The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper to not seek re-election

Cooper’s decision to retire at the end of his current term comes after the Tennessee redistricting plan was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee on Feb. 6.
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Sam Davis
Tennessee State Capitol, as photographed on Jan. 9, 2019. (Hustler Multimedia/Sam Davis)

Tennessee Representative Jim Cooper announced on Jan. 25 that he will not be running for re-election during the 2022 election cycle. He has served Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, which encompasses Nashville and Davidson County, since 2003.

Cooper’s decision comes after the Tennessee Senate approved Senate Bill (SB) 0781 on Jan. 20, which was signed and approved by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Feb. 7. The bill divided the 5th District into different congressional districts. 

Davidson County will now be split through downtown Nashville, grouping areas of the former 5th District into Tennessee’s 6th and 7th Districts, both historically represented by Republicans. Tennessee’s 5th District, which has traditionally been represented by Democrats, will now incorporate areas of Davidson, Williamson, Wilson, Lewis, Maury and Marshall counties.

Cooper expressed disappointment in the redistricting plan in his resignation statement, elaborating that he cannot see a way in which he could run for and win one of the three new congressional districts that now make up Nashville. 

“No one tried harder to keep our city whole,” Cooper’s Jan. 25 Twitter statement reads.

Democrats within the Tennessee House Delegation have warned that SB 0781 will weaken the power of the former 5th District’s minority and Democratic voters. Cooper, along with other Nashville Democrats, have labeled the bill as “gerrymandering,” as they claim it will favor certain voters over others. While Davidson County regularly votes for Democratic candidates, Cooper stated that grouping it with surrounding areas that lean right will make it nearly impossible for Democratic candidates to have a chance of winning in an election.

“There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates,” Cooper’s Twitter statement reads. 

The bill’s changes will be implemented for the next decade. According to Tennessee state law, redistricting must occur every 10 years in order to coincide with the U.S. census.

Cooper is the 23rd Democrat serving within the Tennessee House of Representatives to announce their resignation at the end of the current congressional term. Only seven House Republicans have made the same decision so far. Many House Democrats who have also announced their resignation have pointed to redistricting changes as one of the main drivers behind their decision, as well as “a new peak in political polarization in Congress,” per CBS

“I am announcing my decision promptly so that others have more to campaign,” Cooper said, adding that he would be returning the individual donations that he received for his reelection campaign.

In a message to The Hustler, junior Shane Mumma, Vanderbilt College Republicans president, expressed optimism for Nashville’s political outlook. Representatives of the Vanderbilt College Democrats did not respond to The Hustler’s requests for comment. 

“We’re excited for Republican Congressman Mark Green to represent Vanderbilt in his district and look forward to hosting him on campus as a guest speaker later this semester,” Mumma’s message reads.

Elections for the House of Representatives in Tennessee will occur on Nov. 8. Eligible voters can register to vote online or by mailing an application to their designated county election commission. Students over 18 living on or off-campus in Nashville are eligible to vote.

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About the Contributor
Duaa Faquih
Duaa Faquih, Former Staff Writer
Duaa Faquih ('24) is majoring in political science and minoring in communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. Apart from forcing her friends to watch videos of her cat, Duaa loves reading fantasy novels, painting and trying new restaurants. She can be reached at [email protected].
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