With Republican control of the U.S. Senate at stake, a gun group is spending big in the race between former Gov. Phil Bredesen and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
Bredesen, a Democrat who headed Tennessee as governor from 2003 to 2011, aims to head to Washington to fill the Senate seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. First elected in 2006, Corker announced last year that he would not seek re-election leaving Blackburn, the GOP Deputy Whip in the House with 15 years in Congress representing Tennessee’s 7th district, as the Republican contender to the seat.
Socking Bredesen with an anti-gun “D” grade, the National Rifle Association last week announced a seven-figure campaign in support of Blackburn, calling her the choice for concerned gun owners in Tennessee. The ad says plainly that, “If Phil Bredesen wins, Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein will destroy our right to self-defense.”
“The stakes for this election are clear. Our basic right to keep a firearm in the home for self-defense hangs in the balance,” said Chris Cox, head of the NRA’s lobbying arm.
Blackburn, who in the House is a co-sponsor of the Hearing Protection Act to partially deregulate suppressors as well as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to safeguard carry rights nationwide, vows to confirm “President Trump’s strict constitutionalist nominees” to the Supreme Court if sent to the Senate. Notably, Corker voted for both Judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In her race, she has the endorsement of Trump as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In her debate with Bredesen, she said that embracing gun control would not make communities safer.
Bredesen has the support of Pennsylvania-born pop star Taylor Swift and Democratic super PAC Majority Forward, the latter of which has chipped in $5 million to help get him elected. Billionaire gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg is holding a fundraiser for Bredesen in New York this week.
Although not on the list of candidates supported by Everytown or Giffords, while on the campaign trail the Democrat has backed universal background checks as well as bans on bump stocks. As governor in 2009, he vetoed a gun rights expansion to permit the possession of firearms in Tennessee restaurants and bars after prefacing his veto message with support for the Second Amendment.
In a controversial ad last month, the former governor says he is a gun owner and while in office had an “A” rating from the NRA. While the latter is true, the gun group stressed the grade was in decades past and called on Bredesen to pull the ad, saying “It’s not 2002, you’re not governor and you’re not A-rated by the NRA. It’s 2018, you have earned a D rating for turning your back on self-defense and supporting the Hillary/Schumer/Bloomberg gun control agenda.”
Poll aggregators have the race as a toss-up, with a slight lead by Blackburn.