Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), who represents a very blue congressional district in the Nashville area, on Tuesday announced that he will not seek re-election in the aftermath of the state Republicans’ redrawing of Tennessee’s congressional map.
Cooper’s announcement was issued less than 24 hours after Tennessee House GOP members approved a plan to split Davidson County into three congressional districts, further shrinking the foothold Democrats have in the red state. GOP lawmakers’ plan passed swiftly through the state Senate earlier this month.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” Cooper said in a statement announcing his retirement. “No one tried harder to keep our city whole.”
Cooper said he explored “every possible way” to stop the GOP from dramatically redrawing his district. He considered lawsuits as well as attempting to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville, he said.
“There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates,” Cooper said.
Cooper added that he decided to announce his decision “promptly” to allow others more time to campaign. Cooper also pledged to serve out the remainder of his term and to return individual contributions he received for his now-defunct re-election campaign in order for donors to “redirect them as they choose.”
Tennessee’s Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 4.
Earlier this month, Cooper decried the planned gerrymander as “an insult to all Nashvillians” that is “likely to backfire” on the GOP.
“It’s not conservative to split a county that’s been whole for 240 years,” Cooper said in a statement to the Tennessean and the Associated Press earlier in January.