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Democratic candidate for Tennessee’s open U.S. Senate seat makes announcement during debate with Republican rival
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
NASHVILLE (CFP) — Former Governor Phil Bredesen has announced that if elected to Tennessee’s open U.S. Senate seat, he will not support Chuck Schumer of New York to continue as his party’s Senate leader.
Bredesen, locked in a close race with Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, told the audience at a September 25 debate that he thinks Congress needs “new leadership.”
“I think a lot of the problem in Washington is with the leadership that we have there now. Whether it be (House Speaker Paul) Ryan or (House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi or (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell or Schumer, they’re not doing the job,” Bredensen said.
Bredensen took specific issue with charges by Blackburn and other Republicans claiming that he would be a rubber stamp for the current Senate Democratic leader.
“You’ve heard a lot recently of this campaign about me, about these crazy ideas about if somehow I’m elected and go to Washington, suddenly I’m going to turn my back on a whole lifetime of thinking for myself and being independent and suddenly become some kind of a political lackey,” Bredesen said. “That’s not going to happen.”
But Blackburn continued to press the line of attack, saying Bredensen’s campaign had been “bought and paid for” by Schumer.
“We all know that Phil had a choice. He could have run as a Republican or independent,” she said. “He’s running as a Democrat, so he will be with Chuck Schumer if he were to go to Washington.”
Bredesen, a former two-term governor, is trying to become the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in the Volunteer State since 1990. The four most recent public polls have shown the race within the margin of error, indicating the closeness of the race.
The seat is open due to the retirement of Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker.
Bredesen’s stance on Schumer’s tenure is unlikely to threaten the New Yorker’s grip on the Democratic leadership, which requires support from a majority of the Democratic caucus in a non-public vote. Only one other Democratic Senate candidate, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, has come out against Schumer.
Democrats need to make a net gain of two seats in the Senate to take control, which would make Schumer majority leader. Four GOP-held seats being targeted include Tennessee, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
Watch the full Bredesen-Blackburn debate: