U.S. Senate campaign

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.

Bredesen up 5 points in CNN poll

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

A new CNN poll has Democrat Phil Bredesen leading Republican Marsha Blackburn by 5 percentage points.

The poll shows Tennessee voters evenly split on President Donald Trump, with 49% of likely voters approving of his job performance and 48% disapproving. Ninety-two percent of those who disapprove of Trump said they back Bredesen in the Senate race.

The poll found Bredesen was viewed favorably by 52% and unfavorably by 24%. Blackburn’s favorability was 41%, while 39% saw her unfavorably. Among Republicans, 28% have a favorable view of Bredesen, while just 9% of Democrats view Blackburn favorably.

The poll finds Republican Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean by 9 percentage points — a smaller margin than the 13-points found by a recent NBC/Marist poll and the 20 points in last week’s Fox poll.

The top issues identified by those surveyed in the Tennessee poll are:

  • Health care: 27%.
  • Economy: 22%.
  • Immigration: 18%
  • National Security: 10%.
  • Gun policy: 9%.

The poll 723 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The sample includes 33% Republicans, 26% Democrats, and 42% independents.

Polling website FiveThirtyEight gives CNN pollster SSRS an A-minus rating.


Blackburn denounces ’11th-hour smear,’ Bredesen calls for hearings

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn wants to move along with a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite allegations of sexual misconduct while he was in high school. Democrat Phil Bredesen says the Senate should hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has made the allegations.

“Dianne Feinstein has had this letter since July. This is a delay tactic. Dr. Ford should testify under oath, and Senator Grassley should proceed with the vote as scheduled,” Blackburn said in a statement.

“Chuck Schumer is telling the Democrats to delay while they attempt an 11th hour smear of Judge Kavanaugh, and Phil Bredesen is already doing what he’s told to do,” she said.

Bredesen video highlights Blackburn praise for TennCare cuts

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign has released a new video that features Republican rival Marsha Blackburn praising the former governor for his handling of the state’s TennCare crisis.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Andy Sher reports that digital spot follows an video posted on the Blackburn website that shows a GOP campaign tracker asking Bredesen at a stop in Tullahoma about the impact of the cuts on people who were disenrolled. “Do you have nothing to say about the people who died, Mr. Bredesen?” the tracker shouts.

The Bredesen ad shows Blackburn appearances on cable news and written statements and comments in congressional hearings.

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University of Memphis asks Blackburn to remove video

The University of Memphis is requesting that Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn take down a video of the school’s cheerleaders chanting “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” with the candidate Saturday’s football game.

‪Tigers for Marsha Marsha Marsha!!! #GoTigersGo #StripeUp‬

Posted by Marsha Blackburn on Friday, September 14, 2018

Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal’s “The 9:01” column reports that school issued the following statement after the video was posted:

The Athletics Office was notified that pictures of the University of Memphis Spirit Squads were posted on political social media sites. U of M Spirit Squads do not endorse any candidate(s) for political office in accordance with U of M policies. Political organizers were contacted to remove any and all posts suggesting endorsement by the University of Memphis.

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Ramsey touts Blackburn bid in op-ed

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

Former state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has penned an op-ed in the Johnson City Press touting Republican Marsha Blackburn’s U.S. Senate bid over Democrat Phil Bredesen.

“We saw the blue wave come crashing through Virginia last year, but we cannot allow that to happen here in Tennessee,” Ramsey writes.

“Do not buy Bredesen’s false promises to be a moderate,” he said. “He will not support the president, and he will not put your best interests before those of the national Democratic Party.”

UPDATE: Former state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens has an op-ed running alongside Ramsey’s in support of Bredesen.

“This November, Tennesseans have a choice: they can either pick eight-term Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn who’s been helping to create gridlock in Washington for nearly two decades, or they can hire Gov. Phil Bredesen, an independent thinker who has a proven track record of working across the aisle to get things done for Tennessee,”Givens wrote.

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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.”