Karl Dean Hits the Campaign Trail to Murfreesboro

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“You want everybody to be included, and you want a very inclusive campaign. That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Dean after a Thursday lunch. CAT MURPHY

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, building a wide network to win the 2018 election, met Thursday with African American community leaders in Murfreesboro, including pastors from several churches.

“Obviously, we’re reaching out to the clergy, talking about the governor’s race and about what we want to try accomplish when I’m governor and getting their support,” Dean said after a short gathering at Jeff’s Family Friendly Restaurant on Hancock Street in Murfreesboro.

Dean is looking for help bringing voters to the polls and excitement to the campaign. In addition to ministers, the meeting included current and former City Councilmen Kirt Wade and Ron Washington and former MTSU community liaison Gloria Bonner.

“I take nothing for granted. I want to check in with folks, make sure they understand what we’re saying and why we want them to be on board,” said Dean after meeting earlier in the day with members of the Rutherford County Democratic Party.

Dean, who reported raising $1.2 million during the first half of the year, says that figure makes him competitive with Republican candidates, some of whom wrote personal checks to buoy their finances.

The meetings Thursday in Murfreesboro are among numerous strategy sessions he’s held with groups across the state.

“You want everybody to be included, and you want a very inclusive campaign. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Dean says.

Talking points

Dean is making public education top priority in his campaign platform, and though he backs school choice, he opposes for-profit charter schools and vouchers, saying they would divert money from public schools. Charter schools took hold during his two terms as Nashville mayor, but he says while some charter schools are performing well in urban areas, he contends those with a profit motive “can’t focus on doing what’s best for students,” according to his website.

Jobs and healthcare are the other focal points of his campaign, areas of concern that resonate with those he met with at the popular meat and three.

The Rev. Richard W. Sibert, of Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist, wants to put together a mechanism to propel Dean to the governor’s office so he can duplicate his efforts in Davidson County.

“We know his record in Nashville and what he did for Nashville and with what he has done in Nashville and turned it around, I know he can turn our state around and get some great proposals out there and reform out there that we desperately need as far as the justice system and job equity and things of that nature,” Sibert said. “So I think he’s the right man, and we’re here to support him by organizing a structured group that will work on behalf of getting him to be governor.”

Advise and concerns

Bonner told the group to make sure it emphasizes the female vote as it moves toward the November 2018 election. The primary is set for May of next year, and so far Dean is the only Democrat to announce his candidacy.

“Our major concerns are the critical issues that affect us nationally, such as the voter suppression initiatives, healthcare and especially the expansion of Medicaid and Medicare for the under-represented and underserved,” Bonner said.

Members of the group are concentrating on quality education in public and private schools, as well, to build a strong generation of leaders, she said.

Regardless of the candidate, they have to understand local issues and concerns, Bonner adds.

“It’s important at the growth rate we are experiencing in Murfreesboro that we are not ignored by any candidate that’s running, particularly at the state and national level,” she says.

With a population at more than 120,000, Murfreesboro is projected to more than double in 20 years.

Asked if the group would be mobilizing for any Republican candidates, Bonner said, “We’re encouraging every candidate: Do not ignore the value of any one individual. Every vote matters and every life matters.”

Republican primary candidates include Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, a former commissioner of Tennessee Economic and Community Development, Bill Lee, owner of the Lee Co. from Williamson County, state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet and House Speaker Beth Harwell of Davidson County.

House Democratic Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh is considering a run for governor but has not announced.

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