Davidson County Republican Party Chairman Lonnie Spivak joins The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy in-studio Friday to discuss the nuts-and-bolts of the upcoming elections in Davidson County and Nashville.
Michael Patrick Leahy: 6:19 AM broadcasting live from our studios on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee.
In studio, very good friend, chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party, Lonnie Spivak.
Really rebuilding the Republican Party here in Davidson County.
Lonnie, We have three weeks and six days until the August 3rd election.
Tell our listeners who’s on the ballot and what outcome we might expect in the mayor’s race, the at-large city council race, and then the 35 separate council district races.
Lonnie Spivak: Well, for the first time in a long time, let me just say we have a bunch of what I would call strong Republicans running for office here in Nashville.
We have two Republican candidates running for mayor and Alice Rolli and Natisha Brooks, and we have a couple of Republicans running in the at-large, and then about 16 to 18 candidates running for the particular districts.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now that is actually a huge improvement, because I can recall times when a mayor’s race didn’t even have a Republican in it.
Lonnie Spivak: Yeah. And you know, if you watched the debate last night on Channel 5, Alice Rolli was on the stage. I’m not sure what the criteria was.
Natisha didn’t make the stage last night, but Alice did a great job really kind of separating herself from the liberal group who were on the stage with her.
She’s focusing on Nashville’s debt crisis and cutting the layers of bureaucracy in Nashville.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now, Nashville’s debt crisis is real. It’s got a very poor fiscal rating. And they seem to be spending more and more and more; and now they’ve been encumbered with the Titan Stadium deal – although there’s a lot of twists and turns on that.
But the debt crisis is real for Metro Nashville.
Lonnie Spivak: You know, it’s not hyperbole to say that Nashville has more debt than the whole state of Tennessee.
Michael Patrick Leahy: That’s actually a fact, isn’t it?
Lonnie Spivak: Yeah, it’s a fact.
I mean, you just think about the state has a humongous budget and deals with 95 counties and you know, the one county in Nashville has more debt and pays more money each year to debt service than the state of Tennessee does.
And, and really, the state of Tennessee could be debt-free, but some of those bonds have a penalty for early payment.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Yeah. So let’s talk about the mechanics of the election.
On August 3rd is election day. Early voting if you live in Davidson County – and hopefully already registered, if not–
Lonnie Spivak: You would’ve had to register already to be able to vote in this election.
Michael Patrick Leahy: But early voting begins a week from today. Yep. July 14th.
Explain how early voting works here in Nashville.
It’s a little different in terms of, you know, where you can go for the first week, then how it expands for a period of time.
Lonnie Spivak: So starting Friday, early voting will just be downtown on Second Avenue at the Howard School building. And then the following week it’ll open up to A handful of satellite sites.
So once it opens to the satellite site, let’s just say, I mean, you live in the Antioch area, but you’re in Bellevue, you can swing by the Bellevue Library and, and vote.
You don’t have to be at your voting precinct to vote in early voting. You can vote at any of the satellite sites.
But the important thing is to bring your driver’s license, cuz we require ID to vote in the state of Tennessee.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Because it’s Tennessee – another reason we love Tennessee.
Now August 3rd is the general. The results will come in and with 12 candidates for mayor. The way it works here in Metro Nashville, Davidson County is if no one gets 50 percent of the vote, then the top two vote-getters qualify for a runoff, which will be held in early September, I think what, September 13th?
Lonnie Spivak: Yeah. And the one other thing to note on that, we do have a special election in State House 51.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Oh yeah.
Lonnie Spivak: The primary is gonna be that August 3rd date. We do have a Republican who’s qualified to run in that election. His name’s David Hooven.
He’s getting his campaign up and running. I spoke with him last week and I’ll look forward to seeing how we, the county party can help him move forward.
Michael Patrick Leahy: So that’s on the ballot. And then the 52nd district is also on the ballot. The Democrat is Justin Jones. Yeah,
Lonnie Spivak: That’ll be August 3rd.
That’ll be their general election. It’ll be the Democrat Justin Jones. And the Republican in that race is Laura Nelson.
Michael Patrick Leahy: So you get to vote in that if you’re in the 52nd district, which covers – what – the area from the airport, Antioch area.
Lonnie Spivak: So two special elections there, and then we have five at large seats. And we’re confirming with the candidates obviously in Nashville, not everyone wants to identify as a Republican in this nonpartisan race which our metro elections are. So we’re, we’re gonna be posting probably this week a list of candidates that we’re not endorsing, but we feel closely aligned with our ideas – in the metro at large races, and the separate metro council races.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Now in the separate, the 35 council districts each geographically contained – you said you’ve got a number, what, 16 candidates outta 35, which is actually pretty good. To have that many Republican candidates at that level.
Lonnie Spivak: Actually, you know, we have a couple of districts where the Republican is unopposed. We have a couple districts where there are just two Republicans running. And, and so one thing’s for sure, there will be a handful of conservatives on this next council. Which is really gonna be a great springboard for 2027 as the council gets reduced from 40 to 20.
Michael Patrick Leahy: The other thing before we go here, little thing I’ve noticed and I will credit the, the, the, the, the left wing nonprofit that Holly McCall runs the Tennessee Lookout. They did do something that was interesting. They looked at advertising in the mayor’s race, and I’ll just tell you, this is for cable and a local television.
Jim Gingrich has spent $1.2 million. Matt Wilshire has spent $773,000, and then you go down to the next tier.
Alice Rolli has spent $51,000 almost all on Fox News cable. Freddie O’Connell has spent $48,000 almost all on various local television stations.
And then, you know, just get down to others. Jeff Yarbro spent $23,000, et cetera.
This is very interesting to look at, and I don’t think spending $1.2 million is gonna be enough.
Lonnie Spivak: You and I talked about this a little bit off air, but if you’re a conservative or center right candidate, you need to be advertising on radio. That is gonna be the best way for you to reach–
Michael Patrick Leahy: Either us or the other station.
And I, you know, I have a selfish interest in that.
Lonnie Spivak: I think both would be good, if you can afford it, but that’s the way you’re gonna reach the people who are gonna connect with your message.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Right. And they’re, you know, they, they just don’t watch the local television stations.
Yeah. It’s like they listen to our program.
Lonnie Spivak: I’ll have to say that dur, I haven’t watched the news since the 2020 election. I mean, I just don’t turn it on.
Michael Patrick Leahy: And on that happy note, Lonnie Spivak – I will see you next a week from today at the Nashville Davidson County Picnic.
When we come back. The original star panelist, Crom Carmichael.
Back after this.
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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 “Lonnie Spivak” by Lonnie Spivak. Background Photo “Warner Park” by Warner Park Nature Center.