Voters in Nashville are heading to the polls today to vote in a wide-open mayoral race. In January, Incumbent Mayor John Cooper announced that he would not seek re-election for a second term. The announcement opened the gate for a number of serious candidates to throw their hat into the ring to succeed him. Twelve candidates in total will appear on today’s ballot. Though it is technically a nonpartisan contest, most candidates’ party affiliation is known. If no candidate achieves a 50%+1 majority of the vote, the top two finishers will move on to a September 14 runoff election. With this many candidates, many of who have a successful history in local electoral politics, a runoff election looks like the most likely outcome. Polls close at 7 p.m. (CDT). We will have the election results below once they do.
We’re also following the Tennessee State House special elections today. In the 3rd District, the seat is open following the resignation of Republican State Rep. Scotty Campbell. The resignation followed a House Ethics Subcommittee investigation which found that Rep. Campbell had violated workplace discrimination and harassment policy. The 3rd State House District lies in the northeast corner of the state covering all of Johnson County and parts of Carter, Hawkins, and Sullivan Counties. Johnson County Commissioners appointed Republican Timothy Hill, who had previously served in the State House, to fill the vacancy in the interim.
In the 51st District, the seat is vacant after Democratic State Rep. Bill Beck passed away unexpectedly back in June. The district is a heavily Democratic district contained completely within Davidson County. Two candidates are running in the Democratic primary to succeed him, including the incumbent the Davidson County Metro Council chose to serve in the seat in the interim. One Republican filed to run and will face the winner of the Democratic primary on September 14.
Finally, in the 52nd and 86th Districts, we have two special elections caused by a pair of expulsions from the statehouse. Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives after participating in a protest advocating for gun control following a deadly shooting at a Nashville area school. Their Republican colleagues claimed that they had broken House rules with their actions during the protest, and passed a resolution to expel them from the chamber. Jones and Pearson were later reinstated in unanimous votes by local councils and commissions. Tennesse law, however, says that special elections must be held in the case of expulsion from the General Assembly.