Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) will reportedly run for his state’s open Senate race, a move that would give Democrats a top pick in a tough race.
The Nashville Post reported
on Wednesday afternoon that Bredesen has started calling donors to tell them he will enter the race to replace Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who will not seek reelection in 2018.
Bredesen, the last Democratic governor of the state, won reelection by a large margin in 2006 but left office because of term limits in 2010. He hasn’t held elected office since, and would turn 75 years old a few weeks after the 2018 election. But many Democrats believe his record of success running in a red state could make the seat competitive.
Bredesen has publicly toyed with a bid for the past two months, telling The Associated Press
in October that he enjoys “solving problems, and in Washington right now, there is plenty of material.”
Republicans instantly greeted Bredesen’s reported entry in the race with a warning shot.
“After escaping the burden of Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency, the last thing Tennesseans want is one of Obama’s biggest supporters, Phil Bredesen, representing them in Washington,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Michael McAdams said in a statement.
“Bredesen’s opposition to the 2nd Amendment, weak stance on illegal immigration, and embrace of Barack Obama’s out-of-touch policies puts him at odds with Tennessee values, and will doom his longshot Senate campaign,” he said
The move would set up a primary between Bredesen and Nashville attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler, who jumped in to challenge Corker before the senator announced he’d be stepping down. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke had also been considering a bid, but it’s unclear whether Bredesen’s decision will change his calculus.
Any Democratic candidate would have a tough hill to climb in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1990. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) are the top two candidates on the GOP side.
Corker announced in September that he wouldn’t run for reelection, a decision he made after clashing repeatedly with President Trump.