Blog Entries

Trump to headline Blackburn fundraiser and rally in Johnson City

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

President Donald Trump is returning to Tennessee on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the Associated Press reports. The president also plans a public rally.

Tickets to the Monday fundraiser in Johnson City are set at $10,000 per couple (that includes a photo with the president) or $25,000 to attend a roundtable beforehand. Contributions will go to Blackburn’s joint fundraising committee.

Trump’s visit follows two fundraisers and public events in Tennessee featuring Mike Pence, including last week in Knoxville and in Cleveland in July. Trump held a fundraiser and rally for Blackburn in Nashville in May.

Footage from the previous Trump visit has featured heavily in Blackburn television ads in her race against Democrat Phil Bredesen.

UPDATE: The event coincides with the date of a proposed debate between Bredesen and Blackburn in Chattanooga. The former governor still planst to be in the city that day for a “Choose Chattanooga Ideas Forum.”

UPDATE 2: The Trump rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern at Freedom Hall in Johnson City. It’s will be the sixth time Trump has visited Tennessee since he became a presidential candidate and the first time he has appeared in Johnson City.

“With just 44 days from today until the midterm elections, President Trump looks forward to sharing the great news about the booming economy that’s delivered new jobs and bigger paychecks to Tennessee families,” Michael Glassner, chief operating officer for Donald J. Trump for President Inc., said in a release. “The president will also remind Tennesseans of the critical importance to get out and vote for Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate.”

Bredesen takes aim at tariffs in new ad

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has launched a new ad taking aim at $200 million worth of trade tarrifs going into effect on Monday that caused China to slap $60  billion on retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods including soy beans.

“These tariffs are hurting our farmers and costing us manufacturing jobs. That’s not how you get fair trade,” Bredesen says in the commercial. “You use America’s leverage to open markets, not to close them.”

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Onetime rival Fincher endorses Blackburn in Senate race

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)

A release from Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn about being endorsed by former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, who dropped out of the race early this year:

Brentwood, TN –  Today, former Congressman Stephen Fincher endorsed Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate.

Speaking about his endorsement, Congressman Fincher said, “Marsha Blackburn is strong leader for Tennesseans. We know Phil Bredesen will be a rubber stamp for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s agenda, and we need to do everything to maintain the Republican majority Senate. Marsha is the only one who will stand up for our Tennessee values in the Senate, and I am proud to do everything I can to ensure she is our next Senator.“

“Stephen is a respected voice for West Tennessee, and I enjoyed getting to know him and working together for Tennessee families in the House of Representatives, ” said Marsha Blackburn. “I am so grateful to have his support and advice as we work to ensure Tennessee has solid conservative representation in the Senate.”

 

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.