David Briley Wins Nashville Special Mayoral Election With 55% of the Vote

David Briley

NASHVILLE, Tennessee–Acting Mayor David Briley won the Nashville/Davidson County special mayoral election on Thursday, winning 55 percent of the vote in a field of 13 candidates, easily clearing the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.

Former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain finished in second place with 23 percent of the vote.

At-Large Metro Council Member Erica Gilmore finished in third place with 5.6 percent, State Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville) finished in fourth place with 5.4 percent, former talk radio host Ralph Bristol finished in fifth place with 5.2 percent, and jeff obafemi carr finished in sixth place with 4.7 percent.

The other seven candidates on the ballot received 2 percent of all votes cast.

The final election turnout of slightly more than 80,000 was higher than had been expected, a sign perhaps that the uptick in the last three days of early voting continued into election day. Much of that uptick appears to have been driven by get-out-the-vote activities of the Briley campaign.

Though Briley’s support of the $9 billion transit plan, which voters rejected overwhelmingly on May 1 by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin, among other political issues, left him vulnerable to potential rivals, his huge fundraising advantage–he raised $720,000 compared to nearest rival Swain, who raised $115,000–combined with a sophisticated political operation put him over the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright and avoid a runoff.

The Briley campaign reportedly hired canvassers who knocked on more than 25,000 doors, and robo-called an additional 20,000 households.

This get-out-the-vote push appeared to kick in during the last three days of early voting, where turnout jumped up to more than 19,000–a dramatic increase from the 15,000 who turned out during the first 11 days of early voting.

That same get-out-the-vote push by the Briley campaign apparently continued on election day, when more than 45,000 residents of Nashville/Davidson County voted, a higher than usual election day increase over the slightly more than 34,500 that turned out in early voting.

Turnout was still less than the 123,000 that turned out for the May 1 transit plan election referendum, but 80,000 plus was significantly greater than the much lower total turnout expected after the first 11 days of anemic early voting.

Second place finisher Swain conceded and congratulated Briley on his victory shortly after 9 p.m. at her campaign’s election watch event held at the University Club of Nashville. The former Vanderbilt professor left open the possibility that she might run for mayor again in the August 2019 election, in the election for a full four year term.

Little changed between the final outcome Thursday when compared to the results of The Tennessee Star Poll on the mayoral race published on April 16, with the exception that Briley and Swain each improved their position by between 12 and 14 points.

For Briley, that 12 point improvement put him over the 50 percent threshold he needed to reach to avoid a runoff.

In that Tennessee Star Poll, conducted of likely registered voters in Davidson County over the two day period April 12 to April 13, Briley was in first place with 43 percent of the vote, Swain was in second with 9 percent, Bristol was in third with 7 percent, and Gilmore was at 5 percent.

Briley’s $720,000 helped improve his support by 12 points, from 43 percent in the April Tennessee Star Poll to 55 percent on election day.

Swain’s $115,000 helped improve her support by 14 points, from 9 percent in the April Tennessee Star Poll to 23 percent on election day.

Bristol’s $12,000, combined with a poor performance at one of the mayoral forums, lowered his support from 7 percent in the April Tennessee Star Poll to 5 percent on election day.

The other candidates’ support remained relatively unchanged from The Tennessee Star Poll in April to election day.

Briley’s 32 point margin over second place finisher Swain on election day was virtually the same as his 34 point margin over Swain in the April Tennessee Star Poll.

With 95 percent of all precincts reporting, the total votes received by candidate, according to News Channel5, were:

Candidate           %        Total Votes
David Briley  54.6%         43,925
Carol M. Swain 22.6%    18,222
Erica Gilmore 5.6%          4,495
Harold M. Love 5.3%       4,293
Ralph Bristol 5.2%           4,200
Jeff Obafemi Carr  4.7% 3,746
David L. Hiland      0.4%   318
Ludye N. Wallace  0.4%    318
Julia Clark-Johnson 0.3%238
Carlin J. Alford      0.3% 233
Jon Sewell                0.2% 195
Albert Hacker         0.2% 171
Jeffrey A. Napier   0.2% 135

Total 80,489

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16 Thoughts to “David Briley Wins Nashville Special Mayoral Election With 55% of the Vote”

  1. […] easily clearing the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election, The Tennessee Star reported at the time. Former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain finished in second place with 23 percent of […]

  2. Donna Locke

    Let me suggest running a truly conservative candidate next time. Someone who is fiscally conservative, good on immigration enforcement, not theocratic, and is keen on staying OUT of other people’s private lives and realizing that, constitutionally, the government does not belong there. This means refraining from telling LGBT people how to run their lives, and staying out of private decisions on abortion, for starters.

    David Fox had a good chance, once, and ruined it with bad campaign advice.

    I like Carol on immigration but not on her wishes to institutionalize her religious views.

    The outer Metro ring will eventually tire of the Nashville mess.

    I live safely away from there, but, in time, none of us will be far enough away.

  3. Donna Locke

    Bye, Nashville.

  4. Stuart I. Anderson

    Perhaps my timing is off, but I have been curious about something since moving here in 1992 viz.

    1. Brian McMurphy

      Because the schools suck and they raised property taxes years ago. Most moved to the surrounding counties to be left alone and raise their kids in peace.

      Personally, I grew up here during desegregation in the 80s so I got bussed across town while a perfectly good school a few miles away got filled with kids from the side I was delivered. That marked the beginning failure after failure.

      Make no mistake, Nashville has grown. In spite of liberal mayors not because of them. If Tennessee had not remained an income tax free state. None of the businesses populating this area would be here today to prop up largesse like $80M minor league baseball stadiums, illegally directing funds to try and wrangle a soccer team to the Fairgrounds, or goat yoga for the homeless…er, excuse me, our free range citizenry that clog every interstate exit.

  5. Brian McMurphy

    lb: Amen to all of that. Monday morning QBing, Swain has never held any political office and was able to manage a 2nd Place showing against Nashville’s entrenched kleptocracy with zero help.

    Most tv stations only mentioned Briley, Gilmore and Love as running. Channel 5 certainly has their share of affable Eva Brauns in HD.

    Everything about the Davidson County GOP and TNGOP is spot on. A bunch of nowhere men.


    A cursory look at the Davidson GOP Twitter account shows one retweet of something Swain said on Monday and an invitation to the election night watch party:

    Lots of tweets for loser luncheons and Taco Tuesdays. It’s a social club for people who have no desire to lead.

    I will note that former Davidson County Republican Party Chair Tom Lawless endorsed Megan Barry for Mayor and Kasich for President.

    I don’t have enough middle fingers.

    The TNGOP? Nothing at all.

    All they do is bash Dean and Bredesen which, I guess, you need to do when your Corker incumbent is campaigning for the Democrats and Alexander caucuses with them. And your Governor wishes he could vote with them so he’ll just let a bill become law without signing it.

    This is why the two party system is broken. Democrats are the enemy and the Republican Party is the enemy within. Roosters taking credit for the sun coming up in the morning by offering these milquetoast turncoats at the senate and governor level and not even trying below that.

    They are supposed to be the opposition. Instead, they just like assuming the position.

  6. Bob

    Total fail for Nashville. Repubs needed to back 1 candidate.

  7. lb

    One more comment: I am SICK of the TNGOP who has effectively abandoned their voters in Davidson County. When the Transit vote was held and all the Judges and other officials were to be elected I was ANGRY they couldnt field ONE–not ONE candidate for any race. That is disgraceful. THAT is how the progressives have taken over this county/city. When the other side doesnt even bother to show–the results are predictable.
    SHAME on them for not jumping into this race behind Carol. The Dems were full on in support of briley–who cares if it is supposed to be “nonpartisan”–everyone knows that is never the case.

  8. lb

    43,925 misguided ppl voted for that lightweight briley. A combined 35,489 voted for someone ELSE. I dont think “landslide” is the term that should be used when close to half of the voting public DONT want briley to be mayor.

    That being said, Carol needed more $ and lots more ads. There was a bigtime smear campaign about her too.

    Ralph lost me a long time ago, I stopped listening to his program when he was fully supporting the gas tax. Anyone who dared to call in and disagree or make valid points, he was rude, arrogant and dismissive of them. I heard him do that to two very reasonable people and turned him off never to listen again,
    Del Giorno on radio was obnoxious about ralph. He was openly rude and insulting to Carol. Ralph’s interview with him was cringe worthy and arrogant.
    I hope Carol stays in and active and runs again next year because I know briley is not up to the job and it will soon show very clearly

  9. John J.

    After I read this story, all I wanted to do was…Ralph! I just makes me sick, to think who stupid people are.

  10. Jeff

    I hope Dr Swain will consider running again next year.

  11. Joe Public

    Nashville has been politically circling the drain for several years. This morning there is a loud flushing noise coming from the middle of the state. Nashville is lost.

  12. Brian McMurphy

    So the Accidental Mayor gets more time on the clock to show his utter incompetence. Few things are guaranteed in life but David Briley being a tone deaf, abject moron is one of them.

    The difference is now some people who wanted nothing to do with him from their establishment apparatus will sign on as they don’t want to miss out on more kickbacks to their “pockets of poverty”.

    Democrats are going to Democrat.

    Maybe TNGOP will finally pull their collective fists out of their own posteriors and see they threw away the best chance they’ve had since Reconstruction to get a Republican in the Mayor’s office here.

    Oh, and Ralph…you can leave now. If the best you can muster after so many years on the radio as the sole “conservative” voice in Middle TN is the amount of people who go through one Chik-Fil-A’s drive thru, any further vanity attempts rely on a stunning lack of self-awareness.

    1. Stan Mckinnon

      Ditto on the Ralph comment. Good for entertainment, bad for elected office

  13. 83ragtop50

    More of the insanity that has been around at least from the Dean administration. All I can say is that Nashville/Davidson County will get what it deserves – higher taxes, graft and debt that cannot be repaid. the only problem with that is that all of this spills over into the surrounding counties that would much prefer a conservative and sane approach.

  14. Mary

    Stupid people.