John Cooper leads in Nashville mayoral election, requiring Sept. 12 run-off vote

If Briley loses, he would be the first Nashville incumbent mayor to lose an election


Claire Barnett

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Former Hustler Multimedia/Claire Barnett)

Eva Durchholz, Campus Editor

After Metro Council At-Large Member John Cooper won 35 percent of the Aug. 1 vote for Nashville’s new mayor, a run-off vote was scheduled for Sept. 12 so that a candidate may get the required majority vote required by Tennessee state law to elect a mayor.

Incumbent Nashville Mayor David Briley came in behind Cooper with 25 percent of the vote in an election that could be historic. If Briley loses this run-off on Sept. 12, it will be the first time in Nashville history that a mayor will have lost the mayoral election as an incumbent.

Former Vanderbilt Professor Carol Swain lagged only slightly behind incumbent Briley with 22 percent of the vote. State Representative John Ray Clemmons sat behind Swain, receiving 16 percent of the vote.

Briley is an unusual incumbent because he was elected in a special election following former Mayor Megan Barry’s scandal, and has been in office 17 months compared to the usual incumbent mayor’s four-year tenure. 

Cooper is also in a unique position given that he largely self-funded his campaign, contributing nearly $1.5 million of personal funds, trumping Briley’s $1.1 million fundraised overall. Although the mayoral elections are non-partisan, Cooper has gained traction by appealing to fiscal conservatism. 

In the lead up to the run-off election, Cooper and Briley will be fighting to win over the right-leaning Swain voters and left-leaning Clemmons voters. Early voting for the run-off election will begin on August 23.