On Saturday, more than 1,000 Tennessee Democrats from across the state gathered in Lebanon to Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, and Fight for the Future at the 2018 Three Star Dinner and Celebration.
Attendees heard from elected leaders and candidates, paid tribute to Democratic accomplishments of years past, and got fired up to use every moment from now until November 6 to work hard to elect more Democrats up and down the ballot.
Keynote speaker U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama addressed the crowd, speaking to the opportunity to restore Democratic values to all levels of government.
"Thanks to each of you, we are once again loudly proclaiming the values we have held for generations," Sen. Jones said. "Decency, honesty, dignity, and respect. Giving hate no safe harbor and leaving no one in our society behind."
Jones said his victory and the coming election is proof that Republicans don't have a permanent hold on the South.
"I believe we can show the country that we embrace the change we see in our diverse communities -- that we have pride in a way of life that values people," Jones said.
Former two-term governor and U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said he'd join Senator Jones in focusing on "kitchen-table issues" in the Senate so that others can experience Tennessee as a land of incredible opportunity, as it was for him.
"I'm going to open doors and pave the way for this next generation," Bredesen said. "I need your help -- but I'm not going to pay it back. I'm going to pay it forward, and be the best damn senator you've ever laid your eyes on."
Democratic candidates for governor Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh also addressed the crowd, focusing on capitalizing on the energy of this moment and remembering what we're fighting for.
Dean, former Mayor of Nashville, stressed the importance of expanding Medicaid, saying "Our state has lost $4 billion and left hundreds of thousands of people without healthcare access," Dean said. "Let's be a state that lives up to our values."
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh spoke to the energy of Democrats around the state stepping up to run for office and volunteer.
"People are fighting back against what once were overwhelming odds," Fitzhugh said. "At the end of the day, this election is about people. People matter."
All told, the Tennessee Democratic Party raised more than $450,000 and saw a record number of attendees. Combined with investments from the DNC totaling more than $125,000, it's clear that Tennessee is a "state of opportunity," as Senator Jones put it.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini said the quality of the candidates and the commitment of Democrats stepping up across the state is a sign of good things to come this fall.
"We have more than 100 candidates running for legislative seats, fantastic candidates in all nine congressional races, and top-tier candidates for the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races," Mancini said. "Our message -- that no matter who you are, where you live, or what you look like, you deserve the opportunity to create a better life for yourself and your family -- is resonating all across the Volunteer State. We celebrate Saturday night's success and now we're getting back to work to ensure we reach every possible Democratic voter in November. It's a good year to be a Tennessee Democrat."