WASHINGTON – Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) is gearing up for what could become one of the most watched Senate races this year.
“This is not a race about the past. This is a race about the future,” Blackburn told supporters in Nashville following her primary victory on Thursday evening. “And it is going to be centered on what Tennesseans want, who they want to represent them in the U.S. Senate, the type of representation that they want in the U.S. Senate.”
Blackburn, who has served in Congress in 2003, defeated Rutherford County professional commercial driver Andrew Pettigrew with nearly 85 percent of the vote, according to the Associated Press. She will face former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the general election.
Blackburn is a staunch conservative who enjoys strong support from the White House.
Bredesen is a moderate Democrat who served as mayor of Nashville for nine years before making the climb to the governor’s mansion.
The winner will succeed retiring GOP Senator Bob Corker.
Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a frequent Trump critic. He has angered Republican leaders by giving tacit support to Blackburn and offering praise for Bredesen.
A recent poll showed Bredesen with a narrow lead over Blackburn in a hypothetical matchup.
That the race is competitive is not a good sign for Republicans.
Tennessee is one of the most reliably red states in the U.S. Trump won the Volunteer State by 26 points in 2016.
Former Vice President Al Gore was the last Democrat to represent Tennessee in the Senate.
A Democrat win could jeopardize the GOP’s razor-thin majority in the Senate.
Conversely, this year’s political landscape favors Republicans.
The GOP is defending nine seats. Democrats are defending 25 seats.
The results of Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary surprised many pundits.
Rep. Diane Black, who enjoyed the support of Vice President Mike Pence, not only lost, but came in third place.
Black has served in Congress since 2011. She is chair of the House Budget Committee.
Fernvale cattle farmer Bill Lee won the contest with 36.6 percent of the vote, according to the AP.
Lee will face former Nashville mayor Karl Dean (D) in the general election.