In an unexpected move, Nashville attorney Matt Sweeney announced this morning he is withdrawing from the race for the Davidson County Chancery Court.
Sweeney, an attorney with Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, had filed all the paperwork and qualified to run against Chancellor Russell T. Perkins, who was recently appointed to the seat by Governor Phil Bredesen.
Last week, Sweeney saw the Davidson County Democratic Executive Committee endorse Perkins over his own candidacy in an internal party race that a number of NashvillePost.com sources said was heavily influenced by supporters of Bredesen. It would have been highly embarrassing for the Democratic governor to have his appointee not be nominated for an election by his own party.
Today, in a letter to supporters, Sweeney says that he is endorsing Perkins and has met with him to inform him of his decision. A full copy of that letter can be found below.
Speaking anonymously, some Sweeney supporters told NashvillePost.com this morning that they are disappointed but respect his decision. One individual stated that, for Sweeney to make a race at this point, he would have had to appeal to Republican money and voters. As a Democrat contemplating a bid as an independent, that was not something he was prepared or willing to do.
Even if he had chosen to appeal to a GOP fund-raising base, Sweeney would still have been listed as an independent on the ballot and would have faced an uphill battle to knock out the Democratic nominee in a Democratic county.
Here is a copy of Sweeney's letter:
Thank you again for all of your support and your encouragement.
I have long hoped to serve as a judge again, and this year becoming a Chancellor looked particularly promising. The support I received from the Bar in the candidate poll was phenomenal. I was disappointed when I was not included among the nominees to the Governor, but I decided to persevere and qualified for the August election. At that time, we had no idea when or whether an appointment would be made, and the deadline to qualify was April 3.
Russell Perkins has now been appointed as the Chancellor, and selected as the Democratic Party nominee. Based on these developments, I will not pursue the election and will withdraw as a candidate. We will refund all campaign contributions.
I have met with Chancellor Perkins and have congratulated him and informed him of my decision to withdraw.
Again, thank you all for everything you have done for me in this and previous campaigns.