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New poll has Bredesen edging Blackburn 51-49

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks at a rallt in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new automated poll by Republican polling firm Vox Populi Communications finds Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen with a 51% to 49% advantage among likely voters over the GOP’s Marsha Blackburn.

The poll also found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean 55% to 45%.

Fifty-five percent said they approved of President Donald Trump’s performance, while 42% said they disapproved (40% said they think Trump should be impeached or forced to leave, while 60% said they disagreed).

Among other findings:

  • 25% approve of cutting entitlement programs like Medicare to balance the budget, 76% oppose.
  • 41% support abolishing ICE, 59% disapprove.
  • 44% say Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs are helping the state economy, 56% say hurting.
  • 57% say the support “a single payer healthcare system where the federal government would pay for healthcare for all Americans even if it means raising taxes to pay for it,” while 43% oppose.

The poll included 43% who identify as Republican, 32% as Democrats, and 25% as independents. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Polling site FiveThirtyEight rates NBC/Marist (Bredesen +2) and Fox (Blackburn +3) with an A, and CNN (Bredesen +5) with an A-minus. The site gives Vox (Bredesen +2) a B, with a 77% average of calling races correctly.

 

Bredesen ad features (identified) Republican supporters

A new ad by Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen features Tennessee Republicans talking about why they are supporting him over GOP candidate Marsha Blackburn.

A recent Blackburn ad features purported former Bredesen voters when he was running for governor who now say they support the Republican, but the Bredesen campaign has denounced that spot as “using actors parroting fake lines.” The Blackburn camp insists they are real, unpaid Tennessee voters, but hasn’t identified them.

The Bredesen campaign identifies the five speakers his new spot as:

  • John Finch, contractor and former Mayor of Goodlettsville.
  • Sally Gracey, office manager.
  • Jamie White, law student.
  • Grady Gaskill, retiree.
  • Tom Cigarran, entrepreneur [and Nashville Predators owner]
  • Magi Curtis, public affairs professional.

 

 

Tennessee unemployment edges up, but still ‘historically low’

Tennessee’s unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% in August, a 0.1 percentage point increase from the previous month. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said that despite “this very small fluctuation,” Tennessee’s jobless rate is still among the lowest in the nation.

“The fact the rate has seen such little movement over the last year reflects the strength of our state’s economy and our work over the past eight years to develop Tennessee’s workforce to meet the needs of today’s employers,” Haslam said in a statement.

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NRA endorses Blackburn, Bredesen touts A rating as governor

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a business forum in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Republican Marsha Blackburn in the U.S. Senate race and is lashing out at Democrat Phil Bredesen for pointing out his A rating from the gun rights group when he was a candidate for governor in 2006 and 2002.

“Tennesseans know they can count on me to be consistent in my support for their rights and freedoms,” Blackburn said in a release.

Bredesen promptly released a new TV ad in which his discusses being a lifelong hunter and gun owner.

The NRA called on Bredesen to retract the ad, though it’s unclear what exactly is untruthful about it (the group says Bredesen has a D in its current ranking, but Bredesen speaks only about his time as governor when he had the A). The NRA’s Chris Cox said: “Phil Bredesen opposes the constitutional freedoms of law-abiding gun owners and would be a rubber stamp for Chuck Schumer’s gun control agenda in Washington, D.C. He can’t be trusted to defend our Second Amendment rights.”

 

Randy Boyd nominated as interim president of University of Tennessee

Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 25, 2018. The former Republican gubernatorial candidate was nominated to serve as interim president of the Univeristy of Tennessee on Sept. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd, an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year, has been nominated as the interim president of the University of Tennessee system.

Boyd was Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief higher education adviser before being named economic and community development commissioner. He played key roles in the development of the Tennessee Promise free community college program and the governor’s Drive to 55 initiative to boost the state’s graduation rates.

The Board of Trustees will consider Boyd’s nomination in a Sept. 25. He would succeed President Joe DiePietro, who announced this week that he plans to retire from active service on Nov. 21. Boyd has agreed to forgo a salary while serving up to two years while an external search for a permanent replacement takes place.

Boyd, the founder of a Knoxville pet products company, poured at least $19.5 million of his own money into his gubernatorial bid. He ended up coming in second to Franklin businessman Bill Lee in the GOP primary.

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Politifact rates Bredesen ‘mostly true’ in allegation about Blackburn opioids bill

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to the Nashville Rotary on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s claim that Republican rival Marsha Blackburn passed legislation “at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry” to weaken the DEA opioid enforcement has been rated “mostly true” by Politifact.

Bredesen has said he would sign on to legislation to undo the bill co-sponsored by Blackburn in 2016 that was the center of an investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post played a major role in scuttling the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to serve as national drug czar.

Blackburn soon called for addressing “unintended consequences” of the law, but Politifact said she didn’t join efforts to roll back the bill as recommended by the Justice Department. She submitted a bill that increased penalties for drug diversion but left the enforcement changes untouched.

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Latest Blackburn ad again highlights income tax opposition

Marsha Blackburn’s role in fighting an income tax as a state legislator helped propel her to Congress 16 years ago. The Republican Senate candidate is hoping the issue still resonates with Tennesseans as early voting gets underway in just under a month.

The income tax is featured in Blackburn’s latest TV ad as an example of how “fighting against all odds is the story of her life.”

Here’s a transcript of the ad:

They didn’t hire women, but Marsha Blackburn sold books door to door and became the first woman ever hired by the Southwestern Company. She fought powerful leaders in her own party to stop a Tennessee State Income Tax – and won. Marsha Blackburn will never back down to Washington big spenders in both parties, because fighting against all odds is the story of her life. Marsha Blackburn for Tennessee.

Bredesen up 5 points in CNN poll

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to reporters after at a Farm Bureau speech in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new CNN poll has Democrat Phil Bredesen leading Republican Marsha Blackburn by 5 percentage points.

The poll shows Tennessee voters evenly split on President Donald Trump, with 49% of likely voters approving of his job performance and 48% disapproving. Ninety-two percent of those who disapprove of Trump said they back Bredesen in the Senate race.

The poll found Bredesen was viewed favorably by 52% and unfavorably by 24%. Blackburn’s favorability was 41%, while 39% saw her unfavorably. Among Republicans, 28% have a favorable view of Bredesen, while just 9% of Democrats view Blackburn favorably.

The poll finds Republican Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean by 9 percentage points — a smaller margin than the 13-points found by a recent NBC/Marist poll and the 20 points in last week’s Fox poll.

The top issues identified by those surveyed in the Tennessee poll are:

  • Health care: 27%.
  • Economy: 22%.
  • Immigration: 18%
  • National Security: 10%.
  • Gun policy: 9%.

The poll 723 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The sample includes 33% Republicans, 26% Democrats, and 42% independents.

Polling website FiveThirtyEight gives CNN pollster SSRS an A-minus rating.

 

Blackburn denounces ’11th-hour smear,’ Bredesen calls for hearings

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn wants to move along with a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite allegations of sexual misconduct while he was in high school. Democrat Phil Bredesen says the Senate should hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has made the allegations.

“Dianne Feinstein has had this letter since July. This is a delay tactic. Dr. Ford should testify under oath, and Senator Grassley should proceed with the vote as scheduled,” Blackburn said in a statement.

“Chuck Schumer is telling the Democrats to delay while they attempt an 11th hour smear of Judge Kavanaugh, and Phil Bredesen is already doing what he’s told to do,” she said.

Bredesen video highlights Blackburn praise for TennCare cuts

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign has released a new video that features Republican rival Marsha Blackburn praising the former governor for his handling of the state’s TennCare crisis.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Andy Sher reports that digital spot follows an video posted on the Blackburn website that shows a GOP campaign tracker asking Bredesen at a stop in Tullahoma about the impact of the cuts on people who were disenrolled. “Do you have nothing to say about the people who died, Mr. Bredesen?” the tracker shouts.

The Bredesen ad shows Blackburn appearances on cable news and written statements and comments in congressional hearings.

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