Jul 3, 2023 - Election

Honky-tonk owner airs O'Connell attack ad

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Honky-tonk mogul Steve Smith funded an attack ad in the Nashville mayor's race urging people to vote for anyone but Councilmember Freddie O'Connell.

Details: The 15-second ad begins with the narrator pivoting from ABC, standing for "Anyone But Cooper" to "NOE," meaning "Not O'Connell Either."

  • "After eight years of representing Broadway, it's still the same [expletive], different day," the narrator says over images of homeless people, including a picture of a man defecating.
  • It's the only negative ad aired in the mayor's race so far. It is airing during morning TV news broadcasts.

Flashback: O'Connell's Metro Council district includes lower Broadway. He vocally opposed Kid Rock, Smith's friend and business partner, serving as grand marshal of the city's Christmas parade.

The other side: The O'Connell campaign seized on the ad, turning it into fodder for a fundraising request to supporters last week.

  • "When you get attacked by a downtown bar owner who causes as many problems as Steve Smith, you must be doing something right," O'Connell spokesperson Alex Apple tells Axios.
  • "If Steve Smith is bothered by Freddie's quest to build a Nashville for Nashvillians, then that's confirmation that Freddie O'Connell is the right man to be Nashville's next mayor.”
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