Nashville voters chose Glenn Funk in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election. With no Republican challengers in the general election, Funk’s win over Sara Beth Myers and P. Danielle Nellis sets him up for reelection in August.
With a second term, Funk will serve as the Davidson County District Attorney until 2030. Myers finished second, and Nellis finished third.
“We have too many forces in our world today, in our country today, in our state today, on our Supreme Court these days, who are trying to divide us,” Funk told the crowd at Winners in Midtown, where he hosted his election night party. “We are better when we work together and care about each other. That’s my commitment to the people of Nashville.”
“This obviously isn’t the result we wanted,” offered Myers in a statement to the Scene. “First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who supported this campaign, from the voters, to our hard-working staff and volunteers, to my husband, John, and parents, who were so supportive while I’ve been campaigning. I’m proud of how we ran this campaign. I proposed major reforms that I hope the administration will incorporate for the safety of our city. I love Nashville and I will continue to serve this city however I can.”
Nellis and Myers are both former assistant district attorneys for the county. Nellis worked in Funk’s office from 2014 to 2018. Myers worked under Torry Johnson, Funk’s predecessor, but was let go by Funk almost immediately after he took office in 2014.
The trial of former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught became an attack point for both Myers and Nellis, who criticized Funk for bringing criminal charges for actions they considered medical malpractice. After a video about Vaught’s case went viral on NurseTok (a niche of nurse-focused TikTok content), Myers dominated the medium and established her campaign as an alternative to Funk. Earlier this month, a campaign ad cast Myers as tough on crime, citing unsolved homicides and spikes in violent crime under Funk. Violent crime in Nashville increased slightly during the pandemic but has fallen steadily since the 1990s.
Funk comfortably outraised both challengers. His disclosures include many of the city’s top lawyers and most recognizable law firms. A $115,000 loan from Myers to her own campaign significantly bumped up her numbers late in the campaign and enabled an advertising push during early voting. Her backers include former Mayor Megan Barry as well as a slew of former prosecutors.
Nellis’ fundraising totals put her in a distant third, but her campaign might be an indication of future political aspirations. She scored endorsements from Councilmember At-Large Bob Mendes and campaign contributions from state Rep. Harold Love, Barry and Stacey Abrams, the Georgia-based voting rights advocate and gubernatorial candidate.
Since replacing Johnson, Funk has presided over a shift in the DA’s office. A national conversation about racist and destructive systems of policing, prisons, jails and courts coincided with Funk’s first term. Major works like The New Jim Crow (2010) and 13th (2016) explained how a highly punitive criminal legal system was designed in the late 20th century to destroy Black communities. Between 2014 and 2020, social unrest across the country drew attention to police killings and a corrupt system of accountability for officers. Electorates have, at times, looked for candidates who explicitly challenged the existing criminal-legal system, like Philadelphia’s DA Larry Krasner, elected in 2017, and San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, elected in 2019.
Supporters, including some defense attorneys, credit Funk with undoing some of mass incarceration’s most highly punitive policies. Under Funk, jail populations have dropped steadily and prosecutors have eased penalties for nonviolent offenses like possession in school zones, drug penalties and driving on a suspended license. Critics — including Funk’s challengers — call for more changes faster. Nellis and Myers sketched out reforms and outreach efforts meant to tie the DA, Nashville’s top prosecutor, more closely with communities that experience violent crime.