After two of the party's executive committee members resigned during a contentious meeting this past weekend, the Tennessee Democratic Party's executive director, Kevin Teets, told chairman Roy Herron Monday that he'd be leaving his post as well.
The party confirmed that Teets would be leaving the state party to "pursue new opportunities" in a statement released late Monday afternoon.
“Having just led the Tennessee Democratic Party to its most successful Jackson Day in years, Executive Director Kevin Teets is leaving the state Democratic Party to pursue new opportunities," Herron says in the prepared statement. "Kevin led the efforts that doubled the gross and quintupled the amount raised at Jackson Day each of the last two years. That $350,000 will help elect Democrats, and I'm personally grateful for the incredible job Kevin did in leading our team. Kevin’s hard work made it possible for Sen. Tim Kaine and our dynamic Democratic mayors to energize Democrats statewide and for us to honor Congressman Cooper for all his years of service to the state. We wish Kevin well in all of his future endeavors.”
All indications, however, are that Teets is not leaving on such pleasant terms.
For one thing, he is not quoted in the release, which also offers no explanation for his departure, save his pursuit of "new opportunities." Two Democratic sources told Pith Monday that they didn't believe Teets had any such opportunities lined up, but simply "wanted out." One source said with certainty that Teets was leaving because of Herron, who has a reputation in some quarters for being difficult to work with. Pith's attempts to reach Teets prior to the party release Monday afternoon were unsuccessful and he has not responded to those requests for comment since. (Pith has also offered the TNDP a chance to respond to these claims and we'll update this post if and when they do so.)
His exit comes amidst significant strife in the party about Herron's leadership. The former state senator, who won a contested election for the party chairmanship in January, took a beating last Saturday from executive committee members who, the Chattanooga Times Free-Press reports, "voiced complaints, questions and criticisms over his executive style and some decisions" in the committee's first meeting with Herron as party chair. The party's Finance Committee chairman, Jerry Maynard — who is also a Metro Councilman — and the committee's vice chairwoman, Mary Patterson, of Mount Juliet, resigned from their positions on the Finance Committee.
Note: This post has been updated to clarify that Jerry Maynard and Mary Patterson resigned from their positions on the TNDP's Finance Committee. They remain members of the Executive Committee.