tennessee

Battleground no longer: Here’s the Almanac of American Politics’ overview of Tennessee

(Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest edition of the Almanac of American Politics declares Tennessee’s battleground days to be in the past. The folks over at the Almanac have graciously given the TNJ: On the Hill blog permission to post this sneak peak at the state profile to be published in the latest edition, which comes out in August. Stay tuned for a profile of first-year Gov. Bill Lee later this week. 

Tennessee, once a political battleground, is no longer. It has become one of the most solidly Republican states in the country, with just a few pockets of blue in its biggest cities. And while Tennessee has long been home to an influential strain of moderate Republicanism, two of the tradition’s prime exemplars — Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — are now out of politics, succeeded in 2018 by harder-edge conservative Republicans. A third, Sen. Lamar Alexander, announced that he would not run in 2020, leaving another seat likely to be filled by a more ideological warrior. Tennessee is almost 500 miles across, closer in the east to Dover Delaware than to Memphis, and closer in the west to Dallas Texas than to Johnson City. It has had a fighting temperament since the days before the Revolutionary War, when the first settlers crossed the Appalachian ridges and headed for the rolling country in the watersheds of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. Tennessee became a state in 1796, the third state after the original 13. Its first congressman was a 29-year-old lawyer who was the son of Scots-Irish immigrants: Andrew Jackson. Jackson, who killed two men in duels, was a general who led Tennessee volunteers — it’s still called the Volunteer State –to battle against the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend in 1814 and against the British at New Orleans in 1815. He was the first president from an interior state, elected in 1828 and 1832, and was a founder of the Democratic Party, now the oldest political party in the world. Jackson was a strong advocate of the union, but 16 years to the day after his death, Tennessee voted to join the Confederacy. (Today, Jackson’s own party largely disowns him, while President Donald Trump made a pilgrimage to his gravesite and keeps his portrait in a prominent spot in the White House.)

Continue reading