Tennessee community organizer to primary Dem Rep. Jim Cooper

April 6, 2021 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee community organizer Odessa Kelly announced Monday that she will challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in the 2022 Democratic primary.

Kelly is backed by Justice Democrats, a progressive group that helped launch Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign in 2018.

“We need more pathways out of poverty, and the status quo is no longer good enough,” Kelly said in a statement. “ I know how to build coalitions that get results, and I’m running for Congress so that we can make bold, ambitious change at the national level.”

Kelly is the co-founder and executive director of Stand Up Nashville, a coalition made up of community organizers and labor unions. If she won, Kelly would become the first openly gay, Black woman in Congress.


Cooper, a white lawmaker with a reputation as a moderate Democrat, has held his Nashville-area House seat since 2003. Before that, he spent time serving in the House from 1983 to 1995.