Bredesen reported entering U.S. Senate race

After weeks of considering the possibility, former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen has decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Bob Corker, it was reported on Wednesday – first by the Nashville Post.

According to multiple sources, Bredesen began calling major donors this afternoon to confirm that he is in the race….His entrance in the Senate race means there will be a contested primary next August, something attorney and political newcomer James Mackler was hoping to avoid. However, it’s possible a competitive primary could spur interest in the race from Democrats who have been used to having a slate of candidates on statewide ballots that range from bad to abysmal in recent years. And along with a possibly competitive governor’s race and a national atmosphere predicted to be like 2006 and 2010 — as far as flipping seats — Bredesen’s entrance should make for a very interesting race indeed.

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to face either U.S Rep. Marsha Blackburn or former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher. 

The Tennessean says it got confirmation of Bredesen’s plans from three sources and the formal announcement will come Thursday. There’s this quote from Mackler:

“The best pathway to win Tennessee is having a clear contrast between an Iraq war combat veteran that volunteers to serve his country against a career politician who only serves special interests, and with the help of Tennesseans across this state, we’re going to win.”

(Mackler has previously referred to Blackburn as a “career politician” — as has Fincher, for that matter.)

The Times Free Press report has this comment from Republican Blackburn, who immediately criticized the former governor:

“Tennessee families want change and that is not what 74-year-old Democrat politician Phil Bredesen will bring to the United States Senate …  Bredesen’s views are out-of-touch with Tennessee values, he supported President Obama’s liberal policies, is against second amendment rights and even authored a plan to give illegal immigrants driving certificates.”

And the AP says Democrats were heartened to learn of Bredesen’s decision.

“He’ll make a great candidate; I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Will Cheek, a longtime Democratic activist. “Phil Bredesen is the kind of Democrat that can win in a state like this — he’s done it before. I’m not sure he’s not the front-runner at this point.”

Nashville attorney Jeff Yarbro, one of just five Democrats in the 33-member state Senate, said voters are still familiar with Bredesen — and wiling to vote for him.

“People in Tennessee know Phil Bredesen, and the last time he ran, he won all 95 counties,” Yarbro said. “His entry into the race confirms just how big an election year 2018 will be.”

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