Feb 1, 2023 - Politics

Previewing Nashville's wide-open mayoral race

Illustration of Nashville City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios; Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

The Nashville political world was abuzz with gossip following Mayor John Cooper's announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election.

What's happening: Metro Councilmembers Sharon Hurt and Freddie O'Connell and former city official Matt Wiltshire are already running for mayor.

  • That's just the beginning.

The intrigue: Perhaps the most notable potential candidate to confirm their possible interest is former Mayor Megan Barry, who tells Axios she's already fielding calls from supporters pushing her to run again.

  • Barry resigned from office in 2018 following the revelation that she had an affair with the head of her police security detail.
  • She was replaced by then-Vice Mayor David Briley, who won re-election in 2018 before being thumped by Cooper in the 2019 runoff.
  • Prior to Barry, the three previous mayors served eight-year terms. The high turnover after her departure has created an air of tumultuousness.

What we're watching: In addition to Barry, state lawmakers Rep. Bob Freeman, Sen. Heidi Campbell and Sen. Jeff Yarbro are potential challengers.

  • Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes, who watched Cooper's press conference Tuesday in person, confirmed to Axios he's interested in the job. Davidson County Assessor Vivian Wilhoite announced she's forming an exploratory committee for a possible run, and Juvenile Court Clerk Lonnell Matthews tweeted a cryptic message as well.
  • Other viable candidates include activist Odessa Kelly, attorney Charles Robert Bone and businessman Jim Gingrich.

In short, this year's mayor's race will be a bloody free-for-all.

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