US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) released the results of her new OnMessage gubernatorial survey (5/14-17; 600 TN likely GOP primary voters) that post her to a sizable 41-28-9-8% advantage over former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd (R), State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), and businessman Bill Lee (R). The Tennessee primary is Thursday, August 2nd. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (4/17-19; 625 TN registered voters) tested the all-but-certain general election contest between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). Like other recent polls, the M-D numbers project the former two-term Governor to be holding a slight lead. According to the results, Mr. Bredesen has a 46-43% edge. All of the traditional coalition groups are lining up as expected for their respective candidates. Ms. Blackburn’s biggest problem is trailing among Independents, 49-35%.
Since it is now clear that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) will be their respective party nominees in the open Tennessee US Senate race, both are already raising copious amounts of money. According to their campaigns, Mr. Bredesen raised over $1.8 million during the quarter just ended, and Ms. Blackburn slightly more at approximately $2 million. Mr. Bredesen added to his campaign account with a $1.4 million self-contribution.
The Blackburn Campaign will report more than $6 million cash-on-hand. The Bredesen operation did not release their available resource number, but it appears the related figure will fall between $3.5 and $4 million. The Tennessee Senate campaign is shaping up to be long in duration, since both candidates are proceeding to the general election well in advance of the August 2nd Tennessee primary, and expensive. Rep. Blackburn is favored because of Tennessee’s strong Republican voting history since Mr. Bredesen was last on the ballot in 2006, but this contest promises to be very active with well-run efforts coming from both candidates.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has already unofficially clinched the Volunteer State Republican Senate nomination, according to a development announced yesterday.
The Tennessee Republican Party, as political parties have the right to do under state election law, disqualified self-funder Darrell Lynn for "failing to meet the bona fide standards” for Republican candidates as set in the party bylaws. Explaining the situation, Tennessee GOP chairman Scot Golden said that the party wants “…to ensure that the candidates seeking our nomination are active and invested in the Republican Party in Tennessee and today the State Executive Committee followed the process laid out in our bylaws to do just that." Along with Mr. Lynn, who was clearly the strongest of the possible Blackburn challengers, six other minor GOP Senate candidates were also disqualified. One gubernatorial candidate was also stricken from the official candidates’ list.
The action virtually guarantees that, since candidate filing has closed for the August 2nd primary, Ms. Blackburn will now be virtually unopposed for the party nomination. Since former Gov. Phil Bredesen is in similar position in the Democratic primary, the general election is already unofficially underway.
Filing closed in Tennessee on Friday, and it appears that we already have a new Congressman. State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will succeed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) in the safely Republican 7th Congressional District. With Blackburn vacating to run for the Senate, a Republican primary was expected to form in order for voters to choose her successor. When the dust cleared on Friday, however, only Sen. Green filed on the Republican side meaning that he will advance to, and win, an easy general election against a minor Democrat in a seat that won’t become a national target.
Sen. Green was nominated as President Trump’s Army Secretary but withdrew because he made some past disparaging comments and it quickly became obvious that he could not forge a confirmation coalition in the US Senate. Now it appears a US House seat will be his consolation prize.
Middle Tennessee State University released a credible statewide survey yesterday (3/22-29; 600 TN registered voters) that surprisingly stakes former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) to a ten point, 45-35%, lead over US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). It is a virtual certainty that each individual will win his and her respective party nomination, so it is not too early to begin testing the pair as if the August 2nd primary has already occurred.
Other polls have given Ms. Blackburn the early advantage largely because of the state’s strong Republican nature; a voting trend that has noticeably moved rightward since Mr. Bredesen was last on the statewide ballot in 2006. It is clear, however, that the Democratic leadership recruiting the former Governor and Nashville Mayor into the race has made a competitive general election campaign when it appeared earlier that none would exist.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in a series of polls for the Save the Children Action Network (3/7-14; 600 TN registered voters), surveyed the Volunteer State gubernatorial primaries. For the Republicans, US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) jumps out to the early lead, with 25% preference followed by Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, who posts 20% support. Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) follow with 7 and 6 percent, respectively.
On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean opens up with a large lead, registering 41% among those stating a preferred candidate. State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) had just 11% support. The Tennessee primaries are not until August 2nd, so much time remains for these nomination races to change.
With both Sen. Bob Corker (R) and former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) either declining to enter or withdrawing from the Senate race in the past few days, it appeared that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) was becoming positioned for a free ride in the open Republican primary. But, that situation has already changed. Wealthy businessman Darrell Lynn announced yesterday that he will become a GOP Senate candidate and commits to spending $5 million of his own money to win the party nomination. The eventual nominee faces former two-term Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the general election to replace the retiring Sen. Corker.
When Sen. Bob Corker (R) made no promised announcement at the end of last week about whether he would seek re-election after previously announcing his retirement, it became relatively clear that he had decided not to re-enter the 2018 campaign. Yesterday, Sen. Corker made the presumed decision official, and he will continue toward political retirement when his current terms ends. With former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) withdrawing earlier, US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), at least for the moment, is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Such is an unusual occurrence in an open seat race.
Candidate filing runs through April 5th, so others have time to jump into the race. With polls, however, showing Ms. Blackburn crushing even Sen. Corker in a Republican primary, it appears that the eight-term Congresswoman is fast becoming a consensus GOP candidate. This means she will soon begin active campaigning against the united Democrats’ candidate, former Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The weekend came and went without Sen. Bob Corker (R) making an announcement about whether he would seek re-election after previously announcing his retirement. Early last week, he said he would disclose his plans “in the next few days.” At a TN Republican Party event on Saturday, however, Sen. Corker indicated that “nothing has changed” with regard to him reversing political course. Therefore, at least for the present time, retirement remains in the Senator’s future. The Tennessee candidate filing deadline is April 5th for the August 2nd primary, so more than a month remains for him to make a final decision.
Irrespective of the Senator’s final decision, US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) is in the Senate race to stay. Former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) has withdrawn his candidacy.
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