Aug 4, 2022 - Politics

A preview of Nashville's Aug. 4 elections

Illustration of a ballot box and question mark sticker.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Republican Party has been on steady retreat in Nashville as the city shifts further to the left. But today's election could put that dynamic to the test.

  • Republicans can claim no elected judges or elected state lawmakers other than a tiny sliver of northern Davidson County in Sen. Ferrell Haile's district. Meanwhile, progressives have made inroads in the nonpartisan city council.

Why it matters: Republicans stand poised to claim complete congressional representation of Nashville, and the vote today could offer a critical preview of that landscape.

  • Redrawn district boundaries positioned the GOP to represent the three districts that will cover Davidson County, including the District 5 seat held by Rep. Jim Cooper since 2003 and by Democrats since the Civil War.

Be smart: One of three candidates — former House Speaker Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles or attorney and retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead — will win the District 5 Republican primary.

  • The winner will be the favorite in the general election in November, because the new district includes five counties that are heavily Republican in addition to portions of southern Davidson County.

Meanwhile: Nashville's school board races will also serve as a test of Republican voter turnout. Two GOP school board candidates are vying to win elections that are now partisan for the first time ever.

  • Republican Todd Pembroke is challenging incumbent board member and Democrat Rachael Anne Elrod. In a race to replace outgoing board member John Little, Republican Kelli Phillips is facing off against the Democratic candidate Berthena Nabaa-McKinney.
  • The school board elections will also be a test of how voters feel about Metro Nashville Public Schools' response to the pandemic. Two of the district's loudest critics — incumbent board member Fran Bush and District 8 candidate Amy Pate — are running as independents.
  • Bush is up against former school board chair Cheryl Mayes, and Pate is facing off against Erin O'Hara Block. Mayes and O'Hara Block are Democrats.

Nashville also has two closely watched Democratic primary races for seats in the state legislature.

Driving the news: Former Metro Councilmember Jerry Maynard is running against nonprofit executive and social justice activist Charlane Oliver and former Councilmember Ludye Wallace for state Senate District 19.

  • Turnout in the race has skewed older, presumably an advantage for Maynard and Wallace, but observers are wondering if those two will split the vote and open up a lane for Oliver to win.

Another key race pits activist-turned-candidate Justin Jones against Antioch area Metro Councilmember Delishia Porterfield to replace outgoing state Rep. Mike Stewart in state House District 52.

  • There's one competitive judicial race on the ballot: General Sessions Judge Lynda Jones, a Democrat, against Republican challenger Brian Horowitz.

Go deeper: Our previews of the partisan school board races and the state Senate primary.


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