Aftyn Behn Credit: Campaign photo

Aftyn Behn will represent House District 51 after winning a special election.

The District 51 seat, which encompasses portions of East Nashville, Madison and Donelson, was left vacant by the death of Bill Beck. Anthony Davis, a friend of Beck’s and a former member of the Metro Council, was appointed to the seat by the council to serve during the Tennessee General Assembly’s special session on public safety in late August. Davis was the favorite going into the special election’s primary on Aug. 3, but Behn came out on top by nearly 700 votes, effectively winning her the seat in the safely blue House district. 

She beat out her opponent, Republican David Hooven, by more than 50 percentage points, 8,601 votes to 2,573 with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Behn is a progressive who has made a name for herself through advocacy over the years, and has previously been arrested at the Capitol over her protest of former speaker of the house Glen Casada. She is expected to align herself with House members Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson, the so-called “Tennessee Three” who Republicans moved to expel during the last session. Johnson, the only one of the three to survive expulsion, endorsed Behn. Pearson and Jones have since been returned to the House through their own special elections. 

Behn ran an aggressive campaign in the primary. With Davis appointed to the seat and receiving endorsements from most of Nashville’s political establishment, Behn was something of an underdog. Her victory represented something of a trend as of late, with blue voters leaning more toward the loud activists rather than established politicians. 

During the special session, Behn could be seen around the hallways of the Capitol interacting with protestors, organizers and politicians. She will serve out the remaining half of Bill Beck’s term and have to run for re-election in 2024.