The Davidson County Republican Party is zeroing in on the upcoming referendum to decide whether to keep the status quo at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, with party officials Tuesday announcing recent straw poll results that indicate 93 percent of participants support its preservation.
“That’s what’s going to bring these people out to vote,” Davidson County Republican Party chair Kathleen Starnes said. “Our conservative people want to save the fairgrounds.”
Party officials conducted the poll at last Saturday’s party picnic held at Centennial Park. An estimated 250 Republicans were in attendance, with more than 200 taking part in the straw poll, Starnes said.
Metro’s early voting begins July 15 and Election Day is on Aug. 4. Several council candidates — both at-large and district — are running on pro-fairgrounds platforms.
With Mayor Karl Dean lacking a formidable opponent, many Nashvillians consider the fairgrounds referendum the most intriguing draw. The referendum seeks to amend the Metro Charter to keep all existing uses intact on the 117-acre property.
Because voting is just days away, it’s seems likely Dean — who supports redevelopment of the fairgrounds — doesn’t plan to wage a “No” campaign to defeat the proposed amendment.
On Tuesday, a well-crafted video narrated by Metro Councilman Michael Craddock also surfaced. In it, the term-limited councilman appeals to the preservation of the fairgrounds. Craddock, a pro-fairgrounds favorite who pulled out of the mayor’s race at the last moment, begins the 7-minute video addressing a small crowd:
“I want to talk to you today about the history of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds,” Craddock begins. “Because we have a mayor that’s trying to destroy it. And on Aug. 4, we’re going to be faced with a decision to vote ‘yes’ for the fairgrounds or ‘no’ for the fairgrounds.”
The video has some connection to the Republican Party, but not a financial one. Starnes said the county’s Republican party did not pay for the video; rather, one of the party’s supporters paid for it out of his own pocket.
“He’s a friend of ours, yeah,” Starnes said. “It was just an idea that we had, and this guy jumped up and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ ”