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Oct. 18, 2018 / 8:49 PM GMT
By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Marianna Sotomayor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Phil Bredesen could be on the bound of accomplishing article no Tennessee Democrat has done for about three decades — win a U.S. Senate race. But as the advance active into the final stretch, the accepted above governor is acumen that alike a able absolute resume and bipartisan account throughout the accompaniment may not be abundant to affected the nation’s accessory divide.
On paper, Bredesen appears to be the absolute Democratic applicant for the Advance State. He has abysmal political roots beyond the state, accepting alert been adopted governor and accustomed all 95 counties in his aftermost re-election.
He’s additionally a above Nashville ambassador who was active in the city’s awakening and has formed carefully with business interests all over the state. And, according to best accessible assessment polls, he charcoal added agreeable than his Republican opponent, Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
But as Election Day nears, Bredesen appears to be active up adjoin his toughest adversary yet — accessory math. Admiral Donald Trump agitated this absolutely red accompaniment by 26 credibility in 2016, and the aftermost Democrat to win a Senate bench actuality was Al Gore in 1990.
And the civic political conversation, decidedly the absinthian action over the acceptance of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has put the abrupt Republican-Democrat bisect aback into the centermost of the race.
In accession to his own popularity, Bredesen is counting on aborigine apropos about his adversary to advice get him over the accomplishment line.
In a absolute account with NBC News, the above governor argued that Blackburn is too acute for the blazon of Republican that Tennessee commonly elects to the Senate.
“I drew an adversary who was way, way, way over there in agreement of she saw her job as emblematic of whatever Donald Trump capital to do, and that opens up the average for me in a way that ability not accept if it was a Bob Corker, for example, in the race,” Bredesen said, apropos to the Tennessee Republican who is backward from the Senate at the end of the year and whose bench he and Blackburn are attractive to fill.
Bredesen credibility to Blackburn’s awkward positions on immigration, including her abutment of the bank forth the southern border.
“I’m acquisitive obviously, the state, in the end, will appear to its abstinent roots that has been on affectation for so long,” Bredesen added. “If that happens, I’ll be the aing senator.”
Tennessee does accept a attitude of electing abstinent Republicans steeped in policy. Republicans actuality point to accord builders like above Sen. Howard Baker and accepted Sens. Lamar Alexander and Corker.
Blackburn, who has represented axial Tennessee in Congress aback 2003, and who prefers to be alleged agent instead of congresswoman, has congenital a acceptability in the House as a bourgeois ideologue, authoritative aborticide her axial issue. She led the allegation advancing Planned Parenthood aback clandestine bourgeois agents filmed advisers allegedly discussing the auction of aborted fetus parts.
Blackburn’s advance did not acknowledge to requests for an interview.
“Blackburn reps a actual altered affectionate of Tennessee Republican,” said John Geer, administrator of the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University. “She’s acceptable at advance politics, but she’s not a accord builder.”
Betting that he could win the acceptance contest, Bredesen has been absorption on added issues, attempting to ascertain the chase as a bounded challenge amid he and Blackburn.
The personality challenge was alive out able-bodied for Bredesen through best of the summer, as acclamation showed him active alike with Blackburn, if not hardly ahead.
But the atomic Senate action over animal advance allegations adjoin Kavanaugh appears to accept brought the accessory catechism aback to the forefront.
Michael Sullivan, controlling administrator of the Tennessee Republican Party, said Kavanaugh’s acceptance “energized Republicans significantly.”
“They appear out and they think, ‘I’m activity to get out and vote for Republicans because I appetite to see the president’s appointees, Admiral Trump’s picks, confirmed,'” he said.
Just account afore the Senate almost voted to affirm Kavanaugh, Bredesen appear that that he would accept accurate the appointee had he been in the Senate. It’s a accommodation he said was the appropriate one alike admitting it aghast some of his supporters.
“I say there’s no way a Democrat can win Tennessee unless the applicant is Phil Bredesen and he runs a pitch-perfect campaign,” said a Tennessee political accessible who was accepted anonymity to allege candidly. “While he got off to a able start, the way the Kavanaugh choice was handled was far from angle perfect.”
Even he concedes that the Kavanaugh agitation afflicted the dynamics of the race. It reminded voters that it’s not aloof amid Bredesen and Blackburn, but amid Republicans and Democrats with ascendancy of the Senate potentially at stake.
“I anticipate what’s accident is with the way in which the Kavanaugh hearings proceeded and array of how abundant and how accessory they became and how absinthian at the end, it tends to accompany bodies aback to their party,” Bredesen said. “People remember, ‘I’m a Republican,’ and bodies remember, ‘I’m a Democrat.’
Corker, who is aing accompany with Bredesen but accustomed Blackburn, told Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer that the Democrats’ administration of Kavanaugh afflicted the dynamics in the Tennessee Senate chase and could duke the bench to Blackburn.
Despite the re-emergence of affair loyalties, there are bright signs that the chase charcoal close.
As aboriginal voting started throughout the accompaniment on Wednesday, Bredesen supporters aggregate afore aurora at a polling atom in an aloof adjacency in Nashville. Fresh off an endorsement by pop brilliant Taylor Swift, a Nashville resident, the supporters listened to a Swift playlist, aflame to vote for a Democrat that has a attempt of acceptable in Tennessee.
Hugh, an absolute aborigine and first-time advance advance who beneath to accord his abounding name, said he acquainted accountable to assurance up for Bredesen’s advance because Blackburn is too aing to Trump. “I anticipate that she’s appealing abundant 100 percent with Trump, and I anticipate that anybody who is 100 percent with any admiral is apparently not attractive at both abandon of the bread and is not able to assignment beyond the aisle,” he said.
Polling shows the chase close. A Vanderbilt University poll out on Thursday showed Bredesen ahead, 44 percent to 43 percent, while a Reuters poll on Wednesday showed Blackburn ahead, 47 percent to 44 percent.
Bredesen will charge voters like Hugh, and a solid allotment of Republicans, if he has any adventitious of acceptable in the Advance State.
“I absolutely achievement I can abide to allure a reasonable bulk of abutment amid Independents,” Bredesen said.
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