NC5 Political Analyst: Nashville politics reshaped by Tennessee redistricting

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 19:43:31-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After 32 years in office, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, announced this week he will not seek reelection. "My decision is 100% due to the legislature’s gerrymandering," Cooper told NewsChannel 5.

When our Political Analyst Pat Nolan heard the announcement, he wasn't exactly surprised. "I felt like even if Jim Cooper had run for reelection, the ways the lines had been drawn, it was going to be very difficult, even impossible to be reelected," said Nolan.

The Republican-controlled state legislature has approved a new map that divvies up Davidson County into three different Congressional districts.

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Nolan believes what remains of Nashville in the new fifth district will likely go red in November 2022. "If Jim Cooper, who's run 30 years of Congressional campaigns, doesn't think he can win in the way that district is drawn, I can’t think of any Democrats I think will have a chance to do it. Now some will probably try to do it but I don’t like their chances very much and I suspect the bookies won’t like their chances either," he said.

What Nolan does expect is a rush for Republican candidates to enter the race for Cooper's old seat, and fast. "The whole situation with this has been compressed because the election is in November, but the primary is in August and the qualifying deadline is only a couple months away," said Nolan.

Some optimistic Democrats have suggested the plan could eventually backfire, as Nashville's population continues to grow. Their hope is, it could put Democrats in play in all three districts.

Nolan says that's possible years from now, but in the next few election cycles, that would be a big surprise. "[Democrats] haven’t been able to do anything statewide over the last 20 years, I think the Republicans thought it was a chance worth taking. That they wanted to maximize what they could get," he said.

So who might be announcing their candidacies in the new fifth district?

Nolan says people close to former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell are indicating there's about an 85% chance she'll run. Former President Donald Trump also pre-endorsed former State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, if she decides to run. Ortagus only recently relocated to Middle Tennessee. Robby Starbuck, a conservative filmmaker has already announced he's running for the Republican nomination.