TENNESSEE
     Nov. 6, 2018 Senate

Gov.
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Sen.1
2018
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+Marsha Blackburn (R)
1,227,483
54.71%
Phil Bredesen (D)
985,450
43.92%
Trudy Austin 9,455
0.42%
Dean Hill 8,717 0.39%
Kris Todd
5,084
0.23%
John Carico
3,398
0.15%
Breton Phillips
2,226
0.10%
Kevin McCants
1,927
0.09%

2,243,740

Plurality: 242,033 votes (10.79 percentage points).
 TN Secretary of State



Notes:
The last time a Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate was 1990 when Al Gore handily won a second term.  While the 2018 campaign was very closely fought, the result was a decisive win for the Republican candidate. 

On Sept. 26, 2017 Sen. Bob Corker (R) announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. 
Corker had been a target of Steve Bannon for not being sufficiently supportive of President Trump. 

The general election race was set early on: U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R), 66, and former Gov. Phil Bredensen (D), 74, faced little opposition in the Aug. 2 primaries.  Blackburn was first elected to Congress in 2002 representing the 7th CD (middle Tennessee); previously she served six years in the state Senate.  She has run a business, Marketing Strategies, since 1978.  Also, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1992.  Bredesen was a popular former governor who had the ability to appeal to Main Street Republicans; before serving two terms as governor (elected in 2002 and 2006) he served two terms as Mayor of Nashville (elected in 1991 and 1995); he also ran unsuccessfully for Mayor in 1987, and for Congress.  Six other candidates were on the November ballot.

The Blackburn campaign and its allies made a major effort to tie Bredesen to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and national Democrats.  A key issue was support for the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  Bredesen put off taking a position until finally issuing a statement in support of confirmation on Oct. 5, the very day of a key Senate vote.  In his statement he said "a Senator's responsibility to 'advise and consent' is not a license to indulge in partisanship, but should focus on the qualifications of the nominee, their ethics and their temperament."  While lauding Dr. Ford as "a heroine" he said he was "still a 'yes.'"  The position
angered volunteers, taking some of the air out of his campaign.

Pop star Taylor Swift's surprise critique of Blackburn and endorsement of Bredesen via Instagram on Oct. 7 generated a lot of news.  Meanwhile Trump supported Blackburn and held three rallies in Tennessee: on May 20 (Nashville), Oct. 1 (Johnson City) and Nov. 4 (Chattanooga) (+).  Corker's support for Blackburn appeared tepid, however. 

Blackburn and Bredesen engaged in two debates: on Sept. 25 at Cumberland University in Lebanon (+) and on Oct. 10 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (+).

According to Open Secrets, a total of $88.5 million was spent on this race, $35.0 million by the campaigns and $53.5 million by outside groups (+).

Blackburn won by almost 11 percentage points, carrying 92 of 95 counties.  Democrats have not had much success with retro/retread candidates in recent elections;
in 2016, Evan Bayh and Ted Strickland both lost.

Campaign Managers:
Marsha Blackburn:  Kevin Golden
and...
Ward Baker, chief strategist
Founder and president of Baker Group Strategies.  Executive director (2016 cycle) and political director (2014 cycle) at the NRSC.  Senior advisor/political and field liaison between the Romney campaign and the RNC in 2012.  Partner at Majority Strategies, a direct mail firm in Nashville, TN.  Senior political advisor to Rick Scott's 2010 campaign for governor of Florida.  National political director at the Republican State Leadership Committee.  Campaign director for the Virginia House Republican Caucus in 2005.  72-Hour director for the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida.  Political director and 72-Hour director for Haley Barbour’s successful 2003 gubernatorial campaign in Mississippi.  Campaign manager for Blackburn for Congress (TN-07) in 2002.  Served in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Tennessee native.

Phil Bredesen:  Bob Corney
(Dec. 2017)  Senior vice president of Calvert Street Group, July-Nov. 2017.  Consultant, Mar.-June 2017.  Senior vice president at VOX Global, Jan. 2008-Mar. 2017.  Communications director in the Office of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Feb. 2004-Jan. 2008.  President of Infuturum Communications, Jan. 1999-Feb. 2004.  Deputy director of advance  in the Office of Vice President Al Gore, Jan. 1993-Jan. 1996.  Studied political science at the Washington University in St. Louis.

 





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