New Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Harris Fights to Save His Position Amid Multiple Controversies

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Michael Harris, who won election as the new Shelby County Democratic Party chairman in April, is already facing discontent in the ranks, with the politician calling a special meeting to save his position.

The Daily Memphian on Monday said Harris is the second chairman of the party, which recently re-formed. Many long-standing executive committee members left, and new people, including Harris, entered the party.

During a meeting last week, the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee could have chosen to either take no action on Harris or could have scheduled a meeting to specifically consider the issue, the Daily Memphian said. However, Harris agreed to call the meeting himself within 20 days to resolve the matter. The meeting’s date has not been reported.

State Rep. Lamar London (D-TN-91) and State Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-TN-29) once thought of running for Harris’ position but backed out, letting him run unopposed, the Daily Memphian said. Now, London is calling for unity ahead of the 2020 elections.

Harris’ opponents are not backing down.

They say that he filed for bankruptcy eight times, leading to the judge to rule he could not file again for five years, Local Memphis said.

The Tennessee Star in April reported on Harris’ controversial election as the chairman, with discontent stemming from the 2017 suspension of his law license over allegations of ethical violations.

The Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee handles lawyer discipline. Its information on Harris is here.

Three members of the Shelby County Democratic Party filed a grievance with the Tennessee Democratic Party to oust Harris, who has filed for bankruptcy protection eight times, WREG reported.

Outgoing treasurer Julie Byrd Ashworth said the vote to make Harris party chair shouldn’t count because he didn’t get a true majority when they excluded abstaining votes.

“Mr. Harris only had 37 of the votes, and 38 were required. We think he was just not elected,” she said.

The Tennessee Democratic Party rejected their grievance and sent WREG this statement: “The TNDP County Party Development Committee passed a resolution determining that the state party does not have the jurisdiction to take action against Chairman Harris for missteps that occurred before he was elected. However, it also points out that members of the Shelby County Democratic Party can pursue a change in leadership through an internal vote. TNDP Chair Mary Mancini approved the resolution.”

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.





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