(Editor’s note: With the Metro run-off election less than two weeks away and early voting in its second week, The Tennessee Holler will take an in-depth look at several of the hotly contested Metro Council run-off races. In the second of the series, we review the race in District 16, which encompasses the Woodbine and Glencliff neighborhoods and portions of Nolensville Road.)
Salacious rumors, hardball tactics and outright gossip go with run-off elections like football and fall.
But, based on comments on the Facebook page, “16th District Nashville” page, the postcard that landed in Metro Council District 16 was distasteful beyond the norm to many voters.
“This is shameful and embarrassing for our district, regardless of who paid for it,” said Jamie Hall, in response to a Facebook post about the mail piece. “I hope both campaigns denounce this for the trash this is.”
The postcard, pictured below, was sent for the apparent benefit of Tony Tenpenny, a former Metro Councilman who faces Ginny Welsch in the run-off election Sept. 12, and mayoral candidate John Cooper.
Headlined “Progressive Socialism,” one side of the mailer prominently features a rainbow, a symbol of the LGBT community, above icons representing the alleged destruction of Fairgrounds Nashville, Nashville as a sanctuary city, an understaffed police force and proposed small houses for homeless in the community. It further compares Welsch and Mayor Briley to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Ocasio-Cortez has been an outspoken progressive since her election in Nov. 18.
The second side urges voters to go to the polls for Tenpenny and Cooper and does not have legal disclaimer, as political mailers are required to have by Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA Title 2, 2-19-1920.)
Katie Lentile, communications director for the Cooper campaign, said Cooper staff was unaware of the mailer until receiving emails from constituents.
“Our campaign was not aware of this,” Lentile said. “We are not making any endorsements in this district’s race.”
When reached by phone, Tenpenny also denied knowledge of the mailer.
Tenpenny has become something of a perpetual candidate for Metro Council in District 16, first running in 2007 against incumbent Anna Page, to whom he lost. In that campaign, signs with rainbow backgrounds saying “Gays and Lesbians for Anna Page” were placed in District 16 without authorization from the Page campaign and lacking a disclaimer. (Out and About, July 14, 2007)
He ran again in 2011, beating Page and serving one term until Mike Freeman defeated him in 2015.
Welsch placed first of three candidates in the August 1 primary with 41.2 percent and Tenpenny came in second with 37 percent.
In addition to Tenpenny’s campaigns for and service on Metro Council, he has compiled a lengthy record of questionable behavior. In 2014, he was alleged to have interfered in officer elections for the Glencliff Neighborhood Association and in 2007, the Nashville Post reported his history of arrests dating to 1984 and a 2002 assault charge.
The run-off election is Sept. 12.