How to Win Tennessee

By Steve Cavendish (Politico) –

You know who matters in the 2018 midterms? Donald Trump! But not just Donald Trump. Control of the Senate rests in part on what voters think of the president of the United States, but it will also be determined by local disputes and regional quirks—demographics and issues, but also myth-making and self-conception. In this series of articles—this is the sixth—Politico Magazine asked an expert on a state with a crucial statewide race to explain what matters there that doesn’t matter anywhere else.

For Tennessee residents, this autumn has offered a taste of what it must be like to live in Ohio or Florida. As the CBS affiliate in Nashville cut to local commercials during a Sunday afternoon NFL game, an onslaught of political ads began for the potential replacements for Senator Bob Corker: Marsha Blackburn is owned by the pharmaceutical industry! Phil Bredesen is owned by the solar industry! Marsha Blackburn is living the high life in D.C.! Phil Bredesen is a danger to President Trump’s agenda! For three solid minutes, the two candidates—and their well-funded proxies—traded blows. An independent expenditure spot closed with an all-caps message as subtle as a punch: “REJECT BREDESEN.”

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