Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Davidson County Republican Party Vice Chair Bart Smith to the newsmaker line to discuss his background, why he immigrated to the United States, and upcoming High Steaks fundraiser for school board candidate Kelli Phillips.
Leahy: On our newsmaker line, Bart Smith with Davidson Republican Party. Good morning, Bart.
Smith: Good morning, Michael – how are you?
Leahy: Great. So we’ve got two events coming up. We’ve got May 23, we have an event that’s a Monday evening, I believe, that’s a week from this coming Monday, High Steaks Meet the 5th Congressional District candidates and raise some money for Kelli Phillips, who’s running for District 4 Metro Nashville Public School Board. That should be an interesting event. I’ll be there. You’ll be there. It should be a lot of fun.
Smith: It’ll be great. And it’s a rare opportunity to see all of the Congressional District 5 Republican candidates pretty much under one roof, all coming together to support Kelli Phillips.
She’s running as one of the first people as a Republican running for the school board in Davidson County along the way.
Leahy: Where do folks go to sign up for that event one week from Monday, May 23rd at 4342 Lebanon Pike in Hermitage? High Steaks. Hmmm, sounds good, right?
Smith: Hermitage Steakhouse. You can go onto Facebook and search for the Davidson County Republican Party, the link’s there.
Or alternatively, folks can text Kelli, that’s K-E-L-L-I to 801801, and they will be able to donate to Kelli’s campaign. And then there’s a place they can put their email. We’ll send the details to them, so we can come to you.
Leahy: I’ll be there. I like steaks. I really like steaks.
Smith: It’s a fantastic place, with killer bubble bread as well.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. And then in June, there is a debate of the TN-5 candidates, and I’ll be moderating that debate. Who signed up for that so far?
Smith: That’s right. It’s on the 21st of June. And we have Mayor Andy Ogles. He’s really been leading the way on so many of our local events for the benefit of the school board candidates, which we’re so grateful for.
So Andy will be there. And then we also have Jeff Beierlein, who I know was on your show. He was in the 101st Airborne. And then we also have Stewart Parks, another local candidate born and bred in Tennessee. So we’re so grateful for them to be there. So we’re also expecting a few others to drop their names in and be there.
Leahy: So Kurt Winstead and Beth Harwell, if you’re listening, you’ve gotta show up for this one on June 21st, I would say. And then also Jenny Bachelor and Tim Lee, Trace Wittum … who have I missed? Oh, Natisha Brooks.
So that will be interesting and fun as well. But the big thing of immediate concern is to fund-raise for Kelli Phillips, who’s running for the Metro School Board.
That is a week from Monday, May 23rd. I’ll be there, and I’ll be enjoying the food, and sort of moderate the events. You can meet some of the candidates for TN-5 there.
But the main focus of that event is to help raise money for the Kelli Phillips campaign. Now, Bart, I can tell by your accent you weren’t born in Tennessee.
Smith: No, I’m not from around these parts. In fact, I’m not even a New Englander, I’m an old Englander. So I’m from Hampshire in the U.K., or a city called Portsmouth. I was blessed to have arrived on these shores about 10 years ago. I became a citizen in 2017.
And so, the way I seek to give back to this great country that’s become my home is to help conservative causes. And I found a home here in the Davidson County Republican Party.
Leahy: So, Bart, what do you do for a living and why did you come here to the U.S.?
Smith: Freedom is the reason I came here. It’s amazing. It’s like having a new sense, when you turn up and you realize you don’t have freedom of speech back where I came from. You don’t have the kind of standards that Americans just believe they’re entitled to.
Or even the right to own arms and things like this that you just take for granted. None of these things exist, even in the U.K. I work in marketing for one of the Big Four. I used to be a broker at Lloyd’s of London, and I was a campaign manager for the Conservative Party. So that’s my background.
Leahy: So you worked in marketing for one of the Big Four accounting firms, is that right?
Smith: Yes, sir, that’s right.
Leahy: What’s your educational background, Bart?
Smith: I was at the University of Kent-Canterbury and I did politics and history with kind of a focus on the British Empire and also the U.S. and the Cold War.
Leahy: Did you manage the campaign for a member of Parliament while you were over there?
Smith: That’s right, yeah. I cut my teeth actually just delivering flyers door to door to thousands of houses out of the projects in the U.K. So that’s kind of how I learned to take the fight to the Socialist or the Labor Party, as we call it out there, and then ended up being the campaign manager for Lord David Willetts and helping him. He ended up being the business minister for the British government. It’s kind of how it all ended up over there.
Leahy: Lord David Willetts, is he on the Conservative Party?
Smith: Yes, sir, very much so. He was Margaret Thatcher’s chief researcher in Ten Downing Street.
Leahy: So after you did that, though, what is it that happened in your mind that said, I got to go to the USA?
Smith: You just feel claustrophobic. You realize in the U.K. – I love my roots, but you realize that in the U.K. there’s very much a class system. It’s a suspicious thing in Britain if you want to do well and make a million dollars.
In the U.S., if you make a million dollars, traditionally, people applaud that and say, well done, this person’s entrepreneurial. In the U.K., money, and ambition are suspicious and seen as almost tacky. So if you inherited a million dollars, that would be seen as noble and proper.
But if you went around saying, hey I’m a businessman and this is what I’ve done and this is what I want to do, you could say, oh gosh look at this person. As I say, people take prosperity and ambition in this country and freedom for granted.
Listen to the interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Kelli Phillips” by Kelli Phillips.