Mayor John Cooper has named TJ Ducklo as his new top spokesperson, turning to a Nashville native for messaging at a crucial point in his administration.
Ducklo's official title is chief communications officer and senior adviser. He has already started working part-time with Cooper and will transition full-time on April 25. The mayor's office noted that his purview would also include advising on political and strategic decisions.
Ducklo graduated from University School of Nashville in 2007 and George Washington University in 2011. He held a variety of political and media relations positions before joining the presidential campaign of Joe Biden in 2019 as press secretary. After Biden’s inauguration, Ducklo became the White House deputy press secretary.
His stay in the Biden Administration was a short one. After Politico started reporting that Ducklo was dating a reporter at Axios, Ducklo lashed out at reporter Tara Palmeri for the story.
From an account in Vanity Fair:
“The confrontation began on Inauguration Day, January 20, after Palmeri, a coauthor of Politico’s Playbook, contacted McCammond for comment while one of her male colleagues left a message for Ducklo, according to the sources. Ducklo subsequently called a Playbook editor to object to the story, but was told to call the Playbook reporters with his concerns. But instead of calling the male reporter who initially contacted him, Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo told her, according to the sources, adding that he would ruin her reputation if she published it.”
Following the event becoming public, Ducklo was suspended for a week. He resigned from the administration a few days later. In all, his White House tenure lasted less than a month.
In June 2021, Ducklo joined a New York public relations firm.
Ducklo joins Cooper’s team as it must navigate a variety of messaging headaches and challenges and as the mayor prepares to run for reelection next year: the lingering effects of COVID on the city, a record property tax increase, garbage pick-up problems and the ongoing negotiations to build a new stadium for the Tennessee Titans.
Ducklo, who announced in late 2019 he had lung cancer, will become Cooper’s fourth press secretary in two-and-a-half years.
"We're excited to welcome TJ home to Nashville and to have his help communicating our vision for the city's future," Cooper said. "He has built a reputation as a skilled and talented communicator at the highest levels of media and politics, criss-crossing the country to help elect the president while facing a tough personal battle with cancer. We're lucky to have him join our team."