from the Washington politics.

He told voters that he was just a “Roane County boy” and not to view him as a liberal Washington Democrat.

Despite 18 years of service and being the hometown candidate, the “D” beside his name was kryptonite he couldn’t overcome.

Ferguson lost the seat to Hurley by 999 votes.       

“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “I always tried to be a conservative and work hard, but it didn’t matter what I done. It was not going to work this time. It didn’t matter how much money we spent.”

Being a Democrat was something U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis couldn’t overcome, either, despite his own conservative bent.

He was beaten handily by newcomer Scott DesJarlais in the race for the 4th Congressional District seat.

“I think the state has decided that they’re going to be a Republican state,” Davis said in an interview on WBIR.com. “I accept that. The voters have spoken.”

Davis voted against the bank bailout and the health-care bill.

He also had the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

“On a lot of issues there’s not a lot of difference in Tennessee between a Democrat and a Republican,” Parish said. “But that really seems to have flushed out Tennessee where they framed us all as very, very liberal Democrats.”

Going forward, Parish said local Democrats need to work with their new Republican representation to make things better for families in Tennessee.  

“This was a big surprise to us,” he said. “We knew this was a tidal wave across the state. It’s going to get us down for now, but we’re going to continue to work to see if they’re willing to work with us.”