District 90 race heats up as John DeBerry faces newcomer Torrey Harris

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The race for District 90 is heating up in a case of old school meets new.

Incumbent Rep. John DeBerry is trying to hold his position from newcomer Torrey Harris. Both candidates tell WREG their priority is to their voters that they have their values at heart.

However, both are taking very different approaches.

“My strategy is to basically remind them who I am, what I stand for, and that I’m on the ballot,” DeBerry said.

Harris says his strategy is to talker to the voters.

“Talk to the voters at their doors. Talk to them on their phones,” Harris said. “Be at the events. Be where they are – where the people are and actually learn and know what actually matters to the people.”

For 26 years, DeBerry held the title as a Democrat but was recently voted out of the party after Memphis activist Janeita “Jan” Lentz filed a complaint claiming DeBerry didn’t share the party’s views.

The complaint claims he accepted donations from Republican PACs and voted in favor of the highly controversial school voucher bill and fetal heartbeat bill. Lentz later filed an addendum showing more contributions from Republican PACS and prominent Tennessee Republican leaders.

“Obviously, the Democrat Party has changed to where the tent has become so small that those who believe in life, in parental responsibility and choice, and the biblical standards of ethics and morality that those don’t fit under the tent anymore,” DeBerry said.

With DeBerry now running as an independent, this made room for 29-year-old Harris, the director of human resources at the Shelby County Trustees Office, to run.

“It’s not about being pro-life or pro-choice,” Harris said. “It’s about being pro-Black, pro-healthcare, being pro-public education, and being about what the people want in this district. We’re really fighting for that.”

DeBerry tells WREG since the complaint has been filed, his name has been slandered, and he’s putting some of the blame on Harris’ campaign.

“Is that ethical for someone that’s working for my opponent to have me removed from the ballot by a complaint that’s riddled with lies, half-truths, innuendo, and just flat unfair statements?” DeBerry said.

We asked Lentz and Harris if the accusation was true and both said no.

“She has not been a part of my campaign team. She has not been a part of helping me in my election,” Harris said.

Read more: DeBerry fumes over sign aligning him with Trump

Harris and DeBerry faced off for this seat in 2018 with Harris coming up short. Harris says he believes his progressive values will get him the win this time while DeBerry depends on his 26-year-track record.

We asked both men if they’d support the other if they lost this November.

“If he wins, I will support the people of District 90,” DeBerry said.

“I will support making sure we have someone in office who’s going to fight for us,” Harris said.

Signs of DeBerry alongside President Donald Trump have been appearing around polling places. DeBerry has spoken out against the signs, saying they are a false representation of his views.

“To spread that vicious misnomer, and vicious deception, that I’m closer and cozier to the Republicans than anybody else, it is absolutely ridiculous,” DeBerry said.

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