Mayoral candidate Matt Wiltshire Credit: Photo courtesy Nashville Scene

The Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Matt Wiltshire for mayor, Jim Shulman for vice mayor, and a slate of council candidates, including Democrats and Republicans.

The endorsement surprised some political observers who had assumed Alice Rolli, a Republican who has campaigned on reducing crime as an issue, would get the nomination. But similar to four years ago when the FOP snubbed Carol Swain in favor of John Cooper, the police union tacked toward the center instead of the right.

“I’m honored to have the support of our rank-and-file officers,” said Wiltshire. “The Nashville community has seen more than its share of tragedies, but the Metro Nashville Police Department has responded time and time again. As Mayor, I’ll work every day to make Nashville the safest big city in America.”

Four years ago, following the 2018 killing of Daniel Hambrick and guilty plea by former officer Andrew Delke, an endorsement by the police had different optics than today in the wake of the Covenant School shootings. First responders were universally praised for their quick response time and handling of the situation. In the 2018 case, the FOP launched a website attacking the slain Hambrick. 

(For a deeper dive into crime as a political issue, check out the Banner’s Monday story, including on-the-record statements by every leading candidate on a number of issues.)

One of the byproducts of Monday’s news is the awkwardness the FOP endorsements will create among at least one group on the left. Planned Parenthood’s endorsements last week followed a questionnaire in which they asked candidates “will you pledge to refuse endorsements and/or donations from police unions?” All of the top candidates for mayor interviewed for the FOP endorsement. The two groups endorsed six of the same candidates on the Aug. 3 ballot: Jim Shulman for vice mayor, Marcia Masulla for council at large, Jordan Huffman for District 14, Brandon Taylor for District 21, John Rutherford for District 31 and Sandy Ewing for District 34.

Wiltshire and fellow mayoral candidate Jim Gingrich were both snubbed by Planned Parenthood despite their past support for the organization and alignment with the group’s goals on reproductive rights. Five other candidates received endorsements or a “thumbs up” from PP.

Rolli said she thought she had “a 40 percent chance to get” the FOP endorsement in a radio interview last week. 

Was she surprised? 

“No it’s a repeat of the 2015 [Bill] Freeman campaign,” Rolli told the Banner. “I’ll get it in the runoff.”

The endorsement may carry more political juice than actual votes, as an increasing number of rank-and-file FOP members live outside the county.

In a separate announcement, Sharon Hurt picked up the endorsement of “the Brendas” yesterday as Davidson County Clerk Brenda Wynn and former state senator Brenda Gilmore threw their support behind the mayoral candidate.

“I support Sharon Hurt for Mayor,” Wynn said. “I have known her for over 30 years, she was then, is now, and will always be one with a courageous heart and tough mind. She is a committed, loyal and proven leader with extensive service to the Nashville community at large and will lift ALL Nashvillians.”

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...