Music City quirk: Nashville honky-tonks form PAC as mayoral race approaches

Tootsies Nashville
No trip to Nashville is complete without a trip to Tootsies Orchid Lounge. The CD Baby conference was about 2 blocks away. (Photo: Rebecca Day/The Crazy Daysies)

The Golden City of country music is about to hold a race for mayor, and although it’s an interesting race, national media have given it scant attention. The race follows a major sex scandal revolving around Nashville’s previous mayor. Amid the campaigning, a daily newspaper even noted “honky-tonk” owners in the city have formed a PAC. Seems like all this would be great fodder for national stories considering Nashville’s importance in country music.

The race includes a former college professor who is black, Carol Swain, and the incumbent, David Briley, who is white. Briley took office when former mayor Megan Barry resigned. Swain has the more difficult effort because Nashville has long been a stronghold for Democrats. Some of the coverage of the race has been curious, starting with a description of Dr. Swain.

Daily newspaper The Tennessean initially characterized Swain as “polarizing.” That term appears in the current URL. The presumably edited headline, however, describes her as a “conservative.” Despite doing a feature on Swain, the newspaper didn’t ask a question that reporters usually ask. Have the mayors of the city known for music always been white? I did a search and was unable to answer that question myself.

Meanwhile the incumbent David Briley leads in fundraising.

In yet another interesting description, The Tennessean noted “honky-tonk owners” back Swain. Among those “honky-tonk owners” are some iconic venues:

“Among Swain’s donors are Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Cold Beer Entertainment, Dawghouse Saloon, Harry O’s Steakhouse and Redman Entertainment.”

The honky-tonks have formed a PAC. That just sounds so quirky—a honky-tonk PAC.

There’s a skeletal overview of Dr. Swain at Wikipedia. Her life story is fascinating—she climbed from poverty to become a distinguished educator, author, and analyst.

Current mayor Briley took office after the previous mayor Megan Barry resigned on the heels of a scandal involving a sexual affair with an officer on her security detail and misappropriated funds involving travel with that officer. Barry managed to escape a permanent felony label by arranging a plea deal, and she paid $11,000 in fines. Her paramour whose wife divorced him after 30 years of marriage ended up paying $45,000 in fines. He is no longer a police officer.  Wikipedia has an overview on Barry.

The mayoral race is August 1. What, if anything, will change in Nashville, depending on the outcome? No one knows, but there is one absolute.

Without those “honky-tonks”, Nashville would be in a world of trouble.

(Kay B. Day/April 12, 2019)

 

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