Known by many for his ability to work across party lines, former State Sen. Reginald Tate passed away on Monday. He was 65.
“Senator Tate was a dedicated and accomplished politician who worked to build consensus and bring lawmakers together to pass legislation that benefited Shelby County,” said Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators Chairman G. A. Hardaway. “Our hearts go out to his family and we join them in mourning his loss.”
Beginning in 2006, Mr. Tate represented District 33, which takes in elements of Memphis and Shelby County, for 12 years. His served on the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee, the Finance, Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Fiscal Review Committee. He also served as vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee and the Shelby County Delegation.
“The 19 members of the Shelby County Delegation of State Legislators mourn the loss of our former colleague and friend, Senator Reginald Tate,” Rep. Antonio Parkinson, Shelby County Delegation chairman.
“Senator Tate left an indelible mark on the state of Tennessee and its citizens through legislation that he sponsored and cosponsored over his many years at the Tennessee Legislature.”
Rep. Raumesh Akbari, who chairs the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus, said she was “absolutely heartbroken to learn of the passing of my friend” and extended the caucus’ condolences to his family and friends.
“No matter what the legislative issue was, he found a way to work with folks from both sides of the aisle and always thought of Memphis first,” Akbari said. “Sen. Tate had a way of always making you smile and I know he’s smiling down on all of us today.”
A University of Memphis graduate, Mr. Tate earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in architectural engineering. He was the President/CEO of Accent by Design.
Mr. Tate sought re-election in 2018, losing in the Democratic Primary to his successor, Katrina Robinson.
“This is a sad day for Shelby County and our entire state,” Robinson said. “Thanks for 12 years of service to District 33.”
Prior to the 2018 election, Mr. Tate had drawn the ire of some area Democrats, who took issue with what was characterized as behavior “unbecoming of a Democrat” during a Fiscal Review Committee hearing. He was subsequently censured by the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee.
Mr. Tate took issue with the characterization and the action, saying, “And when I tell you no one called me, or even gave me the respect of discussing the matter with me, that is the truth.”
The news of Mr. Tate’s passing came on the heels of word that former state Rep. Rufus Jones, who represented District 86 from 1981 to 1996, also had passed.
Calling Jones and Tate “