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. – official guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed newly elected GOP chair for Davidson County Jim Garrett to the newsmakers line to discuss his priorities moving forward and his optimism for conservatives.
Cunningham: We’ve got a great guest now, and it’s a guy that has a big challenge. Jim Garrett is the newly re-elected chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. Jim, good morning.
Garrett: Good morning, Ben. Good morning, Grant. How are you all?
Cunningham: We’re doing great. Thanks so much for getting up early with us. We really appreciate it.
Garrett: Since I’ve retired a couple of years ago, I have generally taken the sixth and the seven off of my clock. (Cunnigham chuckles) Well, we are doubly impressed that you’re with us.
Thanks so much and congratulations on the re-election. I think the term is the reorganization was this weekend and you were elected chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. And congratulations on that.
Garrett: Thank you very much. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Cunningham: I know you are a dedicated conservative. And being a dedicated conservative in Davidson County is not an easy job because Davidson County is one of the blue counties that conservative Republicans in Tennessee, you have to deal with and along with Shelby County and a few others. But Davidson and Shelby are the two biggies.
What is it like being the chair of the Republican Party in a blue County? What are the challenges you guys are facing?
Garrett: The challenges we face are those very similar to what the Republicans across the country they’re facing. We’ve got a very energized opposition. The Democrat Party is very energized here in Davidson County.
They are somewhat organized and they’re in charge. So they killed us with COVID. Our reorganization normally would have happened in the first quarter of an odd number of years. We do it every two years.
But because of what John Cooper and his Health Department were doing, we had to postpone and postpone and postpone and finally got it done in May much later than we would have normally done it.
Cunningham: I hadn’t even thought about that. All the code restrictions affected, obviously, your ability to come together, didn’t it?
Garrett: We couldn’t have more than eight people for most of our meetings. So we’ve been doing Zoom meetings the last several months we have been in person, but we did spend all 2020 year in Zoom meetings meeting every month for our executive committee. And the restrictions, yes, they hurt us quite a bit.
Henry: Hey, Jim. Grant Henry here. I have a question based on reports I’ve been reading in reports and you get this general sense and an almost palpable feeling that there’s a conservative resurgence happening here in Middle Tennessee.
Tomi Lahren moved to town. Candace Owens lives here now. Ben Shapiro up and moved the entire Daily Wire crew and 85 employees to Nashville. You get this feeling almost that for some of the under 40 conservatives it’s the place to be in this happening city?
Do you think that’s going to have an impact at all on how the GOP operates in Davidson County? Or is that just a little bit too naive of me?
Garrett: It is not naive at all. On my end of the telephone, I get three or four calls a day from people wanting to get involved. Our website gopnashville.org has got buttons on there for volunteering and contributing.
But the volunteer button three or four times a day. I’ll get an email from the website saying that this person or that person wants to do it. And it’s just fun to watch. Of the 14 members that we elected to the office of the executive committee this time, five of us there are 15.
But five of us are returning people who’ve been around for a while. 10 of them, though, are people relatively new to Davidson County. They’ve got a great experience where they did live in the Republican Party.
They work with state legislators, state offices. They were chairman of their parties out in California, up in New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia. And they bring with them a vast experience. And energy that I haven’t seen before here in Davidson County. I’m excited. I’m not excited a bit awed of where I think we can go and what we can do.
Cunningham: Jim, the people talk all the time about the Metro Council and the fact that basically is, except for Steve Glover and a few others, it is pretty much a bastion of the far left. How do we crack that nut, so to speak?
Garrett: We have a chance right now. We’re going through that here in the state with the 2020 census and the redistricting. We’re looking at redistricting. I set out the beginning of this year with four objectives basically based on each quarter.
My first quarter was the reorganization. We got that done late, but we got it. The second quarter is working with the General Assembly on redistricting for our state House seats here in Davidson County and our state senate seats here in Davidson County.
But then recruiting candidates in the third quarter for 2022 and in training those candidates in the fourth quarter for 2022. But that brings us to 2023. And again, we’ll go through a redistricting for 2023 and the council race.
We are going to be working to try to get lines drawn that would give us a chance in certain areas. We have good Republican people here. Trump got 100,000 votes or something like that in Davidson County.
So we’ve got a body of people. They’re also silent. They’re also quiet. They’ve been beaten down, but I think if we can energize them, the council race will change. I don’t expect this to get a majority of 21 people out of that 40.
I don’t expect that at all, but I would like to see us get 10 to 15 solid Republicans in there. And if we do that, we can certainly change what this Metro Council does what direction they go.
Henry: Jim, you may have just answered this question with that statement you just made, but if someone were to call in, if they’re listening right now, if they’re thinking, Hey, I just moved to Davidson County and I want to get involved in local GOP group.
What’s your top priority issue? What’s the thing you need them to work on the most? What do you need the most help with right now? Is it those council races?
Garrett: No. Council races are 2023. It’s 2022 that we are focused on right now, and we need candidates for state House. We need some representation in the state house here, and we’ve got 10 state House seats and none of them are a Republican right now, and we’ve got to change that. So our next main focus will be candidates for the 2022 race.
Henry: Jim, do you see any one seat more vulnerable than the others say within Davidson County at the state house level?
Garrett: There are some seats that are not vulnerable at all, and we probably won’t touch them. But there are other seats that are. You’ve got five who have decided not to run again. That seat is going to be uncontested.
I think Bo Mitchell in House seat 50 is at risk. The people out there don’t like Bo. Bo is the only legislator that I’ve been down to the capital that has actually got up and walked out of his office. He insulted me at a time.
And I just got up and walked out of the meeting with him. That man is an evil man, in my opinion, but I think he’s vulnerable out there. There’s probably a couple of others.
Cunningham: Obviously, Mayor Cooper has been a disappointment. A lot of conservatives had faith in him that he would be a fiscal conservative, but that faith has been completely blown away.
Garrett: Oh, absolutely. I was at a friend’s house when we had to get together and Cooper was there talking about how conservative he was and it was a bi-partisan race and that he’s basically a conservative.
And then the first thing he does out of the pot is to raise our taxes 34 or 37 percent depending on where you live. I think Cooper right now with this referendum that’s going on, is scared to death that it will pass and we will get that voter list and get the voter numbers turned down because he’s vulnerable for a recall. And I do believe he is vulnerable for a recall.
Cunningham: Well, Jim, we are up against the break. Give us that website one more time if you would before we leave.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Photo “Davidson County Republican Party” by Davidson County Republican Party.