Phil Bredesen

Internal Bredesen polls say Senate race deadlocked

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, right, speaks during the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate with Democratic candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen at The University of Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

Internal polling by Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign suggests the race with Republican Marsha Blackburn remains tight.

According to pollster Garin-Hart-Young, Blackburn had the support of 48% of Tennesseans in two early October polls, while Bredesen had 47%. That’s after more than $20 million in negative attacks aimed at Bredesen or supporting Blackburn. The internal pollster found the same level of support for Bredesen in a September survey, through Blackburn’s support had grown by 3 percentage points since then.

The polling site gives Garin-Hart-Young a B-plus rating. The internal Bredesen numbers are at odd with recent public polls that suggest a widening lead for Blackburn (+6 by Fox News, +8 by CBS, +14 by the New York Times).

What does the polling in the Blackburn-Bredesen race mean?

Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn speak at the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at Cumberland University Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Lebanon, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean, pool)

Fresh off an online CBS poll that had Republican Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat by 8 percentage points, a New York Times poll showed her with a 14-point lead. But a new fundraising appeal by the Senate Conservatives Fund on Friday puts Blackburn’s advantage at a comparatively paltry 2 points.

So what gives? Is the group led by Ken Cuccinelli II underplaying the advantage held by Blackburn to keep the money flowing? Or are the CBS and NYT polls outliers? As the old saying goes, the only poll that matters is on Election Day. Early voting starts on Wednesday.

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NRSC says ‘left wing radicals’ want Bredesen to win

A new ad from the National Republican Senate Committee says “left wing radicals” need Democrat Phil Bredesen to win so they can further their agenda in Congress.

“Left wing radicals plan to impeach Brett Kavanaugh. Impeach President Trump. But they have to take Congress to do it,” the ad’s narrator says. “That’s why the radicals are backing Phil Bredesen in Tennessee.”

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Agent in Bredesen ad: Blackburn made it ‘more difficult for DEA to do their job’ on opiods

A retired DEA agent appears in a new ad by Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign to criticize Republican Marsha Blackburn for sponsoring legislation that he says hampered law enforcement efforts to combat the spread of opioids.

“Congresswoman Blackburn introduced legislation in the middle of this crisis that’s going to make it more difficult for DEA to do their job,” Jim Geldhof, the ex agent, says in the ad. The industry got exactly what they wanted.”

The ad was released just hours before the final debate between Bredesen and Blackburn in Knoxville on Wednesday.

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Taylor Swift endorses Bredesen in Senate race

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

Superstar Taylor Swift has endorsed Democrat Phil Bredesen’s Senate bid over Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Swift announced her endorsement in a lengthy Instagram post on Sunday, which set of a social media frenzy among supporters and opponents alike. Here’s part of what she said:

As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.

Bredesen thanked Swift in a Twitter post:

CBS online poll has Blackburn up by 8 points

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

A new online YouGov poll by CBS News finds Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat Phil Bredesen by 8 percentage points among likely voters in Tennessee, 50%-42%.

The survey was conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. YouGov gets a B rating from polling site

In the poll was conducted on the eve of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, 47% said they would vote to confirm him, while 30% said they wold vote against. Bredesen announced Friday that he would have voted for the confirmation, upsetting some of his more liberal supporters in the process.

The Kavanaugh controversy made 55% of respondents more motivated to vote this year, while 4% said it would make them less so. Forty-one percent said it had no impact.

Among the respondents 61% approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance, while 39% disapproved. Asked what they wanted to see out of their next senator, 25% said they want a conservative who is independent from Trump while another 25% said they want a progressive who is independent from the president. Meanwhile 34% said they want someone who supports Trump as much as they can, while 16% said they are looking for someone who opposes the president as much as they can.

The poll’s sample included 53% who said they tend to vote Republican, 35% Democrats, and 9% independents.

Bredesen launches 60-second ad touting independence

Democratic Senate candidate is launching a new 60-second ad touting his independence and turning back attacks from Republican Marsha Blackburn (who also features in the ad saying nice things about Bredesen as governor).

“I’m Phil Bredesen. You know me,” Bredesen says in the ad. “When I first ran for governor, they said I’d bring in an income tax. It was just a scare tactic. I proved them wrong. I kept my word.”

Bredesen then moves on to talking about how he had to tackle spiraling TennCare costs and shows a clip of Blackburn saying “Our governor has worked diligently to get the cost down.”

The Democrat concludes the ad by launching his own attack on Blackburn.

“Today, the new scare tactic isn’t an income tax — it’s that I’ll somehow be Chuck Schumer’s lap dog. I don’t even support him,” he says. “Nobody’s going to tell me how to vote. After 16 years, Congresswoman Blackburn has become Washington. I want to change Washington.”

Bredesen a ‘yes’ on Kavanaugh nomination

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

A statement from Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen:

Presidents have the right to appoint justices who share their values–elections have consequences. I believe a Senator’s responsibility to ‘advise and consent’ is not a license to indulge in partisanship, but should focus on the qualifications of the nominee, their ethics and their temperament.

I believed that Judge Kavanaugh initially met this test, and I was prepared to say ‘yes’ to his nomination prior to Dr. Ford’s coming forward. While the subsequent events make it a much closer call, and I am missing key pieces of information that a sitting Senator has, I’m still a ‘yes.’

Dr. Ford is a heroine, and has brought forcefully into the national conversation the many barriers women face in reporting and dealing with sexual harassment and assault.  I was disgusted by the treatment she received at the hands of the Senate and am determined to help bring about a fairer and far more respectful treatment of these issues.

UPDATE: Here’s Blackburn’s response:

The timing of Phil Bredesen’s announcement is no coincidence. It’s a ploy to divert attention away from his record on sexual harassment and his weak record on illegal immigration policies. He thinks this will get him off the hook for his own sexual harassment problems, but there’s no covering up the fact that he destroyed evidence regarding sexual harassment claims against his friends and political allies. As governor, he gave drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants. He opposes the wall, and he opposes President Trump’s travel ban. His campaign is bought and paid for by Chuck Schumer and national Democrats, including Michael Bloomberg. He put off an answer on Judge Kavanaugh for 88 days, under Chuck Schumer’s direction to stay neutral as long as you can. The contrast on these issues could not be more clear.

NRSC joins the fray in Tennessee Senate race

The National Republican Senate Campaign has launched its first ad of the U.S. Senate race in Tenneseee. It warns that if Phil Bredesen wins, Denecrats could take over the chamber.

Phil Bredesen and Washington liberals will stop at nothing to take back the Senate and empower radical left-wing politicians focused on repealing the progress President Trump has achieved,” NRSC spokesman Michael McAdams said in a release.

State Democrats notes that the NRSC has received more than $70,000 from auto dealer Lee Beaman, who has stepped down from the boards of Belmont University and Montgomery Bell Academy amid sordid allegations made in his divorce proceedings from his fourth wife.

“Marsha Blackburn and the NRSC should be ashamed of themselves for funding attack ads with money from a man accused of ‘sexual manipulations and degradation.’ They have refused to speak out against Lee Beaman, who’s now the co-chair of Blackburn’s pro-life coalition. Coupled with their rubber-stamp approval of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination without even listening to the concerns of women, it’s obvious that neither Blackburn or the NRSC is interested in standing up for Tennessee women,” Beth Joslin Roth, Tennessee Victory 2018 Women’s Coalition co-chair, said in a release.

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Committee to Defend the President running ad against Bredesen

The Committee to Defend the President is running a new ad targeting Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen.

“Don’t let liberal Phil Bredesen rewind all of Trump’s accomplishments,” the narrator says. “Stop him before it’s too late.”

The PAC has spent more than $943,810 in Tennessee so far, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

UPDATE: The Bredesen camp, predictably, is not pleased. Says spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen:

Between the Koch Brothers, Mitch McConnell’s PAC, the NRSC, and every other out of state dark money group, plus the Blackburn campaign itself, Congresswoman Blackburn is taking the D.C. Diane playbook to new depths and turning on an unprecedented wave of negative attack ads in Tennessee. No amount of D.C. swamp politics can hide the fact that during her 16 years in Washington, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn has taken more than $800,000 from drug companies and in 2016 passed a law that federal drug enforcement agents said banned them from doing their job.