Clint Brewer: ‘Senator Jeff Yarbro Is a Significant Addition to the Field for Mayor’ of Nashville

Clint Brewer: ‘Senator Jeff Yarbro Is a Significant Addition to the Field for Mayor’ of Nashville

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:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith 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.















All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer Reviews Announced and Potential Candidates for Nashville, Davidson County Mayor

All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer Reviews Announced and Potential Candidates for Nashville, Davidson County Mayor

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 all-star panelist Clint Brewer in studio to discuss the announced Nashville mayoral candidates and their possibilities of winning.

Leahy: In studio, all-star panelist, Clint Brewer, who will not run for mayor of Davidson County.

Brewer: Let’s not make anybody think that was a possibility.

Leahy: For anybody in our listening audience, nor will I run for mayor of Nashville, Davidson County, or run for anything ever. A man’s got to know his limitations. From the great Clint Eastwood in the movie Unforgiven. The best line of a movie ever.

Brewer: I think it’s a good line. He said it several times, too.

Leahy: That’s right. Now let’s see who might be out there who thinks that running for mayor might be within their limitations.

Brewer: There’s a long list of potential candidates.

Leahy: The announced candidates are Matt Wilshire, who claims to be kind of a centrist. He’s not. He’s a far lefty. He’s raised a million bucks. Matt, you’re welcome to come on, we’ll talk to you. He rode crew at Dartmouth. We know that. Way back when.

Brewer: I don’t know that he’s far left.

Leahy: Yes, he is.

Brewer: It’s going to be hard to get elected in Nashville, not being a little left. My dealings with Matt, he’s a business guy. He understands public-private partnerships. He’s a legitimate candidate.

Leahy: He does. He’s raised a million bucks. But, Matt, I think you’re far left. Really, you can tell everybody you’re not, but you’re welcome to come in and disabuse me of that notion. That’s me talking, not you Clint Brewer. Just to be clear. Now, also, Freddie O’Connell, now, that’s a far-left guy.

Brewer: Yes, Freddie, I guess my diagnosis of these folks is different. I’m not really judging them based on left or right. I’m judging them on whether they could govern the city. Like Matt, Freddie is also a really smart guy.

Leahy: Freddie is probably a Bernie Sanders guy.

Brewer: Yes. He’s one of the top three. But I’m having a hard time imagining Metro Council functioning without Freddie there because he understands the parliamentary procedure. He understands how to move legislation through. He’s a really smart guy.

Leahy: He’s a Bernie Sanders guy. Freddie, you can come in. He’s a Bernie Sanders guy.

Brewer: Judging by the beard.

Leahy: No, he said he’s a Bernie Sanders guy. But Freddie, you could come in and defend yourself.

Brewer: He really understands the symbiosis between business and development and city and progress.

Leahy: I’m starting to get sick here now when you say that, Clint. But let’s talk about Sharon Hurt.

Brewer: He gets it. Sharon is a longtime leader in Nashville. She runs a very robust nonprofit focused on Jefferson Street.

Leahy: At-large. A nice person.

Brewer: Astute person.

Leahy: Very left winger.

Brewer: Well, you’re not going to get a right-winger Mike.

Leahy: Well, maybe we will Clint. Maybe somebody listening to this program right now.

Brewer: Not somebody who can win.

Leahy: It’s 70/30 right now, wouldn’t you say? It’s a 70/30 breakdown between Democrat-Republican in Davidson County?

Brewer: Yeah, maybe.

Leahy: What do you think its more like?

Brewer: 75/20.

Leahy: That bad? Okay. Who out there have delusions of grandeur?

Brewer: Delusions of grandeur. Somebody who’s been mentioned frequently in the context of the mayor’s races at-large councilman Bob Mendes.

Leahy: Bob looks in the mirror and sees the future mayor of Nashville.

Brewer: Bob could be a future mayor of Nashville. Bob’s an attorney again. He’s one of those people that actually forces the Metro Council to function and he’s proven himself an able leader.

Leahy: He’s a smart guy. He’s far left.

Brewer: They’re all far left. Let’s just leave that out.

Leahy: I don’t want to leave it out. I don’t like it. (Chuckles)

Brewer: Let’s just start and say they’re all to the left of center and just accept that to debate.

Leahy: Will Bob Mendes jump into the race?

Brewer: I don’t know. It’s an open seat now.

Leahy: It’s always easier to win an open seat, isn’t it?

Brewer: Yes, but I mean, here’s the thing. If I’m, Bob, or anybody who hasn’t announced already and accepted the realities of the job, you are inheriting not one, but two gargantuan and possibly unpopular deals that you either have to kill or cut.

Leahy: Which are those deals?

Brewer: The Titan Stadium.

Leahy: Gargantuan, bad deal. As we’ve talked about.

Brewer: The race track at the fairgrounds. That deal.

Leahy: You also have the problem of unfunded health care benefits for retirees.

Brewer: I’m just talking about the surface stuff. Then you’ve got all of the regular deep problems of the Metro government, from the pension to the school system.

Leahy: Which is terrible. And by the way, the policy of Cooper has been to say, whatever your budget is, we’ll give you that and more and do whatever you want, and we’re not going to hold you accountable.

Brewer: But here’s the thing, and I think the press has a big failing in this city. They keep reporting, Mayor Cooper announces half a million dollars for this and $50 million for that. And nobody ever says, but do we actually have the money?

Leahy: We don’t.

Brewer: It gives this illusion that we just have all this money to spend in Nashville. And I don’t think that’s the case.

Leahy: Since we’re purely speculating.

Brewer: Wait, let me finish.

Leahy: Go ahead.

Brewer: A really smart guy like Bob Mendes is going to know that. And I think if the people who aren’t already in the race, they’ve got to make a decision. Do I want to bite all this off? Because it’s like the Titans thing, the racetrack, it’s lose-lose, right? And you got to say what you’re going to do.

Leahy: Let me throw some names out. Beth Harwell.

Brewer: No.

Leahy: You don’t think she would run?

Brewer: No.

Leahy: And if she ran, she wouldn’t win.

Brewer: No.

Leahy: Okay.

Brewer: Are you just trying to find somebody to the ride of center?

Leahy: I’m trying to find somebody.

Brewer: Get your head and heart…

Leahy: I think this is an opportunity for Davison County Republicans to find somebody who’s not a complete lefty. Maybe they have to settle for center-left or maybe center. The center-right might be a little bit too far to go here in Davidson County. But before we get to the speculation game with throwing names out, which is always fun, what would a newcomer to this race need in terms of money to run for mayor?

Brewer: With an open seat, I think the table stakes to get to a run-off is $2.5, $3 million.

Leahy: I think $3 to $5 million, ultimately.

Brewer: Ultimately is what you need. That’s getting to a run-off and finishing, maybe losing, maybe not.

Leahy: And you can’t raise three to $5 million from a cold start. You kind of have to have that.

Brewer: You’ve got to have some of it. To jump in at this point, yes. And that’s really talking about competing with the top tier of the candidates in terms of fundraising. Can somebody run an insurgent campaign from the back?

Leahy: And catch 10 percent?

Brewer: I think that would have happened.   Look, Matt Wiltshire is clearly leading. He’s got the organization.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Freddie O’Connell” by Freddie O’Connell. Photo “Sharon Hunt” by Sharon Hunt. Photo “Matt Wiltshire” by Matt Wiltshire. Background Photo “Nashville City Hall” by Nicolas Henderson. CC BY 2.0.