NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — 2021 is not an election year for state and federal seats, but that isn't stopping hundreds of thousands of dollars from already flowing into a potentially heated congressional race next year.
The primary election isn’t even until August — 10 months away, yet financial disclosures show Rep. Jim Cooper has already raised $990,866.23, more money than he did for all of the 2020 campaign.
Cooper’s Democratic primary challenger, Odessa Kelly, has already raised $412,760.39, nearly three times what Cooper’s last primary challenger, Keeda Haynes, did for last year’s election.
In last year's Democratic congressional primary, Haynes racked up 40% of the vote, to Cooper's 57% in what turned out to be a relatively close race for the incumbent that has held that seat since 2003.
Kelly says she thinks that means Nashville voters are ready for a change.
"We need people in congress who have a shared perspective of what 95% of us are going through every day, that's what people are hungry for," Kelly said. "People want to know that the person crafting public policy understands what people are going through every day in how they get to making these decisions."
Cooper attributes the buildup of money not to any primary challenger, but to the potential for the Republican-controlled redistricting process to carve up Nashville's heavily-Democratic voting district into several districts where Republicans could win.
"This time I'm trying to be prepared because we literally don't know if Nashville will be one congressional district, two three or four districts," Cooper said. "I have no idea who any opponent might or might not be, and actually far more Republicans have expressed interest in running than in Democrats."
Whatever the reason behind it — with several more months to go — even more money is poised to pour in to both campaigns.