The main members of the party are already participating. Vice President Kamala Harris plans to make an unexpected visit to Nashville to meet with ousted lawmakers and push for gun reform. the Tennessee reported Friday.
And it’s unlikely the couple will leave the state Capitol building for long: Local leaders are already moving to reappoint them both long before a special election is held. The Nashville Metropolitan Council will consider appointing Jones to his former post, which spans parts of Nashville, on Monday. In Person’s Memphis district, the chief of the Shelby County Commission, which has a large Democratic majority, said that might consider reappointing Pearson.
“We’re ready to go,” said Freddie O’Connell, a Nashville council member. O’Connell, a Democrat running for Nashville mayor, said he believes Jones has enough council support to return to the state chamber as soon as Monday night.
Jones said on CNN Friday morning that he intends to return to the state chamber. He sees his and Pearson’s role as a «voice of moral dissent» and a «speed bump to try and stop them from driving this train over a cliff».
After re-elections, special elections will be held to fill both positions permanently. Jones and Pearson have already restarted their old campaign websites and reopened their fundraising accounts. While it’s up to Republican Gov. Bill Lee to call a new election and the state party to set the deadlines, the primary election is likely to take place in late summer and the general election in the fall, ensuring the couple will remain in the spotlight for much of the year.
“I don’t expect Justin Jones to suffer from a lack of resources to soundly defeat anyone else who can run the race as a Republican,” O’Connell said. Jones was unopposed overall after winning the Democratic primary by about 300 votes.
State Sen. Raumesh Akbari said Republicans’ pursuit of ousters instead of considering gun legislation has ignited a spark among Tennesseans, one that could backfire on the GOP.
“A week ago, nobody outside of this community knew Justin Jones and Justin Pearson,” Akbari said. “Now the world is watching. Their platform and their ability to advocate for the issues they believe in have been magnified.»
Several members of the Tennessee Democratic Party said donations have been pouring in since the Covenant school shooting and the Republican evictions of the so-called “Tennessee Three,” who collectively represent the three largest cities in the state.
A GoFundMe account set up this week to cover Democrats’ legal expenses, should they decide to sue the Republican leadership, has raised over $38,000. The trio gained tens of thousands of Twitter followers in the hours after the controversial vote.
Senator chris murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted that more than $250,000 in donations were poured into ActBlue, the fundraising platform used by many Democratic politicians and organizations, the day Jones and Pearson were ousted.
The advocates want to redirect attention to the issue they were advocating: changing Tennessee’s gun safety laws. Protesters have surrounded the Capitol building for weeks, calling on lawmakers to pass gun safety measures like red flag and safe storage laws, as well as roll back recent measures like enacting carry without a permit.
“Since the shooting, many people here in Nashville, especially students, mothers and educators, have had enough,” said Zach Maaieh, a leader of Students Demand Action at Vanderbilt University who joined the protesters on Capitol Hill. “We are hearing about shot after shot. It’s heartbreaking every time, but you don’t see anything happen from our state leaders.»
Gun safety advocates and lawmakers take aim at deeply red states that have enacted red flag laws, measures that allow courts to temporarily seize the guns of someone deemed dangerous.
“Nineteen states, including Indiana and Florida, have already taken this step,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said at a news conference Thursday. «Now is the time for Tennessee to join that list.»
The state Democratic party is salivating over the sudden public interest in Tennessee politics and channeling that energy to defeat the Republicans. It is an extremely ambitious goal. Democrats in Tennessee and across the South have been trampled by Republicans in recent elections, a phenomenon Democrats blame on GOP-rigged districts and low voter turnout.
Dakota Galban, head of the Davidson County Democrats, an area that encompasses Nashville, said most of the emails and calls he has received in recent days are from people concerned about what the Republicans’ decision means for democracy. to oust the Democrats.
“We’re really trying to get as many people involved in our organization so that we can mobilize and organize volunteers and voters before this special election,” Galban said. «Hopefully we can build on that momentum through 2024.»
Beyond Tennessee, the drama on Capitol Hill has drawn scorn from national leaders like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and formerRNC President Michael Steele.
Even former President Barack Obama weighed in on Twittercalling the events «the latest example of a broader erosion of civility and democratic norms.»
«Silencing those who disagree with us is a sign of weakness, not strength, and it will not lead to progress,» Obama said.