U.S. Senate campaign

Former Gov. Winfield Dunn endorses Blackburn

Former Tennessee Gov. Winfield Dunn has endorsed Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn.

“November’s election is not about the past; it is about the future of the state and the country,” Dunn, 91,  said in a release. “Marsha Blackburn is the only candidate who will vote to protect Tennessee values. She has dedicated her life to making things better for her fellow Tennesseans, and she will represent us faithfully in the United States Senate.”

Dunn’s election as governor in 1970 kicked off a new two-party era in Tennessee state government that had largely been controlled by Democrats since Reconstruction. Dunn made another bid for governor against Democrat Ned Ray McWherter in 1986, but fell short. He has since become an elder statesman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Democratic group takes aim at Blackburn over opioids

A new ad being run by the Democratic-aligned group Majority Forward criticizes Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn’s role in the opioid epidemic sweeping the country, The TennesseanJoel Ebert reports.

“Congresswoman Blackburn helped pass special legislation to restrict law enforcement’s ability to combat the opioid crisis and hold drug companies accountable,” the ad’s narrator says.

According to Ebert:

In 2016, Blackburn co-sponsored a bill that critics said limited the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to freeze suspicious shipments of drugs. The legislation was highlighted in a 2017 joint investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.”

After the joint investigation was published, Blackburn vowed to lead the effort to revise the law and fix any unintended consequences.

In August she said the DEA has yet to offer guidance to Congress on addressing the law, which has prevented her from taking action.

Blackburn’s campaign spokeswoman, Abbi Sigler, said the congressman has introduced bipartisan measure to increase civil and criminal penalties for bad actors and give law enforcement additional tools.

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has said he would sign on to efforts to reverse the legislation if he is elected in November.

Majority Forward is the nonprofit wing of the Senate Majority PAC, which Republicans have said is run by close associates of Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. The group has also run ads criticizing Blackburn for her congressional salary and trips she’s taken that were paid for by interest groups. It has also run ads supporting Bredesen.

Bredesen camp issues ‘Transparency in TV’ challenge

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is issuing a “Transparency in TV” challenge to Marsha Blackburn’s camp after the Republican released an ad featuring people who purportedly voted for Bredesen as governor but won’t do the same again for Senate.

(The Tennessee Journal asked the Blackburn campaign to identify the people featured in the ad, but has yet to hear back. A spokeswoman told The Tennessean — and later the TNJ — that “voters featured in these ads are real, unpaid Tennessee voters,” but did not give further details.)

Bredesen spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen released the names, occupations, and hometowns of the five people featured in Bredesen’s latest spot titled “Brown Bag.”

The five Bredesen voters are identified as: Ann Johnson, businesswoman, Williamson County; Heather Powell, public school parent, Nashville; Jack Pratt, farmer, Wilson County; Marianne Schroer, civic leader, Franklin; and Frank Stevenson, faith leader, Nashville.

“From our perspective, this is a campaign about authenticity, ideas, and — above all else — honesty,” Hansen said. “Hopefully, Congresswoman Blackburn’s campaign will be as transparent as Governor Bredesen has told us to be.”

Purported former Bredesen voters say ‘not this time’ in Blackburn ad

A new ad by Republican Marsha Blackburn’s campaign and the National Republican Senate Committee features people who say they voted for Bredesen for governor, but won’t do so for Senate.

The Bredesen campaign was unimpressed.

“While Congressman Blackburn is too busy focusing on swamp scare tactics and continuing to follow the losing D.C. Diane playbook by dodging debates, Governor Bredesen is in Memphis today to share his ideas with voters in West Tennessee,” spokeswoman Ayssa Hansen said in an email.

“As he has said from Day 1, this campaign is open to voters of all stripes who are tired of hyper-partisan squabbling,” she said.

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Fox News poll has Blackburn leading Bredesen by 3

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate nominee in Tennessee, speaks at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Marsha Blackburn has a 3 percentage point edge over Democrat Phil Bredesen in a new Fox News poll released Wednesday. The survey results follow an NBC/Marist poll that found Bredesen with a 2-point lead last week. Both polls receive A ratings from the polling website FiveThirtyEight.

In the Fox poll, Blackburn had 47% support, compared with Bredesen’s 44%. The poll of  686 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll showed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee with a 20-point lead over Democrat Karl Dean, 55%-35%, with 16% of Bredesen supporters crossing over to support Lee.

Eighty-one percent of Bredesen’s supporters said they feel certain they will vote for him, while 74% of Blackburn’s supporters said the same for her. Twenty percent said they might change their vote before November, while 8% were undecided.

Among those who said they support President Trump, 76% said they support Blackburn, while 16% support Bredesen. The former governor was supported by 93% of Democrats polled, while 83% of Republicans said they plan to vote for Blackburn.

According to the poll, the top issues for voters are:

  • Economy and jobs: 29%.
  • Health care: 27%.
  • Immigration: 14%
  • Taxes: 8%
  • Gun policy: 6%
  • Foreign Policy: 3%
  • International trade: 1%

Popularity ratings were similar for both candidates the Fox poll, with 54% having a favorable impression of Bredesen and 36% seeing him unfavorably. Blackburn’s favs/unfavs were 51%-39%.

President Trump had a 58% approval rating among likely voters, while 38% disapproved.

Thirty-nine percent of those polled said they think Trump’s trade policies are helping the U.S. economy, while 37% said they are hurting.

Bredesen, Blackburn make balanced budget pitches

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

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn on Tuesday unveiled rival plans for balancing the federal budget.

Bredesen told the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce that he wants to freeze all spending except Social Security to balance the budget within six years. Blackburn said she supports a balance budget amendment and across-the-board spending cuts for all but military expenditures.

“Everyone gives lip service to fixing the deficit, but there has been no action.  Democrats — my own party — have never been great on the subject, but since the Reagan era, Republicans have completely fallen off the wagon as well,” Bredesen said. “We ought to give it some serious thought.”

Republican Marsha Blackburn also tweeted her support for balancing the federal budget.

“I’ve been a deficit hawk, and I plan to take that same steely commitment to the U.S. Senate,” Blackburn said in a release.

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NBC/Marist poll has Bredesen leading Blackburn by 2 points

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen speaks at a forum on business issues in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new NBC/Marist poll in the Tennessee Senate race has Democrat Phil Bredesen leading Republican Marsha Blackburn by 2 percentage points among likely voters, and 4 points among registered voters. Both are within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll found the governor’s race is far less competitive: Republican Bill Lee was leading Democrat Karl Dean 53%-40% .

Among likely voters, Bredesen was up 48-46, with 5% undecided.  Bredesen’s margin was 48-44 among registered voters.

Bredesen has near unanimous support among Democrats (97%-0%),  compared with Blackburn, who had an 86%-9% advantage among Republicans. Indepedents were leaning toward Bredesen 49%-45%.

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Blackburn ad reminds voters of Trump support

In case you forgot, President Donald Trump is supporting Republican Marsha Blackburn in this year’s U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. She has a new ad to prove the point.

The spot rehashes comments Trump made at a rally for Blackburn in Nashville earlier this year: “Phil, whatever the hell his name is, this guy will 100 percent vote against us every single time.”

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Bredesen says attack ad is ‘full of flat-out lies’

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen in a new ad denounces what he calls “flat-out lies” in a spot being run by the Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the conservative Koch network.

Bredesen in the ad takes Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn to task for the content of the ad that claims Bredesen supported gas and sales tax increases while he was governor (Politifact on Thursday called those claims “false.”)

“Congresswoman Blackburn, you’ve been in Washington 16 years now and frankly this ad shows it,” Bredesen says in the spot. The Democrat’s campaign has alleged coordination between the AFP and the Blackburn camp since top aide was recorded telling a GOP crowd that he expected the outside group to be a major player in the campaign.

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Bredesen announces sportsmen’s support group

A release from Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign:

UNIONVILLE, Tenn. — To mark the first day of dove hunting season in Tennessee on Saturday, September 1, the Bredesen for Senate Campaign is announcing the launch of the “Sportsmen and Sportswomen for Bredesen” group to provide a space for people who share similar interests — whether hunting, finishing, or enjoying the outdoors — to organize around Governor Phil Bredesen’s campaign for the U.S. Senate and highlight his support for issues that are important to them, such as tackling the Asian Carp invasion in Tennessee’s waterways.  

Governor Bredesen will be hunting in Unionville on Saturday afternoon and will be joined by local Sportsmen for Bredesen supporters.

“Not only has Governor Bredesen listened to the concerns of the angler community while he’s on the trail, but he also responded with a proposal to help support our outdoors tourism economy,” said Jim Perry, retired West Tennessee fishing guide and a founding member of the Sportsmen and Sportswomen for Bredesen group.  “Our community has been begging for this type of leadership and attention for several years. Finally, someone is listening. No other federal representative from Tennessee has made any proposal regarding Asian Carp. It is clear: Bredesen will be our champion.”

Governor Bredesen is an avid outdoorsman and fisherman and has made it a priority to highlight local issues affecting this group of Tennesseans on the campaign trail. In May, after learning about the Asian Carp issue at the Paris Fish Fry, he wrote an op-ed focusing on the harm that Asian Carp is having on native fish in Tennessee’s lakes and rivers and offered solutions for how he would address this problem in the U.S. Senate.