For 25 years, few figures loomed larger in local politics than Richard Fulton. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962, he served seven terms as a liberal (for a Southerner) Democrat, voting for the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and Medicare.
In 1975, faced with the prospect of Metro Trustee Glenn Ferguson following a term-limited Beverly Briley, the secret organization of powerful Nashville businessmen known as “Watauga” recruited Fulton to come home and be mayor. “They told me they thought I would be good for the city, and they obviously felt like I was electable,” Fulton told the Scene in 2002. He would serve the maximum three terms, building Riverfront Park and the Convention Center, before departing the political stage in 1987.
Fulton returned in 1999 and ran against Bill Purcell, but by that time the machine had been dismantled. He bowed out of a runoff gracefully and retired to real estate interests.