Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman apologizes for calling state ‘racist’

The chairwoman of the Tennessee Democratic Party apologized this week for calling the state racist during a discussion of local politics and while promoting less conventional candidates.

Mary Mancini made the comment while speaking with the Coffee County Democratic Party earlier this month about how the party should put forward less conventional candidates, including black and Latinos, millennials and members of the LGBTQ community.

"We have a little bit of a problem in this state, and I'm just going to say it outright," Mancini said. "This is a racist state."

"We have a little bit of a problem in this state, and I'm just going to say it outright. This is a racist state."

— Mary Mancini, chairwoman, Tennessee Democratic Party

In another county party meeting, Mancini was heard on an audio recording calling Tennessee “a very racist state.”

Mancini issued her apology in a statement to the Tennessean newspaper of Nashville.

“In the heat and the frustration of seeing and hearing the constant drumbeat of bigotry, misogyny and homophobia coming from the Republicans at the state legislature, I used a poor choice of words and vented my frustration and I apologize," Mancini said.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said it was disappointing that Mancini called the state racist, the paper reported. He said Republicans are working to “lift all Tennesseans up,” citing the state’s economy and efforts to boost educational attainment.

Mancini said the GOP was causing division to be "become ingrained" in residents around the state. During her meeting with Coffee County Democrats, she suggested that Andrea Bond-Johnson, an African-American candidate for a seat in the state Legislature, couldn’t win because the area has a small minority population.

"Two out of the three counties in that area are extraordinarily racist," Mancini told the group.


"I wasn’t the only one who was told that we need to run someone who is not African-American in that district, because (some believed) an African-American cannot win in that district because white people will not vote for an African-American,” Mancini said in an interview with the paper.

Her comments follow state Rep. London Lamar, a Democrat, who apologized last year for calling Tennessee racist and the Republican voters uneducated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.