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 chairman candidate Lonnie Spivak in studio to talk about his seven-point plan and the hope that he can hand over his blueprint to the Young Republicans.
Leahy: In studio, Lonnie Spivak running for chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. I’ve endorsed Lonnie. Jim Garrett, the outgoing or the current chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party, has endorsed Lonnie.
Lonnie, where do people go to sign up for this?
Spivak: You can go to votegopnashville.com, and it’ll bring you to a forum where you can pre-register for the event, but you don’t need to register to show up.
Leahy: And show up. It’s tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Tell us where.
Spivak: 9:00 am at the Millenium Maxwell House Hotel. I’d say maybe get there a little early. It may take a minute to get people in and check all their credentials.
Leahy: The big vote! Lonnie, you promised a seven-point plan, and basically, it means we’re here. The GOP is showing up in Davidson County, and elections will not be uncontested. Tell us your plan.
Spivak: One thing we can all agree on is what we’ve been doing in Davidson County as a Republican Party hasn’t been working. So the number one point on my plan is to rethink how the organization operates at every level.
I’ve got meetings set up, assuming I win on Saturday, to go through everything that we’re doing so we can examine what’s worked, and what hasn’t, and go from there. We will review and possibly adjust the current makeup of the executive committee.
Leahy: How many people are on the executive committee? This is point number two.
Spivak: Point number two. I think there are around 15 members who are appointed through the convention, but then there are also all the SEC members.
Leahy: State executive committee members.
Spivak: There are members, state executive committee members, and then there are voting members from the federated auxiliary group, such as the Republican Women and YRs and stuff. And so it’s really a very big executive committee, and we need to look at that structure and see if that’s what makes sense.
Leahy: But the executive committee plays a role to help implement the plan.
Spivak: Right. We need to be an organization that gives the ancillary groups an umbrella to sit under. We need to improve the definition of what it means to be a Republican in Nashville. There are so many people moving in.
And to be a bona fide Republican right now, you have to vote in three of the four statewide primaries, which makes it very hard for them to participate. And that’s something we’ll have to work with the state and the executive committee on. We need to improve our fundraising by reconnecting with the business community and the grassroots to improve active membership and community outreach.
Leahy: With the business community. What number is that out of the seven?
Spivak: That is number five. Number six is we just need to build a better understanding of the population of Nashville.
Leahy: Well, that’s interesting. I moved our family moved from California to Davidson County in 1991. We moved to Williamson County in 1997. I lived in Davidson County for six years. Let me just tell you something. Davidson County in 1991 was very different from Davidson County in 2023.
Spivak: If we remember, the Republicans have really controlled the state since 2010. There have been so many people moving into Nashville with the great migration, as Roger Simon talks about…
Leahy: From California, Illinois, and New York. And by the way, if you live in a blue state, you’re going to get out of there if you got a brain, right?
Spivak: I can plot on a map where people who have voted in the primary lives, but that doesn’t really tell me much because their voter turnout is so low. So we really need to have a better understanding of where the people who are moving here have moved, what their party affiliation is, and what their demographics are, and then that will help us build a structure to pick points where we can win elections.
Leahy: I would guess if you look at the population of Davidson County, the number of people that have moved into Davidson County from 1990 to 1991, it’s probably more than half of the people living in Davidson County that have moved since moved there since 1991 and since the past five years. It’s huge.
Spivak: And if you look at Florida as an example, all the millions or so people that have moved, only like 17,000 of those have registered as Democrats in the state of Florida.
Leahy: Do we have a sense of the new arrivals here in Nashville, let’s say in the last five years? Of course, we don’t have party registration for this state, but if you vote in the primaries, that’s what the party takes as your affiliation.
Spivak: I’m told that the state party has data that they can share with us. As of yet, the county party has not taken any advantage of the data that is available by the state. I’ve spoken to the gentleman who’s responsible for maintaining the data for the state party, and we’ve scheduled some time to talk.
Leahy: Data. Data as opposed to (Inaudible talk)
Spivak: We’re going to be very data-driven. It’ll give us a really good idea of where we’ll have an opportunity for pickups, and where we can recruit the best candidates. And this is going to be an incremental process for people who think we got a new chairman.
We’re going to do things new. This is not going to be an overnight process. We’re going to have to build some infrastructure in order to win elections. And as I told you last time, Michael, I only tend to do this for one term.
Leahy: How long is the term?
Spivak: It’s two years. And so I hope to have a great blueprint on how to be successful in Nashville, and then I’ll hand it over to some more younger, more energetic people who are willing to take the ball and run with it.
Leahy: So younger, more energetic. The older I get, the more I appreciate the young. And we have a group here, the Young Republicans here, they’re pretty active.
Spivak: They’re very active. Their membership has grown over the last several years. They held their reorganization meeting the other night at the Bold Patriot. It was a great turnout, and the new leadership is excited and ready to hit the ground running.
I really look forward to working with the Young Republicans, and we really need foot soldiers in Nashville, and I’m hoping that the Young Republicans will help be those.
Leahy: They’ve got the energy, for sure. Did we get to your seventh point?
Spivak: The seventh point, it’s just become more active in local politics. We’re going to start commenting on things. You will see press releases from me and the county party, and we will just be more visible and put out more opinions where the people of Davidson County know what the position of the local party is.
Leahy: And again, the election is tomorrow, and this is what would happen if you win that election tomorrow.
Spivak: If I win the election.
Leahy: And I would say it’s looking good, but in any election, your friends have to show up.
Spivak: I feel really good about where I am. I’ve met so many great people. I’ve received a broad range of support, and I’ve been endorsed by Michael Patrick Leahy.
Leahy: That’s me! I’ve endorsed you. And Jim Garrett.
Spivak: And Jim Garrett. I really think that we’re going to have a great turnout. It’ll be a great time, and then it’ll be fun and exciting to be a Republican in Nashville in the near future.
Leahy: Where do they sign up?
Spivak: They go to votegopnashville.com to pre-register.
Leahy: And where is the event tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.?
Spivak: It is at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel on Rosa Parks.
Leahy: I have a vision for the future. We get some of these YRs to be part of the executive committee. You turn it around for two years, and then one of these YRs jumps in with vigor and energy and keeps the ball moving forward.
Spivak: That’s what I’m hoping for.
Leahy: We can hope.
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 Luckiewiki. CC BY-SA 4.0.