Nashville Mayor’s Race Gets Ugly

Election night update:

Going negative failed.

Dear David Fox: you had me at “focus on our infrastructure” and “we don’t want to be Atlanta.” You lost me at the pathetic “Megan Barry is a godless liberal” BS.

For my non-Nashville readers, we in Music City will elect a brand-new mayor on Thursday. The incumbent was term-limited, so August’s general election presented voters with a large buffet of fresh faces. Now we have a runoff between the top two contenders: Megan Barry, most recently an at-large councilmember, and David Fox, a hedge fund guy and former chair of our school board.

Nashville’s mayoral races are non-partisan, though Nashville is a blue dot in red Tennessee. This means most viable candidates for office are usually Democrats — or at least they say they are. And in my 30 years in this town I’ve always known our mayoral races to be mostly drama-free affairs. Not this time, though.

The first sign this campaign was headed to crazy town was when Fox’s wife, Carrington Fox, appeared in ads saying Barry championed causes that are the “extreme issues of the social left.” What those causes may be are left to the imagination. Doesn’t matter.

The message was clear: Barry is a LIBERAL. Gasp.

Not long after that, the Fox campaign started running radio ads in African-American markets calling Barry an atheist.

OH. A godless liberal.

Now we’ve hit a new low with some ex-councilmembers of the conservative persuasion making the ludicrous claim that Barry omitted “under God” every time she recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of council meetings.

And I guess she forgot to wear a flag pin, too?

This ridiculous labeling — liberal, atheist, godless liberal — is extraordinary for a mayoral race in Nashville. It’s the kind of thing one is more accustomed to seeing in hotly contested senate races, even presidential races. The fact that Fox is working with conservative groups out of Texas may explain some of this strategy. Others have suggested Fox’s real ambition is the governor’s seat, and this mayoral race is just a “branding” exercise toward higher, statewide office. Maybe.

I will say, there is an awful resonance to these attacks on Megan Barry. Are we really wondering if she says “under God” when she recites the Pledge of Allegiance? What next, rumors that she’s a secret Muslim? Studied at a madrassa? Maybe she was born in Kenya, too? Hey, David Fox: should we ask to see her birth certificate?

These are ugly, personal attacks, and while they don’t have the same racial undertones of the right-wing’s attacks on President Obama, they come from the same place. Label the opposition as “other,” “different,” and “not one of us.”

In other words: Unfit for office.

This is Politics 101 for national races. Making it a part of our supposedly non-partisan local races? Uh-uh. You lost me. Voting for David Fox is endorsing the kind of smear tactics that have infected our national discourse for the past 8+ years. Do I want this dirty pool to pollute my city? No, thanks.

10 Comments

Filed under Nashville, politics

10 responses to “Nashville Mayor’s Race Gets Ugly

  1. Kathleen

    I thought Teddy Conrad was mayor until he got arrested at the end of last season for….Oh. I’m sorry. I’m confusing reality with the season finale of Nashville. Is there a future for me as a guest on Meet The Press?

  2. Shutter

    Aww, thats kinda cute actually, bringing out the ol’ Tried ‘n True mud from the bottomless pit. “Athiest”… wow, brings back those fond memories of California attack politics in the 60’s as does the classic smear extremist. Jeez, I had forgotten how much fun politickin’ used to be. So classy to have the Little Woman do the slinging while leaving Her Man to be the Guiding Light of moderation and reason.

  3. The jarring part for me was how progressive all of the campaigns were in the election to determine the run-off contestants, But when the run-off came, Fox turned shockingly conservative.

  4. greennotGreen

    Frankly, I’m too partisan to be non-partisan. I don’t want to give anyone who’s crazy enough to be a member of the current Republican party any stepping stone to higher office.

    Fox’s ad that said Barry was too liberal for Nashville was all I needed to decide I was definitely voting for Megan.

  5. Duke of Clay

    But is she an “obamaliberal” like the Democratic candidate for governor here in Kentucky.

  6. CB

    Looks like the mudslinging in Nashville has been picked up by both the Tennessean AND the New York Times, according to my Google machine. This could get interesting.🙂

  7. How long will it be until Scientology becomes, “Mainstream Christian”?