Controversial Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Launches Congressional Bid

Congressional bid is a political comeback for former mayor after scandal, personal tragedy.
Controversial Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Launches Congressional Bid
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry addresses the crowd during Nashville Candelight Vigil For Las Vegas at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 2, 2017. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
Chase Smith

Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry has officially announced her candidacy for Congress, challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Mark Green for one of three seats representing Nashville and surrounding communities.

Ms. Barry’s announcement amounts to a political comeback after the controversial mayor resigned from office in 2018 following a scandal involving the use of city funds to carry on an extramarital affair and accompanying felony theft plea.

She did not mention the scandal in detail in her announcement video, but she did not shy away from her past troubles either.

She and her husband Bruce lost their son Max to a drug overdose while she was still serving as mayor, something she mentioned in the announcement as a reason she is seeking a return to office.

“There are losses so profound they change you forever, and there are lessons learned in life that are so profound they stay with you forever,” Ms. Barry stated.

She reflected on these personal tragedies and professional setbacks, emphasizing the lessons learned from them.

“I owned up to them and I took responsibility and my husband Bruce and I worked through it all together,” she said in the video. “I don’t think anybody should be defined by their worst moments—it’s what you do next that counts.”

Focus on Violence in Schools, Opioid Crisis

Turning her attention to the current political climate, Ms. Barry criticized the “total dysfunction in Congress” and its failure to positively impact the lives of Tennessee families.

She specifically called out Mr. Green, the incumbent Republican she will be challenging if she secures the Democratic nomination, for his perceived inaction on various issues.

“I look at the total dysfunction in Congress and its failure to make any kind of difference in the lives of our families,” she said in the video. “It’s outrageous and we don’t have to tolerate it. In the years since Max passed, we’ve seen the opioid crisis get worse, we’ve become immune to innocent people being gunned down in our schools and our communities, and Congressman Mark Green has done nothing.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) arrives for a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on September 14, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) arrives for a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on September 14, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Ms. Barry is running in one of three congressional districts that carved up Nashville during Tennessee’s Republican supermajority-led redistricting last year. The redistricting gave the GOP an additional seat that had previously centered on Nashville, which is a solidly Democratic city in the state and had long been held by Democrats.

The new congressional district, which now encompasses Nashville and 13 Republican-leaning counties, is facing a federal lawsuit, but the redistricting dispute won’t be heard until after the 2024 election, according to The Associated Press.

The former mayor’s campaign website emphasizes wanting an economy and government that works for everyone, as well as family issues.

“If I can save even one other parent from burying a child, it'll be worth every effort,” Ms. Barry said in the launch video, highlighting her commitment to addressing the opioid crisis and other key issues.

Alex Joyner, campaign manager for Mark Green, responded to Ms. Barry’s announcement, highlighting Mr. Green’s dedication to serving Tennesseans.

“Congressman Green has always put his fellow American before himself,” Mr. Joyner said in an email to The Epoch Times. “In Congress, he has been a champion for Tennesseans—leading the fight to secure our border, fix our healthcare system, and defend our constitutional rights.”

Mr. Green served as an Army surgeon and is the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. He was nominated by former President Trump to become the Army secretary, but in 2017 withdrew his nomination.

More on Megan Barry

Ms. Barry saw two terms on Nashville’s Metro Council before serving as Nashville’s first female mayor from 2015-2018.

She resigned as part of a plea deal, which saw her pleading guilty to felony theft of property over $10,000, related to an affair with her then-police bodyguard Sgt. Rob Forrest, Jr., according to The Tennessean.

“While my time as mayor today concludes, my unwavering love and sincere affection for this wonderful city and its great people will never come to an end,” Ms. Barry said at the time, just moments after pleading guilty. “No one is as excited about this city and its bright and limitless future as I am.”

She also agreed to reimburse the city $11,000 in restitution and served three years of probation. Her record is now expunged after fulfilling the plea agreement, according to the AP.

Locally, the biggest policy Ms. Barry pushed while mayor was for more public transportation in Nashville. She led a campaign and eventual ballot referendum, which was voted down just months after she resigned, which would have raised sales taxes and commercial taxes to add light rail and rapid bus transit lines among main corridors in the city.

Aside from the failed transportation push, she led a successful campaign to bring major league soccer to Nashville.

Since leaving office, Ms. Barry has spoken out against the stigma surrounding substance use disorder, sharing her son’s story to raise awareness.

“Families in Tennessee are struggling, and Mark Green continues to do nothing,” she said, inviting supporters to donate to her campaign. “I’m fed up, and I know many Tennesseans are too.”