Blackburn decries ‘angry mob’ while Bredesen supporters look to turn out African-American vote

Democratic candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn shake hands after the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at The University of Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

As Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn makes a big media push about what she calls a “liberal angry mob” for disrupting a weekend rally with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an independent group called the Black Progressive Action Coalition has jumped into the contest, spending more than $2.7 million on canvassing and direct mail in its support of Democrat Phil Bredesen.

Early voting has been highest so far in Shelby and Davidson counties, the state’s largest in terms of overall and African-American populations. Bredesen will need to carry both counties by large margins and also peel off traditionally Republican voters in other parts of the state in order to win next week’s election. Blackburn’s efforts will be focused on trying to prevent Republicans who gave President Donald Trump a 26-point victory in Tennessee in 2016 from crossing over to support Bredesen.

Total spending by outside groups had topped $46 million through Tuesday morning. That total includes $26 million spent by Republican-aligned groups: $19.7 million to attack Bredesen and $6.3 million to support Blackburn. Out of the $20.1 million spent by Democratic groups, $15 million has gone toward opposing Blackburn, while $5.1 has gone toward supporting Bredesen.

Here’s a breakdown of the biggest outside spenders so far:

1. Senate Leadership Fund
Blackburn-Support: $2.48 million
Bredesen-Oppose: $13.49 million

2. Majority Forward
Blackburn-Oppose: $8.4 million
Bredesen-Support: $1.7 million

3. SMP
Blackburn-Oppose: $5.56 million
Bredesen-Support: $70,000

4. Black Progressive Action Coalition
Bredesen-Support: $2.72 million

5. Americans For Prosperity Action, Inc.
Blackburn-Support: $2.13 million
Bredesen-Oppose: $433,000

6. Americans For Prosperity
Blackburn-Support: $72,547
Bredesen-Oppose: $2.08 million

Bredesen-Oppose: $1.53 million

8. American Federation Of State County & Municipal Employees
Blackburn-Oppose: $1 million

9. National Rifle Association Of America Political Victory Fund
Blackburn-Support $496,315
Bredesen-Oppose: $496,130

10. The Committee To Defend The President
Blackburn-Support: $7,000
Bredesen-Oppose: $944,967

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