About That Mysterious Poll on the 2015 Mayoral Election... [Updated]

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As you may have heard by now, someone has taken an early interest in your thoughts about the 2015 mayoral race.

Veteran political commentator Pat Nolan spilled some of the beans in his column last week, reporting that a poll pertaining to Nashville's next mayoral election, and the hypothetical participants in the race, was making the rounds.

After speaking to a source of our own, who participated in the survey by phone, we've been able to confirm that, and gather a few more details about the contents of the poll. But who commissioned it? That's just what we've been trying to figure out.

After the jump, an excerpt from my story for this week's Scene, with some of what we've found:

As of this writing, no one’s claiming the poll. [At-Large Councilwoman Megan] Barry, [At-Large Councilman Jerry] Maynard, and [Davidson County Sheriff Daron] Hall all tell the Scene they had nothing to do with it. Barry and Maynard have confirmed in the past that they’re mulling a run, and while Hall stopped short of rejecting the notion, he tells the Scene he’s focused on being the sheriff and running for reelection to that post next year.

[Vice Mayor Diane] Neighbors did not respond to requests for comment, but she seems an unlikely source of the survey as well.

The poll’s focus on business — and the inclusion of his name as a candidate, among other things — had some speculating that Schulz might be behind it. But Schulz, who has consistently denied that he is even considering a run, says his hands are clean too, insisting that neither he nor the chamber had any connection to the poll. He says he first heard of it when U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, and his chief of staff Lisa Quigley, asked him about it at a reception they were all attending, apparently with the assumption that Schulz had some involvement with, or at least knowledge of, the poll.

“When they first brought it up to me,” Schulz says, “I thought it was a joke.”

One question in particular has directed speculation toward another individual, whose name does not appear in the poll’s list of hypothetical candidates. A source says the poll asks whether the respondent would “support a candidate who was a top aide to disgraced former Mayor Bill Boner” — a comically specific question that immediately brings to mind Butch Eley, who served as director of economic and community development in the Boner administration. But while Eley says he intends to be very involved in the race when it comes to supporting a candidate, he tells the Scene that he is “not considering a run” in 2015.

There has been much private speculation that the poll must have come from someone like Bill Freeman, or Frank Garrison, who would have the financial means to fund what sources say must have been a fairly expensive poll. No dice, though. We talked to them too, and they both say their hands are clean.

Check out this week's print issue of the Scene for more.

UPDATE: Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors in an email on the mystery poll this afternoon: "I had nothing to do with it but sounds very interesting."

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