Live from Music Row Friday 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 Davidson County Republican Party Chair Lonnie Spivak in studio to discuss whether State Representative Justin Jones (D-Nashville) can legally run for his seat in District 52 and the possibility of a Republican challenger.
Leahy: In studio Dan Meredith, vice chair of the Davidson County Republican Party, and Lonnie Spivak, the chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. So you’ve put this press release out today condemning the Metro Council for voting down a resolution on school safety evaluation.
You’re urging the Metro Council to reconsider their decision and take swift action to prioritize the safety of students in schools. It was defeated 19-14. Are they going to reconsider it? Do you talk to the council members? What’s going to happen with this?
Spivak: I’ve talked to one council member at this point, and I believe it’s unlikely that they will take this resolution back up.
Leahy: Yes, I think you’re probably right because you talk about the tyranny of the majority in the Metro Council, and basically, what you have is the tyranny of the left-wing lunatic majority.
Although this makes common sense, who wouldn’t do this? Who wouldn’t want to have the police who performed so admirably at The Covenant School shooting to harden, if you will, the K-12 Metro Nashville Public Schools?
Spivak: Yes. It makes sense to us, and I really can’t say why the Metro Council would’ve voted down this resolution. I would say though, that once the council reduces from 40 members to 20 members, I believe a resolution like this would pass.
Leahy: That’s not going to happen until 2027.
Spivak: I know we have to wait till 2027, but it will happen, and it’ll make it easier, I think, for common sense measures to pass the Metro Council once.
Meredith: Do you think these people are focused on gun control that they think if they concede anything like this, that if we try to harden the schools or do anything like that then they’re conceding that something else will protect our children?
Or that they’re so focused on, no, we, we just need to get rid of guns. That’s the only thing that will save our children. And if we start talking about trying to do any kind of assessment of the schools, then we’re conceding that there’s something else that will fix it.
Spivak: Their thing is they want gun-free zones. They really don’t want SROs in all the schools.
Leahy: SRO, being a school resource officer, which is a police officer armed in the school.
Spivak: Yes. That’s coming down from the state level.
Leahy: When you say the state level, what do you mean?
Spivak: The state has passed a law that would require public schools to keep at least one SRO in the schools.
Leahy: Didn’t the governor sign that into law?
Spivak: Yes. Yes.
Leahy: So it’s a law now. Will Metro Nashville refuse to comply with that law?
Spivak: I can’t answer that.
Leahy: I don’t know that either.
Meredith: They had a program to have unarmed they call them ambassadors, I think.
Leahy: Unarmed ambassadors. What are they, shoot me first? Is that what that is? That’s crazy. I don’t even want to get into that. But the problem is if you’re trying to confront an armed person in a school and you do not have a firearm, it’s not going to end well for you.
Spivak: Obviously, it’s hard to bring a knife to a gunfight.
Leahy: So let’s talk a little bit about the 52nd State House District, which extends what, from a little bit from North Nashville out to Antioch towards the airport.
Leahy: It’s currently represented by Justin Jones at the interim appointment. He’s the interim representative there in that district, and of course, Justin Jones was one of the two who engaged in activities to incite a riot at the capitol and was expelled. And then, after he was expelled, went back and Metro Council unanimously returned him.
I will tell you that the Speaker of the House made a mistake when he seated Justin Jones because the state constitution makes it quite clear in my view that you cannot succeed yourself and that he was eligible to be an interim successor.
Now, for whatever reason, Sexton caved on that, which means that the way the state constitution reads is if a vacancy occurs, Then the county commission can select an interim successor and then there will be a special election subsequently in that instance. When is the special election primary? When’s it set for in the 52nd district?
Spivak: If I remember correctly, and I don’t have it right in front of me, the primary is in May and the general election will have to happen with the Metro elections on August 4th.
Leahy: So we’re not talking about a long time here. We did look at the law, and there is a requirement for a certain period of time. This timeline complies with that law. Now obviously, you’ve got a couple of races. You’ve got the primary race where there will be a Republican primary and a Democrat primary, and then you’ve got the general election.
First, as a point of law, because the Tennessee General’s Assembly failed to establish in a court of law the eligibility of Justin Jones to replace himself, there is still an opportunity to challenge him on the ballot.
And my argument would be the Constitution is quite clear that you cannot succeed yourself. I think if a lawsuit were filed to prohibit him from being on the ballot this session, it would ultimately succeed. Are you aware, Lonnie, of any efforts to disqualify Justin Jones from the ballot on constitutional grounds?
Spivak: I’m not currently aware of any efforts. I think in order to have standing, you’d have to be a resident in that 52nd State House district. And no one has come to me saying that they wanted to challenge his eligibility.
Leahy: Although I will tell you that may happen. We’ll see a challenge that may happen.
Spivak: We will wholeheartedly support anyone to legally challenge his ability to run.
Leahy: Now Lonnie, let me ask you this. Will a Republican-run because the last time around, there was no Republican candidate? Will there be a Republican primary in this?
Spivak: I’ve talked to several potential candidates, and I will say, at this point, I am 90 percent certain we will have a Republican candidate running in that election. But I will also say that in the 2020 election, I was 90 percent certain that Donald Trump was gonna win the reelection. But I’m fairly certain that we will have a good candidate to field that.
Leahy: All right, good. So at least you’re going to show up. The problem with that district is the demographics favor a Democrat candidate, don’t they?
Spivak: It leans heavily Democrat. I think at best; it’s an 80-20 district. The key is turnout, as it is with every election.
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 “Lonnie Spivak” by Lonnie Spivak. Background Photo “Davidson County Courthouse” by euthman. CC BY-SA 2.0.