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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 TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 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 GoreParis Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing Al Gore: 'If I were still in the Senate, I would vote to convict' Trump Four points for Biden to make in his inaugural address 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."