Politico: Poll has Bredesen leading Blackburn 47-45

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood. (Photo credit: Blackburn for Senate campaign)

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood. (Photo credit: Blackburn for Senate campaign)

Politico reports that a late January poll had Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen leading Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn 47% to 45% in a head-to-head matchup in the Tennessee Senate race.

The poll conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies indicates that a generic Republican would be preferred over a Democrat, and that President Donald Trump retains a strong approval rating. The takeaway, Politico says, is that “Blackburn is in for a tough race” even in a heavily Republican state like Tennessee.

The Politico story delves into the chatter about incumbent Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga) possibly re-thinking his decision against seeking a third term in the Senate. According to to the news site, a “coterie of Republicans” is pushing Corker to run again.

Responded Blackburn spokeswoman Andrea Bozek: “It’s well past time for the good old boys’ club in Washington, D.C., to quit thinking they know who the best candidate and conservative leader is for Tennessee families.”

The article quotes Victor Ashe, the former Knoxville mayor and onetime ambassador to Poland, as saying that he prefers former U.S. Rep Stephen Fincher in the GOP primary, but that he’s “not sure that he’s a candidate, based on his inactivity.” Presented with the choice between Blackburn and Bredesen, Ashe said he could “go either way.”

“Anyone seriously sizing it up would have to say Mrs. Blackburn would be somewhat ahead of Bredesen but not a lot,” Ashe told Politico. “Depending on how the national situation goes, it could be extremely competitive. It would be hard to attack [Bredesen’s] record as governor because so many Republicans like him.”

Amusingly, Politico quotes former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist as coming out firmly against a Blackburn bid: “You can say on the record I’m not supporting her.” Blackburn was a major opponent of Sundquist’s state income tax proposal when he was governor, and was a major player in rallying opponents over talk radio to protest against the measure at the state Capitol. Her anti-income tax activism was a major factor in her election to Congress in 2002.

One Corker colleague who would welcome him changing his mind and running again is Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.

“That would be terrific,” he told Politico. “We need to hold that seat. I don’t have any doubt” that Corker would win.

Corker’s office has downplayed the talk about him changing his mind — for now.

Note: This post has been updated to remove a reference to the poll being “overweighted” with Republicans. Politico clarified its original report to indicate that that “the sample includes more Republicans than Democrats due to Tennessee’s GOP-leaning electorate.”

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