The Tennessee Democratic Party took a historic step Saturday, voting to elect Hendrell Remus as the first Black chairman of the party.
Remus won on a second ballot vote against longtime Democratic activist Wade Munday.
Munday, who serves on the Democratic National Committee, has also worked at the TNDP as communications director and served as treasurer. He was considered a front runner but as the date of the election neared, Remus emerged as stiff competition.
A native of Memphis, Remus ran for Tennessee House of Representatives District 84 in 2012 in the Democratic primary, losing to against incumbent Rep. Joe Towns. In 2014, Remus ran for Shelby County Commission but lost that race as well. He is currently a member of the TNDP Executive Committee representing Tennessee Young Democrats and is a committee member for Young Democrats of America.
Professionally, he serves as Assistant Director of Emergency Management for Tennessee State University.
Outgoing three-term Chair Mary Mancini announced on Nov. 7 she would not run for a fourth term. Theryn Bond, who managed newly-elected Rep. Torrey Harris, had already announced, and was followed by announcements of candidacy from Munday, Rep. London Lamar of Memphis, Washington County Democratic Party Chair Kate Craig, and former U.S. Senate candidate Robin Kimbrough Hayes.
The group of candidates was rounded out by Frank Hundley, campaign manager for State Sen. Heidi Campbell, former congressional candidate Chris Finley, Dr. Jane George, a former Knoxville state senate candidate and Civil Miller Watkins, chair of the Fayette County Democratic Party and a former candidate for state house.
Behind the scenes, state committee members expressed dissatisfaction with the candidate options and a group of them recruited Rep. John Ray Clemmons of Nashville.
Clemmons, Lamar and Hundley dropped out the week of the election.
Party bylaws require each candidate for chair to be nominated by a member of the TNDP executive committee. Finley did not receive a nomination. On the first ballot vote, George, Watkins, and Bond received no votes.
With Remus and Munday holding strong numbers, both Craig and Hayes dropped out, giving their endorsements to Remus. On the second ballot, the vote was divided with most longtime members supporting Munday and younger and newer members supporting Remus.
The final vote was 37 votes for Remus and 31 for Munday.
Also elected Saturday were Barbara Wagner as Vice-Chair, Pamela Weston as Secretary and Carol Abney as Treasurer.