When the Planned Parenthood endorsements hit social media on Wednesday, they were notable as much for whom they didn’t endorse in the mayor’s race as for who they did.

In the mayor’s race, PP backed Heidi Campbell, Freddie O’Connell, Vivian Wilhoite and Jeff Yarbro. It also gave a “thumbs up” to Sharon Hurt, which means she shares “our values and will be included in our voter guide.” The second-tier status exasperated some Hurt supporters because of her vote to set aside $500,000 for Metro employees for out-of-state reproductive care as well as her frequent mention of reproductive rights in this campaign.

Of the other main mayoral candidates, Alice Rolli, Jim Gingrich and Matt Wiltshire were missing. Rolli, a Republican, likely did not have a shot at an endorsement from an organization that traditionally endorses Democrats, but Wiltshire and Gingrich are another matter. Gingrich has been a “substantial donor to Planned Parenthood,” as one source described, and so has Wiltshire. Both are staunchly pro-choice and Gingrich was a vocal opponent of bills aimed at LGBTQ residents while he was the COO of AllianceBernstein.

On questionnaires examined by the Banner, both Gingrich and Wiltshire said “yes” to an array of questions about pledging to support abortion rights, access to health care, decriminalizing abortion, LGBTQ rights, expanding contraception access and more. The one question both answered “no” to was “Will you pledge to refuse endorsements and/or donations from police unions?” 

In 2019, Planned Parenthood endorsed John Cooper, who was also endorsed by the Nashville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. 

“Matt is staunchly pro-choice and as mayor, he’ll be an advocate for women’s healthcare and an ally to Planned Parenthood,” said Wiltshire campaign manager Kyle Buda. “Matt and his wife, Crissy, have been supporters of the organization in their capacity as private citizens and will continue to be.”

UPDATE: As of Saturday, June 24, the endorsements were removed from Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood’s Instagram feed but remains on their Facebook page.

Wiltshire Rolls Out Council Endorsements

Sixteen current and former Metro councilmembers came out in support of mayoral candidate Matt Wiltshire on Tuesday. With three endorsements from current Metro councilmembers, that brings the total tally of sitting CMs who have put their chips on a candidate to eight — with Bob Mendes, Sean Parker, Erin Evans, Sandra Sepulveda and Dave Rosenberg endorsing Freddie O’Connell. 

Wiltshire and O’Connell are the only two candidates to receive endorsements from current CMs.

“I’ve worked side-by-side with Matt Wiltshire and know he’s ready to hit the ground running on day one as Mayor,” says District 27 Councilmember Robert Nash in a press release. “Matt has the executive experience in local government needed to be a strong leader. I look forward to working with him toward the goal of making Nashville the safest big city in America.”

Here’s the full list of new endorsements for Wiltshire:

  • District 8 CM Nancy VanReece
  • District 27 CM Robert Nash
  • District 31 CM John Rutherford
  • George Armistead
  • Phil Claiborne
  • Stewart Clifton
  • Jacobia Dowell
  • Jamie Isabell
  • Sean McGuire
  • Doug Pardue 
  • Phil Ponder
  • Jason Potts
  • Bill Pridemore
  • Carter Todd 
  • Charlie Tygard
  • Chris Whitson

Meanwhile, Alice Rolli picked up the endorsement of Community Leaders of America, a forum of Republican mayors and city councilmembers and county leaders.

“Alice Rolli is the embodiment of effective, focused Republican leadership,” says New York City Councilman Joe Borelli, chairman of the CLA. “She knows that business growth, quality education, and fiscal responsibility are the keys to a thriving community and creating opportunity. She is passionate about public service and is committed to making Nashville a beacon of conservative, effective governance. I have every confidence in her ability to lead Nashville with distinction.”

Anti-Semitism in At-Large Race?

In an interview with Banner partner Nashville Post, at-large candidate Jonathan Williamson tried to distance himself from social media posts viewed as anti-semetic and anti-immigrant.

During a Q&A with Post editor Stephen Elliott, Williamson was asked about a number of tweets he made in 2022:

  • In the first, he quoted a tweet that asked “seems to be a lot of powerful people who run social media and banking. I wonder what’s going on.” He replied “Gews.” 
  • In a second, he tweeted “Gews and banks. Smh. This is America.” 
  • In a third, responding to an account called TheBlackChannel that asked “My question is what BENEFIT do we as Black NON-immigrants get from supporting immigrants?” Williamson replied, “None. Zero. Nann.”

“It’s not just Black and white anymore,” Williamson told the Post. “Not only was that statement wild and Twitter talk. That’s absolutely a no. It has to be done. We have to work together. There’s not enough room here to be divisive.”

On his tweets about Judiasm and banking, Williamson gave a long, rambling answer that referenced Kyrie Irving, the NBA star who was suspended and apologized for posting links to an anti-semetic movie.

“I would love to sit down with them,” he said. “I’m a Christian. I’m sure we all could sit down and discuss those things. The Jewish, Judaism, is different from the structure that a lot of people were upset with. The banks, for instance. The Federal Reserve. A lot of times, people get the two mixed up. They think it’s something that’s a dogma or something dark towards the people. Well, no. It’s the institution.You don’t leave a job because the company is bad. You leave because of management. The management of our bank systems and how that’s waged inappropriately. It’s a lot of systematic things that, unfortunately, they routed back during that time, the people blaming the Jews for. The Jews, that’s not their claim nor their shame. The system is what’s the problem. Not anything towards the people. Not anything towards a religion. It was just times when [Irving] got speared up over that documentary that was on Amazon, and people went crazy. I actually watched the documentary. It was a lot of back-and-forth over what’s the problem and who caused it. 300, 500 years ago, people didn’t cause that today. What’s happening today is institutional suppression, institutional racism. It’s not just a group of people.”

Williamson also talked about his anti-COVID vaccine stance.

Read the full interview here.

Disclosure: Matt Wiltshire has donated to the Nashville Banner. Financial supporters play no role in the Banner’s journalism.

Steve is a three-decade veteran of newspapers, working around the country at places like the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune before returning home to Nashville in 2011 to edit The City Paper and Nashville...