Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announces bid for Congress

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Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry is running for Congress in Tennessee's 7th Congressional District, she announced Wednesday, challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Clarksville.

"Today, I’m announcing my campaign for Congress because working families have been ignored for far too long,” Barry said in a launch video posted on her campaign website. “We need an economy and a government that works for everyone. If I can save even one other parent from burying a child, it will be worth every effort.”

Since the Republican-majority state legislature redrew congressional districts in 2021, carving Nashville into three GOP-dominated congressional seats, Music City has not had a representative in Congress who resides within Davidson County.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Rose, whose district includes parts of northeast Nashville, lives in Cookeville, while U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, who represents parts of Antioch and south Nashville, lives in Columbia.

Barry, a Democrat, was the first female mayor of Nashville, elected in 2015 after two terms on the Metro Council. During her administration, Barry advocated for a business-friendly, socially progressive agenda.

She resigned from the office in 2018 after pleading guilty to felony theft related to a nearly two-year affair with a former police bodyguard, Sgt. Rob Forrest. Barry was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and agreed to reimburse the city for $11,000 in unlawful expenses. After completing three years of successful probation, the charge was expunged from Barry's record in 2021.

In her campaign video, Barry said she "made mistakes" but took responsibility for them.

"I don't think anybody should be defined by their worst moments," she said. "It's what you do next that counts."

Despite the affair, and her resignation, Barry has remained a prominent and well-respected voice in Nashville politics, and has advocated for addiction research, among other topics. Her son, Max, died of an opioid overdose while she was in office.

Barry's early campaign platform highlights the ongoing opioid crisis, healthcare disparities and gun violence. In the six years since the death of her son, Barry said things have gotten worse, not better.

"We've seen the opioid crisis get worse, we've become immune to innocent people gunned down in our schools and our communities. And Congressman Mark Green has done nothing," Barry said. "We're losing our rural hospitals at an alarming rate, and people are dying because of it. And women in Tennessee are dealing with one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country, and Mark Green supports it."

Green is a physician and retired U.S. Army major, and was elected to Congress in 2018. He is currently chair of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee. He is an outspoken advocate of U.S.-Mexican border security, and military and veterans issues.

Green won reelection last year in the newly drawn 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of North Nashville and northwestern Davidson County, defeating progressive Nashville organizer Odessa Kelly 60% to 38%. The district stretches from the Kentucky to border down to the state line with Alabama. Of the three members of Congress who represent Nashville, Green is the only member to locate a field office in the city.

Congressmen Mark Green, left, and Congressman Scott DesJarlais, right, attend  a Reagan Day fundraising event for the Maury County Republican Party in Columbia on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.
Congressmen Mark Green, left, and Congressman Scott DesJarlais, right, attend a Reagan Day fundraising event for the Maury County Republican Party in Columbia on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Earlier this year, Green launched a brief, unsuccessful bid for U.S. House Speaker as Republicans struggled to coalesce around one candidate. He was eliminated in the second round of closed-door votes.

Prior to his election to Congress, Green a served two terms in the Tennessee state legislature. Green was nominated for U.S. Secretary of the Army by then-President Donald Trump in 2017, but withdrew after drawing criticism for previous statements about gays, lesbians, and Muslims.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announces bid for Congress