WASHINGTON – Tennessee primary voters today will cast ballots to determine which two candidates go head-to head in November’s contest to replace retiring GOP Senator Bob Corker.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) and former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) are expected to handily win their respective primaries, according to recent polls.
Blackburn is a staunch conservative who enjoys the support of President Donald Trump. She has served in Congress in 2003.
Bredesen is a moderate Democrat who served as mayor of Nashville for nine years before making the climb to the governor’s mansion.
Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a frequent Trump critic. He has angered GOP leaders by giving tacit support to Blackburn and offering praise for Bredesen.
“He (Bredesen) was a very good mayor, a very good governor, a very good business person,” Corker told reporters at an April Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C.
A recent poll shows Bredesen leading Blackburn by five points in a hypothetical matchup.
That the race is so close 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.
A Democrat win could jeopardize Republican control of the Senate.
The GOP occupies 51 seats. Democrats occupy 49 seats. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is battling brain cancer and has been absent since December.
Converesely, this year’s political landscape favors Republicans.
The GOP is defending nine seats. Democrats are defending 25 seats.