Marquita Bradshaw beats establishment-backed Mackler in Tennessee Democratic Senate primary

Activist Marquita Bradshaw scored a surprise victory in the Democratic Senate primary in Tennessee on Thursday, dispensing with Senate Democratic leaders’ preferred candidate, James Mackler, in a five-way nominating contest.

With 58 percent of precincts reporting, Bradshaw was declared the winner with 35.5 percent of the vote. 

Heading into the primary, Bradshaw faced what appeared to be insurmountable odds. Mackler, an Army veteran and attorney, held the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a massive cash advantage over all of his opponents.

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Bradshaw, by comparison, raised only $8,420 in the first quarter of the year and doesn’t appear to have even filed a second-quarter fundraising report with the Federal Election Commission. 

But as primary results came in on Thursday, her advantage in the race became clear. Bradshaw, who is Black, dominated in Western Tennessee, including in Shelby County where Memphis is located. 

Still, Bradshaw is expected to face an uphill battle in the general election. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE carried Tennessee in 2016 by 26 points and is favored to win there once again this year. The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Tennessee was former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreFox's Napolitano: 2000 election will look like 'child's play' compared to 2020 legal battles Who calls an election? Why we need patience and nonpartisanship this time Universal mail-in voting jeopardizes the equal right to vote, but absentee voting protects it MORE in 1990. Republicans have held both seats since 1994.

Bradshaw will face GOP candidate Bill Hagerty in the general election come November. Hagerty has received backing from the president, serving as ambassador to Japan from 2017 until last year. 

The Cook Political Report currently rates the race to replace Alexander as “solid Republican."