Mayor John Cooper’s announcement earlier this month that he will not seek reelection in 2023 drew renewed attention to the race.
Several potential candidates were quick to make public their openness to running in the wake of Cooper’s decision, but now that interest is waning — at least for some.
State Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), whose dad Bill Freeman ran for mayor in 2015 and owns the Scene, says he is not planning to run because “the timing isn’t right.”
Former Mayor Megan Barry says she and her husband reached a similar conclusion after meeting with advisers over the weekend. Barry says in a note to friends that she will focus instead on her forthcoming memoir and “continuing living the life we love.”
“And most importantly, this isn’t good for our city,” adds Barry, who resigned in 2018. “We don’t need to pick that scab. I would become a distraction with all the past issues and the candidates wouldn’t spend time on talking about the stuff that really matters!”
One other potential candidate, At-Large Metro Councilmember Bob Mendes, says he is “actively considering” a campaign for mayor and will likely make a decision within 10 days. State Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville), another potential candidate, did not immediately respond to a request for an update on his decision-making process, nor did Metro Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, who said earlier this month she was exploring a bid.
The field continues to take shape, as retired AllianceBernstein executive Jim Gingrich is among the more recent entrants, and At-Large Metro Councilmember Sharon Hurt is planning a campaign kickoff on Thursday in Bordeaux. Former Metro official Matt Wiltshire and District 19 Metro Councilmember Freddie O’Connell have been fundraising and campaigning for several months.
With the state legislature eyeing an end to runoffs in Metro elections, a conservative could find a path to winning a crowded mayoral race. And a couple of potential candidates are considering bids, including Alice Rolli, a former aide to Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander. Natisha Brooks, a failed Republican congressional candidate, has filed paperwork to establish a campaign.