Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green won reelection Tuesday, defeating Democrat Odessa Kelly in the race for the newly drawn 7th Congressional District.
The Associated Press called the race for Green, a Clarksville Republican, shortly after 10 p.m. CT, around the same time Kelly conceded the race.
Green thanked the voters who voted for him and those who voted against, saying he will earn his spot as the district’s representative.
“I will earn that vote every day for the rest of the time I’m in office,” Green said during a campaign event at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. “And I thank you for that vote and I thank you for that trust. I will not let you down.”
To the voters who did not cast their ballot for Green, he said he will still give them 100% of his service.
Kelly initially mounted an early primary challenge to Cooper in the 5th Congressional District. But Kelly, co-founder of community advocacy group Stand Up Nashville, was drawn out of the 5th when redistricting efforts earlier this year shattered the district and parceled Davidson County into three congressional districts.
“Although the outcome of this race wasn’t what we had hoped for, I’m tremendously proud of what we built these last twenty months,” Kelly said in a statement conceding the race.
**“**We always knew this was going to be a tough race. We faced just about every systemic hurdle that could possibly have been thrown at us. Instead of waiting 10 years for fair lines, we rose to the challenge. We knew this was about more than one election — this was about building a movement. "
The Republican supermajority sought to break up the longtime Democratic stronghold in the hopes of flipping the 5th and further entrenching their congressional delegation majority to eight Republicans, leaving a sole Democrat in Shelby County.
For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans represent Nashville in Congress.
Kelly was a staunch opponent to the redistricting effort, which kneecapped her 5th bid and pulled her into a more rural, conservative district. She has called the new districts a step beyond gerrymandering and “racist” in the ways they dilute the voting power of Davidson’s historically Black communities.
In the former 5th, Black residents accounted for about 24.3% of the population. Black residents make up about 16% of the new 7th, 11.9% in the new 5th and less than 10% in the new 6th, which sprawls eastward from Nashville for more than 120 miles.
Kelly wasn’t alone in criticizing the redistricting effort.
Green was one of the few Republicans to speak publicly against splitting Davidson in the weeks leading up to the redistricting decision − and even during the campaign. The congressman called the proposed plan “greedy” last year, echoing some strategists’ concerns that the plan could benefit Republicans in the short-term but ultimately give Democrats a foothold to flip more seats in the future.
Kelly outmatched Green in third-quarter fundraising, indicating strong grassroots support as she has engaged an aggressive ground campaign in the district. Still, Green has outraised Kelly overall, and the district’s existing Republican base outnumbers the new Democrats pulled in from the shattered 5th.