Feb 15, 2023 - Politics

How Megan Barry weighed another run for mayor

Megan Barry

Megan Barry. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CRS

Mere moments after Mayor John Cooper announced he would not seek re-election, former Mayor Megan Barry's phone started blowing up.

  • Backers called and texted Barry, encouraging her to run for her old job.

Yes, but: Before she embarked on the comeback trail, Barry wanted to seek counsel from a small group of advisers, and especially her husband, Bruce Barry.

In the end, Barry said, her marriage is in a good spot and she did not want to jeopardize that by relitigating the affair and resignation that marred her final weeks in office. She also didn't want to distract from the issues facing Nashville.

  • In an email to friends on Monday, Barry described her decision-making process.

What she's saying: "[Bruce] so wishes I could have a second chance. I love him for that — and I am so grateful the team was able to help us see through their eyes, the people we love and trust, that this isn't a good idea," Barry explained to her friends and supporters.

  • "Not running is good for the city — we don't need to pick that scab — I would become a distraction with all the past issues and the candidates wouldn't spend time on talking about the s--t that really matters!"

Catch up quick: Barry battled through a crowded field of candidates in 2015 to become Nashville's first woman mayor and its brightest political star.

  • In early 2018, Nashville politics was shaken by the revelation that Barry had an affair with the head of her police security detail. She resigned several weeks later.

Barry has spent the last several years as an evangelist on the issue of treating addiction. She's given frank talks about her son's battle with addiction and eventual death from an overdose.

  • And Barry also stayed connected to Nashville politics, maintaining close ties with some of the city's most influential elected officials and business people.

Flash forward: Cooper's exit from the August election seemed to pave the way for a crowded field of candidates. Barry's backers thought she could tap into her fiercely loyal network and emerge victorious.

What's next: State Rep. Bob Freeman also tells Axios he won't run for mayor this year. Freeman was perceived by political insiders as a major contender, yet he says the timing isn't right for him to run.

  • Although Barry and Freeman opted out, it could still be a lengthy ballot.
  • Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Councilmember Bob Mendes, property assessor Vivian Wilhoite and attorney Charles Robert Bone are among the potential candidates who could still enter the race before May's deadline.

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