Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Jewish Insider: Odessa Kelly stands up in Nashville

Odessa Kelly
by Rod Williams - Odessa Kelly, a Nashville progressive Democrat and political activist is mounting a primary challenge to long-serving Congressman Jim Cooper.  While the odds favor Cooper, Kelly may be a formidable challenger in the heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District.  For years, Jim Cooper presented himself as a moderate and was the leader of the so-called 'Blue Dog" Democrats.  At one time he was a leading voice in the Democrat Party expressing concern about the growing national deficit.  However, any legitimate claim Cooper may have once had to be a deficit hawk was lost long ago.  He now votes in lock-step with the Democrat Party and has stopped expressing concern about deficit spending.

My perception is that Odessa Kelly has a chance of taking the nomination from Jim Cooper.  Cooper was first elected in 2003.  The Democratic Party was certainly liberal then but also more establishment in those days.  Also, the electorate had roots in the community and the Coopers were a powerful political family.  As more newcomers have moved into the Nashville community the old family names don't carry the clout they once did. I would venture that most voters in the 5th Congressional District do not even know that Jim Cooper is the son of former Governor Prentice Cooper and if they do know, they could care less. 

Also, Cooper is kind of aloof and cold.  He doesn't scare a lot of people, but neither does he excite them.  While I would rather have a do-nothing, mainstream liberal like Jim Cooper serve in Congress as opposed to an activist from the AOC-Bernie Sanders wing of the Party, not by much.  I don't think there is enough difference between liberal Jim Cooper and progressive Odessa Kelly to make me vote in the Democrat primary and cast a vote for Jim Cooper. 

Having Odessa Kelly as the nominee of the Democrat Party may even improve the chances for a Republican challenger.  Cooper has always had some support from the business faction and silk-stocking faction of the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans will be less inclined to support Odessa Kelly.  Also, if there are any undecided persuadable voters left, the Republican alternative to the Democrat will look better, if the Democrat is the activist firebrand Kelly as opposed to the less threatening, boring, moderate-appearing, Jim Cooper. 

The following article from Jewish Insider profiles Odessa Kelly and examines the campaign.

Odessa Kelly stands up in Nashville
By Matthew Kassel, Jewish Insider,  May 6, 2021 - Justice Democrats launched an early warning shot into Middle Tennessee last month when it backed Nashville activist Odessa Kelly in her bid to unseat a House Democrat with deep establishment ties at the state and national levels. As the first primary challenger of the 2022 cycle to have earned an endorsement from Justice Democrats, Kelly is hoping an imprimatur from one of the nation’s leading progressive groups will lend some initial momentum to her fledgling campaign. 

“I didn’t want to be one of those people that was just running to get their name out there and have a moral victory,” Kelly, 39, told Jewish Insider in a recent interview. “I want to win this race.” So far, Kelly’s decision to jump in well ahead of next year’s August primary seems to have paid off, at least financially. Within 36 hours of announcing her candidacy, the nonprofit leader and former civil servant reported that she had raised more than $100,000 for her insurgent campaign to take down Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat whose legislative record is in many ways anathema to the party’s far-left flank. (continue reading)

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