Special election provides fodder for statewide races

The outcome of Tuesday’s special state Senate election in the 14th District won’t make much difference in the how the upper chamber of the General Assembly is operated. The GOP supermajority will be firmly in place regardless. But both parties are hoping that the race will hurt opposing candidates in the U.S. Senate and governor’s races.

The anti-Marsha Blackburn group Smoky Mountain Values is hitting the Republican U.S. Senate candidate for appearing at a rally to support the GOP nominee in the special election, Shane Reeves, with U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the Jasper physician who once urged a mistress to get an abortion and who also dry-fired a gun outside his former wife’s bedroom.

Meanwhile, Republican Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign on Monday sent out a release demanding to know where Democrat Karl Dean stands on his party’s “radical liberal” candidate in the special election, Gayle Jordan.

It seems unlikely that either Dean or Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen would be drawn into talking about the race before Tuesday’s election. After that, they can just defer to the will of the voters — win or lose. For Blackburn, the image of her posing with DesJarlais may be harder to shake. He may have become a safe incumbent in his district, but he has yet to fully rehabilitate his image among Republicans around the state.

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