Last year, Steven Turner was named the Davidson County Democratic Party’s rising star. This year, he’s trying to see how high his star can rise.
Turner, 27, is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Mary Pruitt, the Democrat who has represented central Nashville’s 58th House District since 1985.
Regarded as inaccessible, unresponsive and ineffectual, Pruitt nevertheless wins and wins again in the solidly blue district. In 2006, she defeated Jason Powell, a well-funded political newcomer.
Is this year any different?
Even in four short years, the district has changed. Once a poor, city-center district touching on North Nashville, the 58th has experienced something of a turnaround: The neighborhoods of Germantown and Salemtown have turned into solidly middle-class enclaves stocked with professionals. Condos, higher-end shops and restaurants are springing up as the area becomes the latest in Nashville to go through a reimagining.
Turner focuses on Pruitt’s lack of responsiveness: She sponsored just 12 bills last session and missed 87 votes, even though the state Capitol itself is smack dab in the middle of her district.
In addition, the veteran has seemingly imposed a media blackout on herself, failing to return phone calls and, as best anyone can tell, doing just one interview: on the radio on 92Q-FM. She claimed support from the district and said she’s “done what the people have asked [her] to do.”
Turner, meanwhile, essentially kicked off his campaign back in October and touts his door-to-door, in-the-neighborhood strategy as the key to his success.
As always, elections are nothing more than big get-out-the-vote efforts. If Turner can get the progressives out in force — which may be tough given that the left wing of the Democratic Party is less than enthused about giving Mike McWherter courtesy votes for the gubernatorial nomination — he has a chance. If Pruitt’s supporters can be mobilized as they were four years ago, she’s likely to remain on Capitol Hill.