Former state representative John DeBerry (District 90)

Long-time District 90 representative John DeBerry was not at a loss for words when asked about his loss of the seat he’d held for 26 years to Torrey Harris, a 29-year-old who had never served in an elected office. Harris won 77% of the vote in the general election last week. 

DeBerry, 69, was kicked off the primary ballot in April by the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee after being accused of siding with Republicans on major issues and accepting donations from conservative PACs. DeBerry ran in the general election as an independent. 

Related: Hurdles can’t slow Torrey Harris on his way to state House

Here’s what DeBerry told MLK50: Justice Through Journalism reporter Carrington Tatum about his loss, Harris, the Democratic Party and his future in politics. 

“He’s [Harris] of that progressive mindset that it’s their turn. I’m not saying he’s a bad boy. That’s not my call; that’s between him and God. I’m saying he has no business having his first job in politics in the House of Representatives of the state of Tennessee.” 


“No, I have not reached out to him. For what? I am 69 years old. I have served in office since 1995. I have passed bills in the state of Tennessee. I have worked with presidents. I have been all around this country lecturing on things that help the whole country. [Why] in the world do I need to talk to an untested child who just puts his name up and the system uses him against me?”


“[The Democratic Party] claim[s] to be inclusive; they claim to be diverse; they claim to have a big tent; they claim to have open minds; they call the Republicans  narrow-minded, but then they’re the ones that throw a person off because they voted their conscience.”


“The fact of the matter is, the Democrats have said I can’t run as a Democrat. What I decide to do because of their unfair, and my belief, illegal action remains to be seen.”


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