Yesterday, Franklin Mayor Ken Moore (R) announced that he will not enter the open 7th Congressional District race, still leaving state Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) as the only announced candidate. Earlier in the year, President Trump nominated Sen. Green as Secretary of the Army, but the latter man withdrew when problems arose surrounding his confirmation. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) running for Senate leaves this western state Republican congressional district to be decided in the August Republican primary. A long time exists between now and the candidate filing deadline (will be set for a date in April), but Sen. Green obviously appears to be the man to beat in the early going.
Fresh from completing his “listening tour” of the Volunteer State, former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) officially announced that the will join the open seat Republican primary campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R). Mr. Fincher becomes the second major Republican candidate to enter the open contest, following 7th District US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) who immediately announced upon Sen. Corker making public his decision not to seek a third term.
Ms. Blackburn has moved quickly to lock up some key conservative support, such as the Club for Growth, while Fincher has taken hits for his family’s agri-business enterprise accepting government subsidies and voting in favor of funding the Export-Import Bank. Thus, the race is already adopting early campaign contrast points. The third GOP candidate is Andy Ogles, the former Tennessee director for Americans for Prosperity. He had originally announced a primary challenge against Sen. Corker, but remains in the race even though the incumbent will retire.
The Tennessee primary isn’t held until early August and, with a candidate filing deadline to be scheduled sometime in April, much time remains for this candidate field of contenders to solidify.
On the other side of the political ledger, Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen has backed away from earlier comments about not running for the seat, and now says he will decide whether to become a candidate in the next few weeks.
After originally saying he would not run for the Senate, Tennessee former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is now admitting that he is re-thinking his position and will consider forming a new statewide campaign. Democrats need him in the race to make this open seat competitive, since they have so few Republican targets in 2018. Even if Mr. Bredesen becomes a candidate, the GOP will be favored. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) appears to be the early leading candidate, but former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) appears poised to also enter the race. Sen. Bob Corker (R) is retiring upon completion of his second term.
US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), armed with over $3 million in her campaign account and a fresh endorsement from the Club for Growth, announced yesterday that she will enter the open US Senate campaign. The move was expected. Simultaneously, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) publicly stated that he will not become a Senate candidate.
We can expect a crowded Senate Republican primary, with Ms. Blackburn being one of the top contenders. Former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) is a possible candidate. Andy Ogles, the Tennessee director for Americans for Prosperity who had launched a primary against Sen. Bob Corker before the incumbent announced his retirement, remains active. Former state Rep. Joe Carr, who held Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) to a nine point primary win in 2014, but then went onto suffer a crushing defeat in a congressional match-up with Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin), is another potential candidate.
Yesterday a fourth potential Democratic candidate removed himself from consideration. Wealthy businessman and former Nashville mayoral candidate said he will not run for the Senate. Earlier, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry all declined to enter the open seat statewide campaign.
On the heels of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) announcing her Senate campaign, state Sen. Mark Green (R-Ripley) declared his candidacy for her open 7th Congressional District. Mr. Green was nominated as President Trump’s Secretary of the Army, but withdrew when his confirmation appeared problematic. The 7th District, a western Tennessee seat that sits between Nashville and Memphis, is solidly Republican (Trump: 67-28%; Romney: 66-33%). Therefore, the eventual GOP nominee is a virtual sure bet to capture the seat next November.
Things are beginning to move quickly in the race to replace retiring Volunteer State Sen. Bob Corker (R). While many Republicans and a few Democrats are making some preliminary moves regarding the new open political contest, three prominent figures have now removed themselves from consideration. In a blow to the Democrats, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, US Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville), and current Nashville Mayor Megan Barry all say they will not enter the open Senate race. Conversely, for Republicans, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is now publicly saying that he is considering becoming a Senate candidate.
Now that Sen. Bob Corker (R) has announced he won’t seek re-election, renewed speculation is beginning to surface that he is considering entering the open Governor’s race. When asked, the Senator indicated that it “…would have been good to think about that a year ago,” in reference to forming a gubernatorial campaign, but also did not fully close the door on running. With Gov. Bill Haslam (R) ineligible to seek a third term, the state’s top political position will be open in 2018.
Among the top Republicans already in the Governor’s race are House Budget Committee chair Diane Black (R-Gallatin), former state Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Wilson County), ex-state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, and state House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville). For the Democrats, former Nashville Mayor Karl Deen and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) are the announced candidates.
A day after Sen. Bob Corker (R) announced that he would not seek a third term, potential Republican candidates are beginning to make early moves about seeking the party nomination. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) appears days away from getting into the race. And, with more than $3 million in her campaign account, she has the ability to hit the ground running. Former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) is also saying that he will make a decision quickly, and seems to be leaning toward becoming a candidate. He left Congress with over $2 million in his campaign account.
Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R), who previously challenged Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 Republican primary, a race where the former drew 41% of the vote against the veteran incumbent, is also inching toward the race and says he will soon make an announcement. Now speculation begins to swirl around term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam who now may be contemplating hopping into the Senate race. Within a day, this open seat race is perhaps becoming the most interesting statewide campaign in the country.
Tennessee’s Bob Corker (R) yesterday became the first in-cycle Senator to announce that he will not seek re-election next year. Earlier, the head of Tennessee’s Americans for Prosperity chapter, Andy Ogles, had announced a primary challenge, and several million had already been pledged in hopes of denying Mr. Corker re-nomination. But, there is little evidence to suggest that a challenge is the fundamental reason for the Senator’s retirement decision.
Now as an open seat, observers look to possible Corker successors. A movement is forming to encourage former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) to become a Senate candidate. The Congressman retired before the 2016 election because of a family illness, a situation that has improved. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) already confirms that she is considering entering the newly open statewide campaign. The new development also may encourage Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen, the Democrats’ top recruitment prospect, to declare his candidacy. Republicans are favored to hold, but this campaign has suddenly become more interesting.
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