U.S. Senate campaign

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.

Blackburn agrees to second debate

A release from Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn’s campaign:

Brentwood, TN –  Today, Marsha Blackburn announced she will participate in the October 10th debate hosted by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and Nexstar Media Group, including WKRN (Nashville), WATE (Knoxville), WATN (Memphis), WJHL (Tri Cities), and WJKT (Jackson) as part of the campaign’s debate schedule.

“From immigration to taxes, Phil Bredesen and I have serious policy differences that will drastically affect how Tennesseans are represented in the United States Senate,” said Marsha Blackburn. “I look forward to highlighting our significant policy differences at this debate, and I am grateful for the event’s organizers and volunteers, who have worked to put it together.”

On Monday, Blackburn announced she will participate in the September 25th debate hosted by the Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, News Channel 5 (WTVF), Nashville Public Television, and Cumberland University as part of the campaign’s debate schedule.

UPDATE: Reaction from Democrat Phil Bredesen spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen:

“The contrast between the candidates will be on display — Tennesseans have a choice between an 8-term Congresswoman who’s part of the Washington way or a Governor with a proven track-record of getting things done for Tennessee. Memphis is just as important as the rest of the state, and we hope that Congressman Blackburn feels the same way and reconsiders.”

Koch network launches ad targeting Bredesen

The Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the conservative Koch network, has launched its first attack on Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, taking him to task for supporting various tax increases and for the gall to have once spearheaded renovations and upgrades at the governor’s mansion. See the ad here.

The ad says Bredesen “wasted $9 million” on the mansion while the economy was in a tailspin and rehashes an old refrain against what the spot dubs a “party cave.” Contemporary attacks on the underground entertainment complex decried it as the “Bredesen Bunker,” but they never resonated much beyond conservative neighbors like Lee Beaman. It remains to be seen whether bringing the issue up again nearly a decade later will have more success.

The Bredesen campaign has responded with a video of its own in which the candidate says: “Well, the attacks have started and now you have to make sense of it all.”

The Bredesen campaign noted that Bredesen balanced eight budgets without an income tax when he was governor. “He also worked diligently with the legislature to raise the tobacco tax to fund education and to close corporate tax loopholes that were siphoning resources away from public safety, health care, education, and other priorities,” the campaign said in a release.

Blackburn takes aim at Bredesen over immigration

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

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn is taking aim at Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen in an an opinion piece published on the website of The Hill newspaper in Washington.

“As governor, Phil Bredesen adopted policies that encouraged illegal immigration,” Blackburn writes in the piece, citing his support for a driver certificate program for people in the country illegally in 2004. What she doesn’t mention is that Bredesen introduced the measure to dial back a full driver’s license program that had been championed by his Republican predecessor, Don Sundquist, who is now a Blackburn supporter. Blackburn herself had voted against the driver’s licenses bill, but had left for Congress by the time certificate measure was introduced.

The bill creating the certificates (which carried prominent markings that they were meant only for driving and “not valid for identification”) passed the Senate on a 32-0 vote and the House 96-2, meaning it had nearly full GOP support (including from Senate Speaker Randy McNally, former Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, Knox County mayor and GOP congressional nominee Tim Burchett, former state Sen. Mae Beavers, state House Majority Leader Glen Casada, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler.)

The driver certificate program was abandoned two years later after federal investigators uncovered a burgeoning black market for them.

Blackburn wrote in the opinion piece that she opposed the measures because they “openly rewarded illegal immigration and undermined the hard work of those who entered our country lawfully. Moreover, it made Tennessee a magnet for illegal immigrants.”

It’s not surprising that Phil Bredesen also opposes securing the southern border. He’s spoken out against the wall, saying that it’s just political theater. He says he’s tired of ‘nibbling around the edges’ and wants to get back to big projects. What better way to start than by building the wall. Securing our border isn’t political theater; it’s enforcing the laws of a sovereign nation, and it’s a vital step to keep Americans safe. — Blackburn in The Hill

 

Blackburn agrees to first debate with Bredesen

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

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has agreed to a Sept. 25 debate with Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen at Cumberland University in Lebanon.

The event is hosted by The Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV, and Nashville Public Television

“There are significant differences between how Phil Bredesen and I will serve Tennesseans in the Senate, and this debate will highlight that contrast,” Blackburn said in a release. “I appreciate the hard work of the event’s organizers and volunteers. I look forward to a substantive discussion about the future of our state and our country as part of our general election debates.”

Bredesen has also urged Blackburn to join him in three further debates in Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.

“In typical D.C. fashion and like the failed gubernatorial candidate Congressman Black, Congressman Blackburn is avoiding Tennessee voters,” Bredesen campaign manager Bob Corney said in a statement. “Each of the grand divisions in Tennessee deserves to hear about issues affecting their regions, starting with Memphis. This year Tennesseans have a choice to do away with the Washington way and that’s why Phil Bredesen is applying for the job.”