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Candidate: Anti-Freddie O’Connell, paid for by Steve Smith

Transcript: “…the statistics. Freddie O’Connell will be Nashville’s Lori Lightfoot, and will have criminals dancing in the streets. Since being elected in 2015, District 19 has maintained the highest crime rate in all of Nashville, a whopping 80 percent higher than the next highest district. During his tenure, his district has seen 91 percent more property crime, and 53 percent more violent crime than any other district. And why does it take so long to get an officer to respond to you? Because Freddie’s district has consumed more than two and a half times Metro’s police resources than the next crime-ridden area. His campaign website doesn’t even mention fighting crime. He says the safety of our city isn’t based on the number of police, but hope. That’s right, HOPE. Freddie O’Connell will fight the bachelorettes, but not crime. Nashville can’t become the next Chicago. Weak on homeless, weak on crime. Don’t elect Freddie. Paid for by Steve Smith.” 

Analysis: Steve Smith, a lower Broadway bar owner, dropped his first anti-Freddie O’Connell ad a few weeks ago. A 15-second spot, the ad reminded voters of his “A-B-C, Anybody But Cooper” campaign, and said that now that Mayor John Cooper isn’t running for reelection, it’s “N-O-E, Not O’Connell Either.” This new, minute-long ad switches up the acronym to the more obvious and palatable choice “D-E-F, Don’t Elect Freddie,” and it’s hard to believe the change wasn’t inspired by friend of the Banner Election Desk and Nashville Post editor Stephen Elliot pointing out the better option on Twitter. The ad is a little more substantive than the first one, but largely sticks to the same scare tactics, putting a big emphasis on crime in District 19, the District O’Connell has represented for the past few years, and arguing that a single councilmember has caused many of Nashville’s police resources to be sucked into that area. The ad also references Lori Lightfoot, who was the mayor of Chicago from 2019-2023. It’s a dogwhistle for Fox News hardcores, not persuadable viewers, as the network famously uses Lightfoot as an avatar for big city crime. It’s hard to imagine this ad having the effect Smith intends: Anyone who it appeals to was likely already going to vote for one of the more conservative candidates, such as Alice Rolli. Following the release of the first ad, the O’Connell campaign claimed a boost in fundraising. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect the same thing to happen here. 

Where can you see it: Broadcast TV.

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...