Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Credit: File photo

Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry is actively exploring a run for Congress.

According to three independent sources, Barry is considering a race against Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) for the 7th District seat. Barry, who resigned in 2018 in the wake of an affair with her security chief, has remained popular among Nashville voters even after she left office.

On Tuesday evening, Barry confirmed her interest to the Banner.

“Mark Green has been missing in action as rural hospitals close, the opioid crisis continues to tear families apart, he actively supports an extreme ban on abortion, and Congress does nothing about gun violence,” Barry said. “So yes, I have been urged by many people in our community to run and I am actively considering it. I don’t have a definitive timeline, but I will soon.”

The district is one of three that claim part of Nashville due to redistricting. In 2022, Green easily won re-election in the redrawn 7th, defeating Odessa Kelly 60 percent to 38 percent. Green raised more than $1.7 million for the race and spent $1.85 million, while Kelly raised and spent just over $1 million.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat as “solid Republican.” That’s how Republican strategist Ward Baker sees it as well. “This is a Republican district. Trump got 56 percent in the 7th District in 2020, and I believe it will only improve in 2024,” he told the Banner.

Nashville voters accounted for almost a quarter of the votes in 2022 in the 7th, which stretches from Wayne County on the Alabama border up to Clarksville and then over to Nashville. 

Social media watchers will note that Barry has been amplifying Tweets critical of Green for not disclosing his discharge status from the Army. Green made headlines in recent weeks after he entered the House speaker race before withdrawing it hours later.

Barry’s political career started in 2007 when she clinched one of Nashville’s five at-large councilmember seats. She won a second term in 2011, garnering the most votes out of all the at-large candidates. Over the years, Barry has been a vocal supporter of the LGBT community, legislatively when she was the lead sponsor of Nashville’s first ordinance protecting Metro employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and symbolically when she officiated the city’s first same-sex marriage in 2015. 

Her mayoral campaign’s strategy in 2015 is considered a template for Mayor Freddie O’Connell’s. Similar to O’Connell, she came in as an underdog in a field of well-funded campaigns. Despite the odds, she came out on top, going into a runoff with Republican David Fox, who was later the treasurer for Alice Rolli’s campaign for mayor. She beat Fox by 10 points. 

Transit was a big part of her campaign, and as mayor, she pushed hard for a multi-billion dollar transit referendum that included not only bus rapid transit, but light rail. In the end, not only were the price tag and the idea of a tunnel under downtown Nashville too much for voters, but some labeled the ill-timed revelation of Barry’s affair as the final nail in the referendum’s coffin. Nashvillians voted two-to-one against the proposition.  

Despite her resignation, Barry still maintained popular support in 2018. Since then, she has largely stayed away from politics, instead advocating for treatment of addiction, which killed her eldest son. Throughout this time, her popularity has remained high, and when John Cooper announced earlier this year that he would not seek a second term as mayor, her name was floated as a possible candidate. She ultimately chose not to run

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...

Connor Daryani is a staff reporter. He has previously freelanced for the Nashville Scene and the Nashville Post covering the state legislature and Metro.