NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When the Republican-controlled Tennessee legislature split Davidson county into three congressional districts this year, critics saw this as a way for the GOP to draw Democrats out of a traditionally solidly blue seat.
However, former State Senator Heidi Campbell (D) jumped into the race anyway.
“I decided that somebody needed to fight for it because a lot of people in Nashville felt our district was being taken away from us,” Campbell said on “This Week with Bob Mueller” Sunday.
A new internal poll conducted by Frederick Polls and released by the Campbell campaign shows the former state senator leading by three points, 51% to 48% against her republican opponent, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles.
“We’ve got a long way to go ’til November, but we’ve got momentum that shows we can win!” Campbell said in a post on Twitter after saying Tennesseans, “do not want Ogles.”
Ogles is running as a “true MAGA candidate,” as he writes on his Facebook page, and won his primary by about 10 points.
Whoever wins the upcoming November election will be taking over for Democrat Representative Jim Cooper. Cooper has been representing Nashville for almost 20 years and decided not to run for reelection after the controversy over the new congressional maps was settled.
“I am announcing my decision promptly so that others have more time to campaign. I will return the individual contributions that I have received for this race so that donors can redirect them as they choose,” Cooper wrote in January.
Middle Tennessee State University Political Science Professor John Vile says Cooper’s logic makes sense.
“The Republicans have divided this district, one district, for Nashville that was predominately democratic and divided into three predominantly republican leaning districts,” Vile said. “If you dilute one into three parts then you have a better chance of winning those three.”
Yet, Campbell says recent headlines may help her win the seat.
“They are not great things. One was the Dobbs decision, the next thing was the January 6th hearings, and the last thing is the candidate I am running against,” she said.
From March until August, 13% more voters said abortion is important to their midterm vote and that is driven largely by Democrats, according to Pew Research Center.
Viles believes this could be a motivating issue on both sides of the aisle and adds the perception of Ogles as the “MAGA” candidate may also motivate Republicans and Democrats depending on whether people feel former President Trump is being rightfully or wrongfully investigated after leaving office.
Ogles, his team, the Tennessee GOP and the Davidson County GOP were all asked to give an interview for this story but said they were not available to speak Tuesday.
However, after winning his primary, Ogles told supporters he would stay true to the conservative race he has been running.
“We are at war. This is a political war, cultural war, spiritual war. As we go forward we have to go back to honoring God and country,” he said. “Now instead of talking about educating our children, we are talking about critical race theory, transgender nonsense. Let’s get DC out of Tennessee!”
The non-partisan Cook Political Report has this race in Ogles’ favor with a nine-point lead, but Viles says the results of a midterm election in Tennessee will come down to turnout and voter enthusiasm.