2023 candidates for Metro Council At-Large Credit: Campaign photos

There are two schools of strategy in the race for council at large.

First are the hoarders.  Like the mayor’s race, the at-large race is almost guaranteed to enter a runoff. To win one of the five at-large seats outright, candidates must obtain 10 percent of the vote. For any open seats after election day, a runoff will be held among double the number of available seats. The hoarders have a high name ID, have spent time on the Council and are betting they’ll need cash for a runoff.

This cycle’s hoarders include Jeff Syracuse, Burkley Allen and Russ Pulley. D15 Councilmember Syracuse has the most cash on hand going into election day at $191,116. Current at-large CM Allen and D25’s Russ Pulley occupy a distant second and third, with $124,029 and $116,486 on hand respectively. The two also spent lighter in the race’s final month. Marcia Masulla, a first-time candidate, has $71,783 in the bank. 

Some candidates are taking advantage of their name ID, including Zulfat Suara, an incumbent at-large councilmember who spent $44,918 and has $55,066.

Then there are the spenders. These candidates want to ensure that they make it to the next stage. Sure, an at-large candidate who blows all of their money by Aug. 3 might make winning in September tougher. But it does a candidate no good to miss the next stage with money in the bank.

First-time candidate Quin Evans-Segall chose this path. She spent $77,188 and only has $9,492 left on hand. So did Olivia Hill, who raised $22,555 this period, and only has $10,112 leftover having spent $25,172 this month. Should either of them make the runoff, they will spend more time raising money than courting voters in the next few weeks.

Similarly, though Delishia Porterfield has some recognition as a district councilmember, she spent $57,355 and has $21,512 left.

Here’s a list of the at-large candidates ranked by cash on hand.

CandidateRaisedSpentCash on Hand
Jeff Syracuse$17,220$25,578$191,116
Burkley Allen$28,842$11,715$124,029
Russ Pulley$4,999$11,601$116,486
Marcia Masulla$18,848$39,949$71,783
Zulfat Suara$26,245$44,918$55,066
Delishia Porterfield$17,900$57,355$21,512
Olivia Hill$22,555$25,172$10,112
Quin Evans-Segall$11, 574$77,188$9,492
Chris Cheng$7,925$5,490$8,283
Chris Crofton$1,921$0$4,118
Arnold Hayes$2,800$9,827$1,609
Yolanda Hockett$3,205$2,931$1,152
Tony Chapman$426$311$558
Brian Hellwig$0$5$523
Jonathan Williamson$875$640$285
Gilbert Ramirez$650$1,020$159
Indrani Ray$951$2,635$66
Source: Davidson County Election Commission

There was also plenty of political action committee money to go around in the final weeks, with the top nine candidates on this list all receiving money from PACs. 

At $14,500, Suara received the most PAC money, with Allen and Hill following close behind her at $13,800 and $13,500 respectively. The majority of Hill’s PAC money came from a $9,000 donation from Growing Tennessee’s Future Outlook PAC. GTFO also gave $4,000 to Porterfield as well as to a few progressive district council candidates. 

Friends of the Police, the Fraternal Order of Police’s PAC, also got into the mix this time around, with $2,500 donations to Syracuse, Allen and Cheng. Masulla received a $3,000 donation from Friends of the Police. 

Of the 21 candidates for at-large, four did not file their campaign finance disclosures on time. These candidates will be sent to the state by the Davidson County Elections Commission on Monday: Stephen Downs, Ronnie Greer, Howard Jones and Deloris Vandivort.