Unions for Nashville firefighters and police officers, who sometimes endorse the same candidates, have come to a split in the mayoral runoff.
IAFF Local 140, the firefighters union, has endorsed Freddie O’Connell. The Fraternal Order of Police’s Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 5 has endorsed Alice Rolli. The FOP had endorsed Matt Wiltshire in the general election, who, after coming in third place, gave his endorsement to O’Connell earlier this week. IAFF Local 140 had only made Metro Council endorsements in the general election.
Before Mayor John Cooper’s announcement that he would not be running for reelection, both groups had endorsed him. In 2019, both groups endorsed Cooper over David Briley. This year’s race, which already has echoes of 2015, also features a split like that election when police supported David Fox and firefighters chose Megan Barry.
“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police,” said Rolli in an email. “As Mayor we will work together to ensure our community is safe, we can attract and retain the best officers, and we can become a model for the nation of what is possible for building a safe city for long-time residents and visitors alike.”
It’s no surprise that Rolli received the endorsement. Although Wiltshire got it in the general election, Rolli has been the most outspoken pro-police candidate of the field all season. She has emphasized filling the 178 unfilled sworn officer positions in the MNPD and made adding positions beyond that a sizable part of her campaign.
By picking up the firefighters and the Nashville Business Coalition’s endorsement earlier in the week, O’Connell expanded his support beyond just labor groups and progressive organizations. In his first ad since making the runoff, O’Connell has pivoted more to the center in an attempt to scoop up some voters who may have gone for his opponents in the general election. That is beginning to show in the endorsements he has received.
The FOP endorsed Russ Pulley, Burkley Allen, Jeff Syracuse, Marcia Masulla and Chris Cheng in the general election for at-large. All candidates except for Masulla are currently in a field of eight for the four remaining at-large seats.