An email candidate Jeff Yarbro sent to supporters on Thursday includes a photograph of himself eating lunch with Mayor Karl Dean earlier this week, but the mayor’s spokeswoman says the photo is not an endorsement.
Mayor’s office spokeswoman Janel Lacy said “Dean has not endorsed either candidate” in the District 21 state Senate Democratic primary.
Yarbro, an attorney at Bass, Berry & Sims, is challenging veteran state Sen. Douglas Henry in the Democratic primary. Election Day is Aug. 5.
In the email, Yarbro recounts a recent lunch he had with Dean at an eatery on 53rd Avenue in west Nashville. A photo of Dean and Yarbro finishing their meal accompanies the letter. Dean is a voter in the contested state Senate district.
“When I was having lunch with Mayor Dean at Wendell Smith’s on Tuesday, a young woman told me that she had been planning on voting in the Republican primary but had decided to support me instead,” Yarbro writes in the email.
Though the mayor has publicly stayed out of the race, some political observers believe Dean privately supports Yarbro’s candidacy.
On Yarbro’s campaign website, the political newcomer says he served as an education adviser to Dean. In addition, some notable Dean allies have thrown support behind Yarbro, including Dean’s former campaign treasurer Leigh Walton, who in April hosted a fundraiser for Yarbro at her home. Walton also works at the same law firm as Yarbro.
Yarbro told The City Paper his intention in posting the photo wasn’t to imply Dean had endorsed his candidacy.
“Obviously, anybody who’s running in the 21st District needs to seek advice and counsel and form a good working relationship with the mayor,” Yarbro said. “I hope to have that as a senator.”