All five Metro Council sitting at-large members rolled to victory Thursday night without needing a runoff, continuing the city’s historic trend of incumbents in those seats winning their re-election bids.
The outcome keeps intact a crop of countywide-elected council members — Megan Barry, Tim Garrett, Jerry Maynard, Ronnie Steine and Charlie Tygard — who range from liberal to conservative, but generally support most of Mayor Karl Dean’s legislative agenda.
“I think it reflects that the five of us collectively represent much of the width and breadth of the community, frankly,” Steine said. “We’re different on the spectrum from liberal to conservative, different from one end of the county to the other, and different in diversity in terms of sex, race and religion. The county respected that.”
At-large incumbents have never lost re-elections in the history of Metro, and name recognition and fundraising prowess is a major reason why.
To win outright on Election Day, at-large candidates needed 10 percent of the aggregate votes cast in that particular race. All five did so, ranging from as high as 12 percent to as low as 10.3 percent.
The biggest winner among the group was Councilwoman Megan Barry, who chairs the council’s Budget and Finance Committee. Barry, a favorite among the city’s progressives, finished the night with 30,205 votes, 12 percent. Next up was Steine with 29,261 votes, 11.6 percent.
“I’m very excited that all of the at-large members were able to clear it without a runoff because I think all of have served the community well,” Barry said. “We don’t always agree on every issue, but we represent the entirety of Davidson County.”
Heading into election night, some prognosticators felt Maynard, the lone African-American at-large member, was the most vulnerable of the bunch. Just like four years ago, Maynard finished with the fewest votes of the five, 25,847 or 10.3 percent, but he pulled out a victory nonetheless.
“The question for us was whether we were going to be in a runoff,” Maynard said. “Even though people kept saying we were the most vulnerable, we knew that wasn’t the case. We knew that we had a strong record to stand on.”
Finishing sixth — unable to break into the group of five — was term-limited district Councilman Eric Crafton, who has represented the Bellevue area for 12 years. Crafton had 20,524 votes, 8.1 percent of the vote.
“I did extremely well considering the fact that I only spent $4,000, and was outspent probably 15 or 20 to one, literally by the five incumbents,” Crafton said. “It is what it is. Obviously, the mayor was not going to campaign for me or raise $40,000 or $50,000 for me.”
Crafton’s loss likely caps a memorable local political career, marked by his failed English-only referendum of 2009.
“I’m done with that,” Crafton said of politics. “When God closes one door, he opens another door. I’m excited to see what he has planned for me to do.”
Garrett, a former Democratic state representative and Goodlettsville councilman, finished third with 28,013 votes, 11.1 percent. Tygard, a former district councilman in Bellevue, finished fourth with 26,977 votes, 10.7 percent.
Rounding out the at-large losers in order was District Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite, with 17,560 votes; District Councilman Sam Coleman, with 15,435 votes, businessman Ken Jakes, with 12,392 votes, and attorney Renard Francois with 10,515 votes.
The only outsider who proved capable of competing financially with the five incumbents was Francois, leading some to believe he stood a chance of breaking into the field. In the end, he came in 10th place.
“Tough night for the Francois camp,” Francois wrote on his twitter feed. “Congrats to all winners and thank you to all supporters and volunteers.”