Apr 4, 2022 - Politics

Heidi Campbell enters the fray

State Sen. Heidi Campbell.
State Sen. Heidi Campbell. Photo: Josie Norris/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is running for the District 5 congressional seat, the first major Democrat to enter the fray.

Why it matters: While the Republican primary is shaping up to be a battle royale, Democrats had been waiting for a serious candidate to run.

Driving the news: Campbell entered politics as a neighborhood activist who opposed a retail development in Oak Hill. Following that zoning dispute, she won election to the town council and then ran for the state Senate in 2020.

  • In order to win that seat, Campbell emerged from a competitive Democratic primary and then toppled incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson. Those hard-fought victories may prepare her for a race in which the Democratic primary winner will be the underdog.

What she's saying: "I'm not afraid of a scrap," Campbell tells Axios.

  • "Every family deserves the freedom to thrive, living a good middle-class life and working a good job without the constant question of how you'll make ends meet," Campbell said in a press release.

State of play: The fifth congressional district had been a safe Democratic seat for generations.

  • But Republicans created new district boundaries earlier this year that carved Nashville into three districts and converted District 5 into a seat favoring the GOP.
  • Following redistricting, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, announced his retirement.

Be smart: A crowded field is forming on the Republican side of the race.

  • Known candidates include former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, businessperson Baxter Lee, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, music video producer and activist Robby Starbuck and retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead.

What's next: Campbell is holding a campaign kickoff Tuesday at noon at War Memorial Auditorium.

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