The executive committee of the Tennessee Democratic Party doubled down on Wednesday night on its decision to kick Rep. John DeBerry off the primary ballot.
DeBerry, who has serve in the legislature for 26 years, had appealed an earlier decision from the state party, which claimed he was not a bonafide Democrat because of his opposition to abortion and support for school vouchers.
The committee rejected DeBerry’s appeal 40-24.
In his plea to the party, DeBerry said his record on criminal justice and childcare reform show he is a Democrat. He also said that over two decades ago he supported — along with members of his party — efforts to implement a state income tax.
“This is why the folks in my district, who are very aware of who I am and what my beliefs are and what my record is, have elected me handedly 13 times,” DeBerry said.
DeBerry declined to participate in a question-and-answer period with the committee.
In an interview with WPLN News after the vote, DeBerry said the party’s decision shows that they don’t want candidates with conservative values. He said the Democratic Party he joined in 1995 “doesn’t exist anymore.”
He also questioned why the committee chose to remove him this year.
“Let’s be real, if you cannot beat him at the ballot box, take him off the ballot,” DeBerry said. “This was filed in such a way that it not only removes my right to run as a Democrat, it removes my right to run as an independent.”
Because the filing deadline has passed, DeBerry will not be able to have his name on any ballot in the August primary.
He could technically run as a write-in candidate. However, DeBerry told WPLN News he will not run.
Multiple executive committee members said removing DeBerry from the ballot meant the party was disenfranchising voters in his district.
But other members said DeBerry’s contributions to Republicans and conservative organizations make him an outlier.
“Do you believe that Rep. DeBerry voting record align with the views of the Democratic Party platform of today?” Jordan Wilkins, the leader of the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association, said. “I do not.”