Carol Swain on Possible Mayoral Candidacy: ‘I Have Been Called to Hold Politicians Accountable, Not to Be One’

Feb 1, 2023

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Carol Swain in studio to discuss whether she would consider a run for the mayor of Nashville in the 2023 August election.

Leahy: Our good friend, all-star panelist Carol Swain, is in studio with us. Carol, yesterday, Mayor John Cooper announced that he’s not running for re-election. The election for a new four-year term will be held on August 3rd here in Metro Nashville Davidson County. There are several candidates who have been announced. They’re all pretty much far-left lunatics. (Swain chuckles) I mean, they’re nice people, but they’re far-left lunatics.

Swain: I know. Look at the National Democratic Party.

Leahy: Yeah, what’s the difference? And we’ve had Sharon Hurt, who’s an at-large council member on the newsmaker line. She’s not been in the studio yet. Freddie O’Connell, a council member is running. He’s clearly a far-left lunatic. And then Matt Wilshire, who’s pretending not to be a far-left lunatic, but he is a far-left lunatic.

Swain: He’s approaching Republicans, and I hope people are very cautious about lining up behind him.

Leahy: I can tell you he’s telling people he’s a Republican.

Swain: Just like Mayor Cooper told the Republican women that he was a conservative and got a lot of their support.

Leahy: Yes. You remember that well. Now, Carol, I recall that there was a special election; I think it was back in 2018. You ran for mayor, and then you ran for mayor again.

Swain: I would like the world to remember that I came in number two in that special election.

Leahy: You did.

Swain: Even though the conventional wisdom among Republicans in the world is that no Republican can win in Nashville, so you have to support the best Democrats you can find.

Leahy: You also ran for mayor in the 2019 general election.

Swain: Came in number three, and they changed the way they did the ballots. And so my name was at the bottom of the second page. It wasn’t on the front screen.

Leahy: It was just an accident.

Swain: Which part was an accident? (Laughs) Oh, yes, I remember those days fondly. I’ve attended two victory parties where I was the loser. (Laughter)

Leahy: Well, you handle it with grace and style, Carol.

Swain: Of course.

Leahy: Mayor Cooper not running for re-election. It’s a wide-open field. I think I heard Natisha Brooks announced it yesterday. She ran for the GOP nomination in the 5th district. She finished fourth or fifth in that. She didn’t have a lot of money, but she’s a good speaker.

But the big question that a lot of people are asking me is, and here you are. So I’m going to ask you, Carol Swain, are you going to run for mayor of Nashville Davidson County in the August 2023 general election?

Swain: Michael, I’m too old, too smart to give you a yes or no answer. (Leahy laughs) The thing about it is, everything you say you never do, sometimes you end up doing. So, I’m not going to say never, but it would take a miracle.

Leahy: We believe in miracles here on The Tennessee Star Report. Let’s outline the elements of what would be the elements that would enable such a miracle to take place. And there are several.

Swain: The most important thing is I believe God has a plan for my life, a call on my life. Everything would have to line up as far as what I felt, and how it was being laid out. And then I would need someone like Ward Baker to run the campaign.

Leahy: Our friend Ward Baker, he listens to the show.

Swain: And at least $2 million.

Leahy: At least $2 million.

Swain: And then before I would even consider that, I would have to do a deep dive into the city’s finances, the state of affairs, what’s happening with the crime, what’s happening with the police, because I have been focused on national issues, and I believe that I’m called to a much bigger arena than Nashville.

But at the same time, I do love the city. And it’s like other blue cities. It is going to hell in a handbasket. I don’t know what the solution is, but those far-left candidates can only take Nashville further down.

Leahy: There’s no question about that. As bad as Mayor John Cooper has been, the candidates that I outlined to you, Sharon Hurt, Freddie O’Connell, and Matt Wilshire would be no better and could probably be worse. That’s a really bad field.

Swain: Our cities are in a sad state right now. And I would encourage the Republican Party to stop being so fatalistic with this argument that no Republican can win and go out and recruit someone. Because I think it’s possible to win for the right person. Especially since the Democrats are in the race, I think that they’re going to sort of take each other down.

Leahy: They will split the left-wing lunatic vote. And if you look at Nashville, Davidson County, depending upon the election, it’s probably now 70 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican, or maybe 65 percent Democrat, 35 percent Republican. Something in that range. Would you agree?

Swain: Probably. But the city has deep problems, and corruption is one of the major ones, and I’m not sure what it would take to turn things around. I look at that homeless encampment at the corner of Nolensville Road and Edmundson, and it is spread across the street. It was on one side behind the store.

It is growing. What do you do about homelessness? We know that whatever the Democrats are doing, it’s not working. And it’s just so many problems affecting the city. And I would never, ever run for office unless I thought I could make things better.

And I don’t know that because I don’t know the state of affairs in Nashville. I have not been following it closely. That’s my honest reaction. But I can tell you that my mother passed seven days ago.

Leahy: And we are sorry about her passing. How old was she?

Swain: She was 92 and a half.

Leahy: A long life.

Swain: And she lived with me for 13 years. And so all of my decisions have been made thinking of my mother, and she was declining. And so I had cut back on my travel. And the blessing there was that I had always prayed that I would be at home when she died, and she would die at home.

She wouldn’t be in the hospital, hooked up to a machine. And I was in the room when she took her last breath. And I could have gone to the store. I could have gone to the gym. I didn’t have to be there. God answered my prayers. And so right now, I don’t know anything.

I definitely don’t know my future. I do know that, as I’ve always told people, I feel that I have been called to hold politicians accountable, not to be one. I also believe that we don’t need any more politicians. We need statesmen and stateswomen who are out there for altruistic reasons and not for themselves.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Carol Swain” by Carol Swain.