The seasoned Democratic lawmaker claimed Nashville’s gerrymandering would put an end to his career.
Rep. Jim Cooper, a Democrat and 32-year Congress veteran, will step down at the end of this year after Tennessee Republicans cut his Nashville-based seat in half during redistricting.
He is the 29th House Democrat to depart the body this Congress to retire or run for a higher position.
No one worked harder to maintain the unity of our city, Cooper claimed in a statement announcing his choice. “I looked into every avenue, including legal action, to halt the gerrymandering and win one of the three congressional seats that currently split Nashville. For me, there is no chance during this election season.
Cooper, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, comes from a well-known family in Tennessee. His father served as the state’s governor, and his brother is Nashville’s mayor. When Nancy Pelosi was the party leader, he frequently voted against her; nevertheless, in 2021, when her chances of becoming a speaker were exceedingly slim, he supported her candidacy.
President Joe Biden won his current district, which encompasses the entirety of Nashville, by 24 points in 2020. However, a plan being proposed by the Tennessee GOP legislature would have made it into a district that Donald Trump would have easily won.
Republicans have increased their ruthlessness in redistricting in a small number of states, including Tennessee, after surprisingly hesitating to divide up other blue cities in red states like Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas City, Missouri.
The Voting Rights Act protects the Memphis district of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). However, Cooper’s seat has long been a target for GOP legislators.
And Cooper was aware that he was a target, as he said to POLITICO this summer: “What’s to stop them? It is a supermajority for them. They’re going to follow Emily Post protocol even though there’s a three-vote difference in this case?
The GOP-controlled legislature prevented possible litigation by enacting a bill in May to alter the composition of the court that would adjudicate disputes involving redistricting. Instead of only judges from the politically liberal Davidson County, which includes Nashville, a panel of three judges from all around the state would hear those cases.
This increases the likelihood that Republicans will hold onto Nashville in 2022. However, the city is expanding, in part due to residents moving in from out of state, and this poses a risk to any district that owns a section of it over the next ten years.
We can only hope and pray that people will adopt our values and ethos when they become Tennesseans, and in that aspect, we should be alright, concluded the speaker. Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee) praised the state’s minimal rules and fees. Two or three cycles down the road, there might be some competitive races if they don’t.
Former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, businessman Baxter Lee, and lawyer Kurt Winstead are potential GOP contenders for the position. Before the redistricting process was completed in June of last year, conservative commentator Robby Starbuck announced his candidacy. Community activist Odessa Kelly, who received support from the Justice Democrats, had already mounted a primary challenge against Cooper.
National Republicans, meanwhile, disregarded the effects of redistricting and praised Cooper’s resignation as proof that his party will likely be in the minority in 2022.
The National Republican Congressional Committee’s Camille Gallo said, “Democrats’ retirement problem shows no indications of calming down.” Nobody wants to run on the radical Democratic platform of more violent crime, uncontrolled borders, and soaring costs.
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