Karl Dean: Bredesen’s run for Senate a ‘confidence booster’ for TN Democrats

Tennessee gets a mention in a Politico review of 2018 gubernatorial races around the nation under the headline, “The next GOP panic: Governors’ races” with Gov. Bill Haslam and Democratic candidate Karl Dean quoted. A Tennessee-oriented excerpt:

With exactly half of the 26 Republican-held seats up for grabs in 2018 being left open by a departing governor, a surge of Democratic turnout could overwhelm any goodwill individual GOP incumbents may have built up in tight states.

“We’re playing [on] a little bit of an uphill playing board,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the Republican Governors Association chairman. “Add that to the traditional challenges of having your party be in the White House, and for that president’s first midterm, and I think there’s no question we have our work cut out for us.”

…The presence of high-octane Senate races in other places — namely Nevada, Ohio, and even Tennessee — stands to juice turnout even further in those states.

“The fact that former Gov. [Phil] Bredesen got into the race for Sen. [Bob] Corker’s open seat has drawn a lot of interest from across the country, and it was a confidence booster,” said former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat running to replace the term-limited Haslam in a state that has alternated between Democratic and Republican governors without fail since Republican Winfield Dunn replaced Democrat Buford Ellington in 1971.

“There is a feeling out there that people are looking for a change, that people are interested in pragmatism, common sense, [and] it makes the Democratic Party seem very viable, and very much kind of a centrist party.”

Democrats’ ebullience could be tempered by a series of potentially messy primary contests that could mar the party’s prospects in battlegrounds in at least a half-dozen states. Between the Republicans’ strong fundraising and the history of states like Iowa — which has had just two Democratic governors in the last half-century — there’s still some hope on the right.

“At the end of the day I think it comes down to the best candidate usually wins,” Haslam insisted.

Yet Republicans must reckon with their own share of uncomfortable primaries, as well as a pair of contests — in Michigan and Florida — where Trump put his finger on the scale with unexpected Twitter endorsements (for Attorney General Bill Schuette in Michigan and Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida).

…. Trump’s presence looms large. Republican campaign consultants have been working with candidates to find ways to avoid the awkward tip-toeing around Trump that many believe doomed Virginia Republican candidate Ed Gillespie. Those consultants recently circulated strategy memos explicitly warning that 2018 risks turning into an amplified version of 2006 — Democrats’ last big midterm victory year — according to copies seen by POLITICO.

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