Governor Bill Lee tapped former State Representative John DeBerry (D-TN-Memphis) to join his Cabinet as a senior advisor. Lee’s announcement came shortly after DeBerry lost his re-election.
The governor appears to hold high regard for the former representative, though their party alignments differ.
“John DeBerry is a respected leader and man of faith who has served our state with integrity for decades as both a legislator and civil rights champion,” stated Lee in his statement. “John has fought to protect life, provide better education options for Tennessee students, and to reform our criminal justice system and I’m honored to have his counsel within the Cabinet.
The Democratic Party quietly removed DeBerry from the ticket earlier this year following conflict over his support for school voucher and pro-life policies. Specifically, DeBerry voted against the Party on a fetal heartbeat bill and Education Savings Account legislation.
As a result of the Party’s decision, DeBerry was forced to run as an independent for his own re-election. He had served as the District 90 state representative for the last 26 years.
“I am proud of the work accomplished throughout my time with the Tennessee General Assembly and I look forward to serving Tennesseans in this statewide role,” stated DeBerry in the press release.
Democratic candidate Torrey Harris received 77 percent of the vote compared to DeBerry’s 23 percent. Harris became Tennessee’s first openly bisexual state representative, coming into office with mainly a decade’s worth of activism as his background.
Harris previously challenged DeBerry in 2018, unsuccessfully.
DeBerry will be paid around $165,000 a year. The former representative is scheduled to assume his new position within Lee’s cabinet on Tuesday.
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