Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) raised $550,000 more than her nearest Republican primary opponent, former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-08), in the fourth quarter of 2017, The Hill reported on Thursday:
Blackburn’s campaign announced that it raised $2 million in the fourth fundraising quarter of last year, which covers fundraising between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. She ended December with $4.6 million cash on hand. She launched her bid on Oct. 5.
Meanwhile, former Rep. Stephen Fincher’s campaign announced that he brought in $1.45 million in the first two months of his run and ended December with $3.7 million in the bank, according to The Tennessean. He announced his bid on Oct. 22.
A poll conducted by The Tennessee Star in December of likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee shows Blackburn with a commanding 58 percent to 11 percent lead over Fincher:
The poll results have a small silver lining for Fincher. Among those who have an opinion about him, he has a 2 to 1 favorability rating. But a massive 65 percent of likely Republican primary voters do not know who he is. This gives Fincher an opportunity to positively define himself to those who do not know who he is, with sufficient financial resources.
But Fincher has a lot of catching up to do.
Blackburn has an even higher favoribility rating: 61 percent of Tennessee Republicans have a favorable opinion of her while only 13 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
The poll of 1,028 Tennessee Republican likely primary voters was conducted between December 12 and December 18 for The Tennessee Star by Triton Research using IVR technology (automated phone response), and has a 3.1 percent margin of error.
The respondents were balanced between the three regions of Tennessee according to recent Republican primary voting behavior: 34 percent from East Tennessee, 39 percent from Middle Tennessee, and 27 percent from West Tennessee.
Blackburn leads Fincher in all three regions: by 52 percent to 7 percent in East Tennessee, by 65 percent to 5 percent in Middle Tennessee, and by 56 percent to 24 percent in West Tennessee.
On the Democratic side, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a wealthy entrepreneur who made his fortune in health care but is now involved as an investor in several businesses, including a solar energy company, is the sole contender, after Iraq war veteran James Mackler withdrew to set up a PAC to attack Blackburn.
Buoyed by Doug Jones’ victory over Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama special election in December, Democrats believe they may have a chance at winning the Senate seat in Tennessee, currently held by retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
“U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn would beat former Gov. Phil Bredesen in a head-to-head race for the U.S. Senate, according to new poll commissioned by a political action committee aligned with President Donald Trump,” the Tennessean reported on December 19, a week after Bredesen announced:
The survey found that among general election voters, Blackburn, R-Brentwood, held a nearly double-digit advantage over Bredesen.
When asked whom they would vote for if the general election were held the day they were polled, 43 percent of respondents said Blackburn, while 34 percent said the former Nashville Democratic mayor. Twenty-three percent of respondents were undecided.
The poll, commissioned by the Committee to Defend the President, which plans to spend heavily to back Blackburn, surveyed 500 likely general election voters over a recent three-day period.
That 9 point margin is much closer than any other Democratic candidate has come in a U.S. Senate race in more than a decade, and the Cook Political Report currently rates the race as a “Toss Up.”
But, as The Tennessee Star reported, the 74-year-old Bredesen has not been in a contested race since he won the race for his first term as governor in 2002, long before Facebook, Twitter, and the Age of Trump, and his likely Republican opponent, Blackburn has already gone on the offensive against him:
Minutes after reports surfaced on Wednesday that former Gov. Phil Bredesen will soon announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07), the front runner for the GOP nomination, blasted the 74-year-old Bredesen as a supporter of “President Obama’s liberal policies” who is “out-of-touch with Tennessee values.”
“Tennessee families want change and that is not what 74-year-old Democrat politician Phil Bredesen will bring to the United States Senate. Bredesen’s views are out-of-touch with Tennessee values, he supported President Obama’s liberal policies, is against second amendment rights and even authored a plan to give illegal immigrants driving certificates. Marsha is the only true conservative in this race who will ensure liberal Bredesen doesn’t block President Trump’s agenda in Washington.” Blackburn’s spokesperson said in a statement release by the campaign.
Conservative commentator Steve Gill added his perspective.
“Tennesseans in 92 of our 95 counties overwhelmingly rejected Hillary Clinton as President; but Phil Bredesen and his wife Andrea Conte voted for her. Federal Election Commission records show they also donated more than $69,000 to Hillary’s election through her campaign, SuperPAC and the Democratic National Committee operation on her behalf, not to mention thousands more to the most extremist liberal candidates in the country,” Gill said.
President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Tennessee by a 26 point margin, 61 percent to 35 percent.
In his announcement, Bredesen avoided attacking Trump directly, saying instead “We all know Washington is broken. But while politicians are up there playing partisan games and working on their re-election, out here in America, back here in Tennessee, we have some real problems.”
Bredesen has said it will take $50 million to win the race, and also said that he will not be self-funding.
Given the flow of money into Democrat Doug Jones Senate race in Alabama from liberal enclaves of New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, D.C., a similar flow into Bredesen’s campaign for the Tennessee U.S. Senate seat is likely.