Sandwiched between household political names Vic Lineweaver, Karen Johnson and Vivian Wilhoite in the race for juvenile court clerk is a general sessions court officer making his first ever run for public office.
While David Smith lacks the name recognition of his opponents for the May 2010 election, his campaign launch event last week established him as a formidable candidate for the job.
Smith hosted a spaghetti supper at the Al Menah Shrine Center to celebrate his official entrance into the race. Smith said he raised more than $26,000 in campaign contributions.
“I’m running on my experience in the court systems,” said Smith, a 19-year court officer for three different judges. “I know the filing system. I know the courts and I know the attorneys.”
Smith has accumulated support from over 240 Nashville attorneys, including state Sen. Joe Haynes, Rep. Mike Stewart, Councilman Mike Jameson and Councilman Jason Holleman, among many other notable names.
Smith, 51, said he’s been building momentum because he knows the name recognition his opponents possess. Lineweaver, the incumbent, has already been elected to the office twice and is a former Council member. Wilhoite is in her second term representing District 29 in Metro Council and Johnson is a school board member.
“I’m staying focused on this race,” Smith said. “I firmly believe after the kickoff party — it was a contribution welcome, but not required dinner — and everyone from security guards to legislators to top judges in this state were there, and I believe that demonstrates that now more than ever people are ready for new leadership and a new direction for the office.”
Lineweaver has maintained he is running for the race, but said he wouldn’t comment on any of his potential opponents. As was first reported by The City Paper, both Johnson and Wilhoite intend to run for the seat as well.
One source told The City Paper a successful campaign would raise in the neighborhood of $250,000 for the office.
One reason candidates are launching campaigns more than a year out is because Lineweaver is viewed as an easy target after a controversial term as juvenile court clerk. A WSMV Channel 4 exposé showed Lineweaver at home in his bathrobe during work hours and he was hit with two contempt of court charges for not producing necessary court files to referees in 2007. Lineweaver lost an appeal of that ruling earlier this year, but has taken his case to the Court of Appeals.