Live from Music Row Thursday 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 public affairs specialist Clint Brewer in studio to comment upon the Nashville mayoral field of candidates and the significance of State Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).
Leahy: Clint Brewer all-star panelist and a good friend Clint. On Friday, State Senator Jeff Yarbro announced that he’s running for Mayor of Nashville. He’s a state senator who represents parts of Davidson County right now. So he’s already got name recognition. He’s relatively young. He’s 46. He’s got a very impressive background.
Harvard undergrad. University of Virginia Law School. Has worked and continues to work at Bass, Berry, and Sims, which is really the premier law firm in Nashville. Very expensive, very good. And so now he’s served in the state senate for 10 years. He was young when he was elected and announced that he wants to run for mayor. Said he’s all in to serve as the next mayor of Nashville.
Already in the race, Freddie O’Connell. Can I tell a story about Freddie? Can’t. Okay, Freddie. Come on in. You can tell your story. How about that? Freddie O’Connell and Metro Council member at large Sharon Hurt, Natisha Brooks, Matt Wilshire, and carpet bagger Jim Gingrich from Alliance Bernstein. You grimace, but it’s true. Carpet bagger Jim. You’re welcome to come in. Carpet bagger Jim has lived here for at least three years and moved from New York City.
Brewer: I hear a salsa commercial now, folks. (Chuckles)
Leahy: And Fran Bush, who was in here yesterday.
Brewer: Former school board member.
Leahy: Former school board member. But Yarbro is interesting in this sense. He has name recognition.
Brewer: Did you say Matt Wilshire?
Leahy: Did I say Matt Wilshire? Yes. Matt Wilshire raised a million bucks. So he’s in the raise. We’ve talked about money. You’re going to need $2 million, $3 million. I think, in this particular race. The election is August 3rd. Top two, if nobody gets 50 percent, goes to a runoff September 13th.
You need $2 million. Of the people that we’ve talked about here, who’s going to get to $2 million? Matt Wilshire? I don’t think Freddie will get to $2 million. Maybe he will. I don’t think so.
But Sharon Hurt won’t get there. Natisha won’t get there. Jim Gingrich could take his carpet bagger bank account and get the $2 million, but I don’t think it’ll help. And Fran Bush is not going to get the $2 million.
Brewer: Let’s talk about Jeff, and then let’s talk about who can be competitive in the race.
Leahy: Let’s do that.
Brewer: So, Jeff, Senator Yarbro is a significant addition to the field. All the things you said about him, spot on. His district is Sylvan Park to Antioch. It’s a great district for a mayor’s race.
Leahy: He probably currently represents about half of Davidson County.
Brewer: Yes, he does. And he’s been on the ballot three times.
Leahy: Name ID is there.
Brewer: So he’s got the name ID. He’s got, obviously, the infrastructure to run countywide immediately. It’s a name people know. The other thing is he can run without penalty because Metro’s elections are in odd-numbered years, and so he doesn’t risk losing his Senate seat.
I think it’s a really significant addition to the field. I would hesitate to call him the front-runner right off the bat, but I think he and Matt Wiltshire pull pretty even pretty quickly.
Leahy: I think you’re probably right in terms of because Wiltshire has raised a million bucks.
Brewer: Matt has got a really substantial network in Davidson County. He grew up here, went to high school here, and his career has been here.
Leahy: Jeff’s from Dyersburg and didn’t arrive here until after he got out of law school.
Brewer: You look at those two things and sort of the juxtaposition between those two candidates, I think it’s a pretty fair match right now. I think there are people in the field who can come on and be players. I think Jim Gingrich is one of those.
Leahy: You think he can?
Brewer: I do.
Leahy: I think he’ll never get past the carpet bagger thing.
Brewer: He’s got an opportunity to self-fund, which none of the other candidates in the race do. Well, that’s not true. I think Matt can self-fund to a certain extent.
Leahy: So some of that money is self-funded for Matt?
Brewer: I think there’s $400k in there.
Leahy: So he’s really only raised $600k.
Brewer: I think he’s at $1.4. So that would be a million. I think I think Jim Gingrich can self-fund. I think that is probably his best play.
Leahy: I can’t wait to get Jim Gingrich in studio.
Brewer: Jim Gingrich is a delightful guy. You would like Jim Gingrich.
Leahy: He’s not going to come in.
Brewer: He’s incredibly intelligent.
Leahy: He’s going to sit next to me, and I’m going to call him a carpet bagger. And he’s going to go ohh.
Brewer: I don’t know that he would do that.
Leahy: Here’s the gauntlet down. Jim, come on in.
Brewer: Jim is a very intelligent guy. He’s very accomplished. He’s run a very large company. A lot of the management skills we could use in Metro Nashville.
Leahy: Did I mention he’s a carpet bagger? (Chuckles)
Brewer: He has a lot of the serious, hard management skills that could be applied to a large metropolitan city and have a good effect.
Leahy: So I have a question about Jeff Yarbro. Can he take the pay cut? He must be a partner by now at Bass, Berry, and Sims.
Brewer: I don’t know.
Leahy: He’s making bank.
Brewer: He’s obviously willing to. In his law career, if he were to be elected mayor, a former mayor is a really nice person to have in your law firm.
Leahy: If you look at it, 46 year old guy,
Brewer: It’s the back end.
Leahy: Serves a couple of terms, and then he would easily become a senior partner at a law firm.
Brewer: And I think that right now where we are in the history of Metro, Nashville, and the state of Tennessee, and I know a lot of people who disagree with me about this, and they don’t think Metro has done anything wrong. But job one is to tamp all this stuff down with the General Assembly and make the relationship productive again. And it hasn’t been for some time.
Leahy: They’re at odds.
Brewer: When you go and ask the state government for half a billion dollars to build your football stadium, you’ve bought yourself a partner is what you bought.
Leahy: And they said yes.
Brewer: And they said yes.
Leahy: They should have said no. But they said yes.
Brewer: All the things that the state legislature is considering doing with the city of Nashville, from changing its election runoff laws to shrinking the size of its council to taking over fiscal control of the convention center, this is a partisan reaction to a partisan action.
The Metro Council said the Republican National Convention was not welcomed here. They rejected 50 percent of the voters in this country’s convention. I don’t know why anybody would be surprised. And so the next mayor has got to fix that, right? The next mayor has got to mend a new fence.
Leahy: State Senator Jeff Yarbro would have that history.
Brewer: He’s uniquely positioned to do that.
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 Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jeff Yabro” by Jeff Yabro. Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.