U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper has built a sizable fundraising advantage over his top challenger in the Democratic primary for Tennessee’s fifth congressional district with just under a year to go before the 2022 election.
- Cooper has just over $1 million in his campaign coffers, according to disclosures filed on Friday, after bringing in $392,344 for the period ending Sept. 30.
- His challenger, progressive activist Odessa Kelly, has $154,786 on hand.
Why it matters: Kelly is backed by the influential Justice Democrats, the same group that helped propel progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush to primary victories over establishment Democrats.
- With over $412,000 raised to date, Kelly is already the best-funded challenger Cooper has ever faced for his Nashville-area House seat.
Go deeper: Cooper overcame a challenge from the left in 2020, downing progressive attorney Keeda Haynes by about 15,000 votes and a margin of 57% to 39%.
- It was Cooper's closest primary yet, stirring conversation that he may be vulnerable to a progressive challenge.
- Kelly has run an anti-establishment message against Cooper, whose brother John Cooper is Nashville's mayor.
Yes, but: There's a bigger question to be answered than fundraising numbers. Rumors continue to swirl that Republican state lawmakers will redraw the congressional maps in an attempt to increase the GOP's 7-2 advantage in Tennessee’s House delegation.
- In that scenario, Cooper would be drawn into a new Republican-majority district with known Republicans such as Beth Harwell, Manny Sethi and Steve Dickerson looming as possible challengers.
- The Republicans' proposed House districts will be unveiled in the coming months and considered by the General Assembly in January.
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