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Politics

TN Politics: Growing Partisanship in COVID Information and Memphis Elections

Tennessee State Capitol
Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM
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As Republican state lawmakers clamp down on what health officials can say about COVID-19, Memphis lawmakers consider whether local voters should be aware of a candidate's party affiliation.

When Gov. Bill Lee's administration fired a state health official this week for sending health providers legal clarification on what age teenagers in the state can consent to getting vaccines, the story made national headlines.

Bending to conservative political pressure, the health department also made several additional internal policy changes, including halting all vaccine-related information designed to educate minors.

If state Republicans appear determined to control the narrative over vaccines, some Memphis Democrats are floating the idea that city elections should no longer be nonpartisan. Council member Martavius Jones says voters should know whether candidates are Democratic or Republican, which could potentially add more Democrats to the council.

Political analyst Otis Sanford says there's no benefit to city elections becoming more polarized.