Nashville Mayoral Candidate Brooks Supports Bill to End Runoff Elections

Nashville Mayoral Candidate Brooks Supports Bill to End Runoff Elections

Live from Music Row, Monday 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 Nashville Republican Mayoral Candidate Natisha Brooks in studio to explain her position on metro council size and run off election legislation.

Leahy: Entering the building in the studio with us, along with mayoral candidate Natisha Brooks is our favorite caller on this program, Bernadette. Good morning, Bernadette.

Bernadette: Good morning, Michael. How are you?

Leahy: First I have to apologize because I went down to get both of you to come in and apparently you said hi, I’m Bernadette, to which I was, like, not even paying attention. And so then you’re sitting in here and you start talking. You’re in the studio and I recognize that voice. Who is that? And I said, are you, Bernadette? And you said, I told you didn’t I? (Laughter) Didn’t you?

Bernadette: I did. But it’s okay, Michael. It’s okay. I forgive you. It’s Monday morning.

Leahy: How did I not hear that?

Bernadette: It’s okay.

Leahy: So the great Bernadette. We’ve been on this program now for, I guess four and a half years. And you are one of our most prolific callers, Bernadette:

Bernadette: I just really enjoy your show and I love calling in to talk to you.

Leahy: You’re gonna hang around here. You and Natisha are gonna hang around in the second half of this hour so you can get to meet Crom Carmichael.

Bernadette: I’m excited.

Leahy: Because you’ve called many a time.

Bernadette: Yes, I have.

Leahy: And now Natisha of course, I’ve been giving her a hard time about raising money and she smiled and gave me some good answers. Tell me how the two of you met, Bernadette. And Natisha is the one running for mayor.

Bernadette: Yes.

Leahy: And you’re working on her campaign?

Bernadette: Yes, I am. I had heard about her with the fifth district race and I was, In the fifth district until they redistricted me to seven. So I was really impressed with her message and the fact that she was getting into the race, considering the odds weren’t all that great, at least she was willing to fight. So when I came across my phone with a news break that she was gonna be running for mayor, I immediately reached out on Facebook.

Brooks: She did.

Bernadette: And asked that I, if I can be of any kind of assistance to her campaign because I really believe in her message and what she’s all about. I feel like she’s the best candidate for the job because she does have the heart of the people in mind and not just about money or position and power.

Leahy: That terrible thing, money. (Brooks chuckles) I keep giving you a hard time about money.

Brooks: Keep bringing it up, Michael. Keep bringing it up because it makes people say, I need to donate to the campaign. We need your cash.

Leahy: We’ll get back to Bernadette here in just a minute. I still can’t believe that she said hi, I’m Bernadette.

Bernadette: You just kept walking.

Leahy: I just kept walking. It did not register.

Bernadette: That’s quite all right.

Leahy: No, not really. But now you’re here. I’m excited to have Bernadette and Natisha in here.

Brooks: I’m excited to have Bernadette on our team.

Leahy: Crom’s going to be delighted to meet you, Bernadette. Let’s go back to Natisha. Let’s talk about two bills that passed into law and the other is under consideration. I’ll ask about the one that passed into law right now.

Metro Nashville Council has 40 members. 39 right now. Steve Glover’s resigned and hasn’t been replaced yet. 40 members. When they had full strength, the Tennessee General Assembly, passed a bill. And signed it into law.

Brooks: Yes, they did. By.

Leahy: That the Metro Council now is gonna have a maximum of 20 members?

Brooks: Yes, that’s correct.

Leahy: What are your thoughts on that thought?

Brooks: One, if you can’t get it done in 20, you probably can’t get it done in 40. Thought two. I’m still a little disturbed about the 2024 Republican Convention. We shut down the city, Michael. We said we had to shut it down during COVID and then the one time when we have our chance, downtown businesses, businesses that failed, businesses that closed, had a chance to gain the money that they lost and what do we do with the Metro Council?

We say it’s a safety concern. A safety and security concern, as if Chief Drake, the great one, can’t have security and safety for the RNC. I believe that was a huge retaliation. Now, on the metro side, they say that the state is retaliating. The main thing is this, Michael. It’s not about the red or the blue right now. It’s about the green.

It’s about the money and saving businesses. We didn’t shut the country down. We didn’t shut the city down. So if there’s going to be 40 people and the next mayor, hopefully, us, that was gonna be very difficult to work with 40 people that are already against you before you even go into the office.

And then listening audience, you have to have a mayor that is willing to work with the state legislature. And right now, Michael, they are not willing to work with the state legislature. So hey, that’s what happens.

Leahy: It’s gonna happen. It’s gonna be 20. Are you happy or you would, you have voted in favor of it? Do you think it’s a good move?

Brooks: If I was a state legislator would’ve voted in favor of it.

Leahy: Let’s talk about some more of the legislation up at the Tennessee General Assembly right now. So there’s a law, I think the chances of passing are like 50/50. And what the law would do is it would get rid of the runoff elections. Right now if there’s a race for mayor on August 3rd, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote then the top two go to a run off on September 13th.

Brooks: That is correct.

Leahy: Now this bill would change that. And it would basically say whoever gets the most votes wins on August 3rd wins. I think the odds of it passing are about 50/50 right now. Do you favor that law or do you pose it?

Brooks: Actually, I favor it and I’m gonna tell you why. One, so many people are confused right now with so many elections going on. You got May, you got August, September, October, and then the money that is put into these elections for such low turnout. Let’s just go ahead and have one election and be done with it. Plurality, not a majority.

Leahy: That would make the odds of you winning greater.

Brooks: That’s great.

Leahy: Don’t you have some self-interest in that?

Brooks: I do. That’s true, Michael. (Leahy laughs) I do have some self-interest in that. Conservatives show up, then we win the race.

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 Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Natisha Brooks” by Natisha Brooks. Background Photo “Tennessee Capitol” by Carol M. Highsmith.


Lonnie Spivak: New Bill Would Change the Nashville-Davidson County Mayoral Race Outcome, Could Favor Republicans

Lonnie Spivak: New Bill Would Change the Nashville-Davidson County Mayoral Race Outcome, Could Favor Republicans

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 Lonnie Spivak in studio to explain legislation that could give Republicans a chance at winning the Nashville mayoral race.

Leahy: We are having too much fun here. In studio with us, the chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party, Mr. Lonnie Spivak. There’s a possibility that everything you know about the Davidson County, Nashville Davidson County Mayor’s race, could change.

And that change agent is the Tennessee General Assembly. There is a bill there that would eliminate the runoff element of it. And now we’ve got eight or nine candidates that have declared. The election is scheduled for August 3rd.

The filing deadline is May 18th. And since the formation of the Metro government back in 1965 the mayor has always had to have won more than 50 percent of the vote. And the way it works is the first election is on August 3rd, the August election, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates meet in a runoff.

That’s been the way it’s been for a long time, and I think the past couple of races have had those runoffs. This year, however, that could change. Tell us what’s going on with the Tennessee General Assembly on that.

Spivak: The bill in the Senate is SB 1527 and the companion bill in the House is HB 1399. And what this bill will do is it’ll remove the runoff election element of local elections, and the winner would just have to win by a plurality vote.

Leahy: So for instance, let’s just say if this race, there are eight announced candidates right now. And let’s say the leading candidate gets 29 percent and the second candidate gets 27 percent and the third candidate gets 20 percent, and the rest are below that; in that scenario, in the current law, the 29 percent person and the 27 percent person will be the only two to make it to a runoff in September.

Spivak: Yes. That’s how it’s currently structured.

Leahy: But if this law passes the number one person in that scenario that got 29 percent, the plurality of the vote, that person would be the new mayor.

Spivak: And that this really. This bill, if it passes, will give Republicans are real shot at winning races in Davidson County and other large cities in Nashville, where the demographics currently work against us. It’s being slowed up in the Senate a little bit right now, so its passage is up in the air. It’s in the state and local government committees.

It was supposed to be brought up this week, but there were a couple of members of the committee out, so they deferred it to Monday. And so I really encourage people to contact the members of the state and local government committee and let them know that you would like for them to consider passing the runoff election bill. The language hasn’t been added to the bill yet.

It’s still just a caption, but we’ll need the committee to meet and add the language to the bill, so they consider it for passage. And in order for this to move forward, those steps need to happen. Or else we’re gonna be dead in the water and we’ll lose the best chance we’ve had in a hundred years of electing Republicans in the city of Nashville.

Leahy: Now we Republicans could probably get a candidate who gets 29 percent of the vote.

Spivak: Yes. Typically, we’re in the 23 to 27 percent of the vote, depending on how many candidates are in the race. If Republicans know that there’s a good conservative candidate in the race and they coalesce. There are enough Republicans in Nashville to get to the 35 percent mark. Donald Trump did very well in 2016 in Nashville. So we know the votes are here. We just need to get them to the polls.

Leahy: In this race now there are eight candidates. Five Democrats, two Republicans, one independent, I think, is what it looks like right now. Right now, yeah. Yeah. Sharon Hurt. She’s from the Council of Fred O’Connell from the council, Matt Wilshire, who’s been appointed. He’s a Democrat. Jeff Yarbro.

Spivak: Fran Bush.

Leahy: Oh, and then I guess Jim Gingrich. Carpetbagger.

Spivak: You like that word.

Leahy: I do. Because he is a carpetbagger, by any definition of the word. Jim, by the way, you’re welcome to come in. And then Fran Bush, a former member of the school board, a friend of ours who’s an independent, and then two Republicans, Natisha Brooks, who ran previously in the GOP primary and then Alice Rolli, Natisha and Fran have been.

Alice Rolli will be here a week from today. We’ll talk to her about it. But if you look at it either of those, let’s say of the conservatives, you might add or Republicans, you would add three candidates.

Alice Rolli, Fran Bush, and Natisha. Fran and Natisha, I think are gonna struggle to raise money. I think Al’s gonna raise some money. I don’t know exactly how much we’ll find out when she’s in, on Friday, but really right now it doesn’t look like to me, any of those three are in a position to win. Certainly in the runoff.

Maybe if they have this new law, and of course as the Davidson County Republican Party Chairman, you’re limited in what you can do in this race. Tell us about what Davidson County Republican Party can and cannot do in this mayoral race.

Spivak: I asked the state chairman Scott Golden on what the rules were in non-partisan races. There’s still a lot of ambiguity about how to handle nonpartisan races. From my aspect, there are, there is more than one Republican in the race, and it should be our position as the county party to pick between Republicans.

And so what I’m gonna be proposing to the board on the 28th is that we treat it as a partisan race that we use our PAC to run ads against candidates and ideas that we are against but really treat it as a partisan race. The ultimate decision will be up to the board, but that is how I hope to present things to the board.

It really puts us in an awkward position, and I don’t want the county party to be in a position and have a history of supporting one Republican when multiple Republicans are running.

Leahy: Yes. And that’s the situation here. And that is a very measured approach to it, and it makes a lot of sense. However, I will say that if you look at it, the opportunity here for if one single Republican candidate came out and everybody focused on that candidate and that candidate had money and was credible, I think that candidate would be able to, get up to 35 percent of the vote. And then if this law were to pass, Democrats’ heads would explode.

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

– – –

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.


Davidson County Republican Party Chair Spivak Explains Bill That Would Change 2023 Statewide Elections

Davidson County Republican Party Chair Spivak Explains Bill That Would Change 2023 Statewide Elections

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 Chair Lonnie Spivak in studio to explain a current bill that would alter 2023 elections statewide.

Leahy: Lonnie Spivak, our guest, the chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. Here’s a note to all guests who come in studio. The best way to gain favor with the host is to bring him a waffle from Waffle House. (Spivak chuckles) I’ve been doing this for four years. Nobody has ever brought me a waffle from Waffle House as you have, Lonnie, and you have made my day.

Spivak: That’s great. It seems like we both had a hard time sleeping last night.

Leahy: We did.

Spivak: A little extra caffeine and little sugar never hurt anybody.

Leahy: (Chuckles) And even if I end up dead, who cares, right? Tell us, what might happen to elections in 2023 if this bill passes the Tennessee General Assembly?

Spivak: The consensus in the room yesterday was that the trimming down of the Metro Council from 40 to 20 is going to pass, and it’s going to pass without any amendments. And so that would require Metro Nashville to draw new districts and everything.

If they’re able to get that done by May 1st, then the new Metro elections with the smaller council will happen this year. But Metro says there’s just no way. It takes a minimum of six weeks to get anything through the Metro Council.

It just doesn’t seem like it’s going to be possible for Metro to get the Metro council districts redrawn and ready for an election this year. In that case, the way the law is written, the mayor and vice mayor elections would be this year, and the new Metro Council elections will be next year. The council that gets elected next year will serve a three-year term, and then they’ll be back on schedule.

So that being said, it looks like there’ll be a mayor and vice mayor election this year without council elections. And then there’s one other bill that they’re considering, which is whether or not to do away with runoff elections in the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: That’s a separate bill.

Spivak: It’s a separate bill.

Leahy: If that bill were to pass, would it apply to this August 3rd, 2023, mayoral election here in Nashville as it is written right now?

Spivak: The way I understand it, if there are not any amendments, it will take place this year.

Leahy: What would that mean for the mayoral election?

Spivak: What that would mean is if there were 14 Democrats in the race and one strong Republican. The likelihood of a strong Republican candidate winning the election with a majority of votes is much greater.

Leahy: Majority or plurality?

Spivak: Plurality.

Leahy: You mean a plurality.

Spivak: Plurality. Right.

Leahy: So let’s just run this through. That would mean if there’s no run-off this time around and the Republicans gathered around one candidate, and let’s say the Republican got 25 percent of the vote, and then let’s say the leading Democrat got 23 percent and the others got less than that. If that no runoff bill came about and you got elected by plurality, the Republican would win. Is that right?

Spivak: That’s correct. The way it works right now is if the Republican had 25 percent of the vote and the Democrat had 23 percent of the vote, there’d be a run-off, and most likely, the Democrat would win in the runoff because of the demographics of Nashville.

But if this law passes and it won’t just affect Nashville, it’s going to be a statewide thing, as I understand it, where there will be no run-off elections in the whole state. That gives the Republicans an opportunity to pick up seats and win elections in areas that they wouldn’t normally win if it was based on a majority of votes.

Leahy: That bill will be very controversial here in Nashville because it’s such a change. Since we’ve gone to this metro form of government, there’s never been a Republican or conservative elected mayor.

Spivak: And the one thing that’s interesting about Nashville is its non-partisan elections. And now we all know that the politics in Nashville is as partisan as it gets. But the elections themselves, you don’t run as a Republican or a Democrat. They’re non-partisan.

Leahy: What’s the likelihood that that bill will pass?

Spivak: (Sighs) The people I spoke to yesterday felt pretty confident that it will pass. You never really know what’s going to happen in the State House or what kind of amendments may be put on it. Both bills are currently sitting in committees. They haven’t progressed yet. But the sense that I got in the room was there was a likelihood that it would pass.

Leahy: Interesting. Well, that throws a real curveball into the mayoral election, doesn’t it?

Spivak: I think it would, for sure.

Leahy: It would enhance the likelihood, I think, that a conservative candidate or a moderate Republican candidate if the Republicans got behind that individual, it would have the likelihood that that person would become mayor.

Spivak: I agree. Now in my position that I’m in and the elected boards of the Republican Party in Nashville, obviously we can’t pick favorites among Republicans. We can support efforts as a whole, as a group. We can put maybe negative things out against opponents, but we cannot actively support a variety of Republicans. We cannot actively support one Republican in a race, if multiple declare.

Leahy: In a non-partisan election, how does that impact those rules about the Republican Party?

Spivak: I’ll have to look into that. I’m going to go on the understanding that I’m not going to be able to support candidates. But I’m still pretty new in the position. So I’ll have to reach out to Chairman Golden and the other parliamentarians in the State Party and get an actual opinion on that. I’m not sure.

Leahy: It’s kind of an odd situation, isn’t it? If you take a look at it, only one Republican has announced, Natisha Brooks. Fran Bush self-identified as an Independent, not as a Republican. It’s a lot of twists and turns there, isn’t it?

Spivak: There is. It’s going to be an interesting time, and I really look forward to what it’s going to hold for the candidates.

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 “Lonnie Spivak” by Lonnie Spivak. Background Photo “Davidson County Courthouse” by Luckiewiki. CC BY-SA 4.0.