In Davidson County’s most closely watched local race, David Smith crushed incumbent Vic Lineweaver Tuesday in the Democratic primary for juvenile court clerk, ending Lineweaver’s pursuit at a third term.
Smith, a general sessions court officer who led all candidates in fundraising and enjoyed overwhelming support from the legal community, defeated six others, including Lineweaver, with nearly 50 percent of the vote.
Metro Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite finished second with 15 percent of the vote, followed by school board member Karen Johnson, who collected 14 percent of the vote. Lineweaver finished fourth overall, raking in support from only 12 percent of the 18,512 Nashvillians who voted in the juvenile court clerk race.
The race now moves to Aug. 5 when Smith will square off against Metro Councilman Eric Crafton, who, as expected, easily defeated two relative unknowns in the Republican primary for juvenile court clerk.
Smith, who has campaigned for the seat for more than two years, attributed his overwhelming primary victory to organization.
“We just put it together and just went to work like we planned two years ago when we started,” Smith said. “We kept focused on the campaign and came out where we thought we would.”
Lineweaver had been seen as vulnerable after accumulating a string of negative headlines in recent years, which included an arrest after being found in contempt of court for failing to produce various court documents related to child custody cases.
Tuesday night around 9 p.m., Lineweaver, who still holds onto the position until August, stopped by Smith’s campaign party at East Nashville’s Limelight to congratulate the victor. Smith asked for Lineweaver’s support. The two are planning to sit down in the days in ahead.
Before leaving Smith’s party, Lineweaver told The City Paper the loss “hurt,” but quickly shifted attention to victims of Nashville’s devastating flood of two weeks ago.
“This is a great city,” Lineweaver said. “We are Nashville, and now we go forward, but we’ve got to continue praying and working with our flood victims.”
Though Davidson County tends to lean Democratic and some may predict an easy Smith victory, Crafton has some things going for him as well.
Crafton has built significant name recognition in recent years after taking on several controversial issues, including his well-publicized, but ultimately unsuccessful, English-only referendum.
Moreover, with three gubernatorial candidates competing in the GOP primary in the Aug. 5 election, Republicans could be more motivated to hit the polls than Democrats, who only have one candidate for governor, businessman Mike McWherter.
Crafton said he believes voters will judge the candidates themselves and not look so much at their party affiliations.
“I’m happy to be past the partisan phase of this election, and now what I’m hoping is that the voters will focus in on the candidates,” Crafton said. “I hope they’ll look at my life experience, military service, public service and being a small business owner.”