Tennessee Representative, John DeBerry Jr. has served his constituents for the last 26 years. In addition to his responsibilities as a government official, DeBerry has also been an ordained minister for the Coleman Avenue Church of Christ in Memphis.
DeBerry explained in an interview with the Catholic News Agency, "My work in Nashville as a legislator is nothing more than an extension of my work as a child of God, as a Christian." Therefore, DeBerry has also been vocal about his pro-life beliefs and conservative views on gay rights, which have not gained him any favors amongst some of his Democratic peers.
In April, the Democratic executive committee decided in a 41-18 vote to remove him from the ballot for the August primary due to his pro-life beliefs. Another vote held the following week confirmed this decision. Due to the second vote occurring after the filing deadline, DeBerry was unable to run as a Republican or Independent candidate, and was forced to either engage in a difficult write-in campaign or to relinquish his seat in the House. Executive committee member Bryan Carson spoke to the Tennessean about DeBerry's expulsion, saying that DeBerry did not represent the "basic democratic principles" required of a representative, and that DeBerry's constituents do not understand what he stands for.
However, in an unexpected move, Tennessee legislators passed a measure to amend the state election rules so that DeBerry could be listed as an Independent candidate on the ballot, even though the filing deadline had passed. DeBerry in response told the Catholic New Agency, "for them to say that folks don't know where I stand, they actually said that the people in my district don't have sense enough to elect their representative."