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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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Leatherwood nominated to succeed late Rep. Lollar

The Shelby County Republican Party has named former state Sen. Tom Leatherwood as the nominee to succeed to state Rep. Ron Lollar, who died less than a month before the primary election.

The decision was made by the three members of the county party’s steering committee who live in the 99th House District, The Daily News of Memphis reports.

“This is new to all of us,” Shelby County Republican Party chairman Lee Mills, who recused himself for the vote because he was also a contender for the nomination. “So it’s a little awkward. I don’t believe we’ve ever done this before.”

Leatherwood served in the Senate from 1992 to 2000, when he was elected register of deeds in Shelby County. He made an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in 2008, saying that “too many Republicans got Potomac fever and became more self-serving.”

Leatherwood, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination for circuit court clerk in August, faces Democratic nominee Dave Cambron in the general election for the state House seat.

Knoxville News Sentinel endorses Boyd

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd speaks to reporters in Belle Meade on July 25, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Randy Boyd has been endorsed by his hometown newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The newspaper praises the Knoxville businessman for his “full-blown, thoughtful platform addressing jobs, education, health care and rural development.”

“But he wasn’t about to be torpedoed by more-conservative-than-thou demagoguery,” the paper editorialized. “When U.S. Rep. Diane Black came out with an attack ad questioning his conservative credentials, he fired back.”

The Boyd endorsements comes after the conservative side of the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ opinion pages endorsed Bill Lee in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

EPA loophole for ‘glider’ trucks OK’d on Pruitt’s last day

On his last day before resigning amid ethics scandals U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt granted a loophole to allow dealers to sell new trucks with old engines built into them that can pollute at as much as 55 times the levels those covered by modern emission controls, the New York Times reports .

The loophole has been promoted by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Crossville company that has given heavily to Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign. Black has traveled on the company’s private plane to attend campaign events.

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Beacon releases ‘long-awaited’ transit alternative

The Beacon Center, a conservative think tank, has released what it bills as its “long-awaited” alternative to Nashville’s failed transit proposal. It includes calls to end incentives and grants for companies to move downtown, lifting restrictions on private shuttle companies, and promote telecommuting.

The plan also calls for traffic signals to control access to downtown interstates, diverting trucks onto I-840, and converting HOV lanes into toll lanes.

See the whole report here. While the Beacon Center (and board member Lee Beaman, the Nashville auto dealer) hold great sway in the heavily Republican General Assembly, their influence in the just as heavily Democratic Metro Council is considerably less.

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Bredesen takes aim at Trump trade policies, but ‘fine’ with North Korea outreach

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is taking aim at Trump administration trade policies in a new ad, while also declaring that he’s “fine” with the president’s outreach to North Korea. The former governor says that’s in keeping with his pledge to agree with the president when his initiatives benefit Tennesseans, while opposing them when they don’t.

“These new tariffs will hurt us,” Bredesen says while standing in front of a rack of whiskey barrels. “They hurt our auto industry, our farmers, even Tennessee exports like Jack Daniel’s.”

Here’s the spot:

The Bredesen campaign also released a 60-second video featuring the former governor speaking with the owners of Nashville-based Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery about how a trade war could hurt small businesses. The distillery was also the site of a visit in October 2016 by then-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman as the Obama administration was making a final push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP was later abandoned by Trump.

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New book on history of slavery in Tennessee

“History Bill,” as former Tennessean reporter Bill Carey is known in overseeing the non-profit Tennessee History For Kids organization, has waded through hundreds of old newspaper archives to produce a book that starkly illustrates how deeply slavery was once embedded in a state that now is often presented as a leader – well, at least in comparison to other Southern states — in opposition to the now-outlawed ownership of men, women and children by other men, women and children.

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Haslam on questions about TBI director nominees: Nobody’s perfect

Gov. Bill Haslam says he will personally interview all three nominees for director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with the understanding issues have been raised about all the men and that no one is perfect, reports the Times Free Press.

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Alexander and Corker criticize Trump move to put tariffs on vehicle part imports for national security (UPDATED)

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, are both criticizing a proposal by President Trump that could lead to heavy new tariffs on imported vehicle parts.

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Black bill proposes crowdfunding to help pay for border wall with Mexico

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who is stressing her opposition to illegal immigration in campaigning for governor, has proposed in Congress to use crowdfunding to help pay for the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump, reports Fox News. She has also issued a press release on the “Border Wall Trust Fund Act.”

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