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Decision 2020: Three candidates vying for Democratic nomination for 5th Congressional District

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Three candidates are on the ballot for the Democratic nomination for the Fifth Congressional District.

Early voting begins Friday for the primary and county general elections.

“People know me. They know my work,” said Congressman Jim Cooper, who has represented the district since being elected in 2002.

The Fifth Congressional District includes Davidson and Dickson counties and part of Cheatham County.

“I’m proud of Nashville. It’s a wonderful community,” said Cooper. “We have been hammered by COVID. We’ve been hammered by this bad economy, but we’re going to recover.”

For the first time in about a decade, Cooper will have competition in this year’s Democratic primary: Keeda Haynes and Joshua Rawlings.

Haynes is a public defender in Davidson County and calls herself a champion for the people, especially the disenfranchised. She said she knows from experience what it’s like to be judged.

“I’m originally from Franklin, TN, born and raised, but I have lived in Nashville 2006 when I came home from federal prison for years for serving a crime that I didn’t commit,” said Haynes.

After graduating college, Haynes said she was sentenced to federal prison after she accepted a package from her ex-boyfriend that contained marijuana. She said he told her the box contained pagers and cell phones. She ended up appealing the sentence and won, serving only three years in prison.

Haynes worked her way through law school. It’s because of her experience that she’s so passionate about justice reform.

“I will advocate for every single person in the community and in the district because I don’t want anybody to feel locked out and left behind,” said Haynes.

Rawlings is a small business owner and a musician. The 27-year-old said don’t let his age be a distraction.

“I’ve been really fortunate to see the breath of America and speak with thousands and thousands about their plight and their rights and what they want out of their government,” said Rawlings.

Rawlings is passionate about getting things done for everyday people. He feels like it’s time for Congress to represent the communities they serve.

“I know we all remember when there was a House committee that was interviewing Mark Zuckerberg and they had to ask just basic questions about the structure and architecture of the internet,” said Rawlings. “Well considering the fact that the resource and technology is the most important thing that we can foster and cater, we deserve to have representatives that understand that landscape.”

Each candidate feels they know they can bring their own perspectives to Washington, DC, and help Middle Tennessee thrive.

“I’m about the only congressman in America who hands out his personal cell phone number so that people can get in direct touch all the time, even during COVID, because that’s what they want, to cut through red tape,” said Cooper.

“I just think I am the voice that we need in Nashville,” said Haynes. “The change that we are seeking and the change that we are all demanding in order to move, not just our community forward, but to be able to move our country forward.”

“I want to bring a coalition of conservatives, independents, Democrats who are seeking common-sense solution to problems we all agree need to be addressed,” said Rawlings.

Early voting begins Friday and runs through Aug. 1. Election day is Aug. 6.

See the full interview with candidates

Jim Cooper

Keeda Haynes

Joshua Rawlings


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