NPR

In Tennessee Senate Race, Bredesen Tries To Prove He Can Overcome Political Tribalism

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen won re-election in a landslide in 2006. But Tennessee has shifted right since then. He's trying to convince voters to consider a candidate over party this year.
Democratic candidate for Senate and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen attends a groundbreaking event for a new Tyson Foods chicken processing plant in May in Humboldt, Tenn. Source: Drew Angerer

In the Trump era, the phrase "all politics is local" may feel like an anachronism. But in Tennessee, Phil Bredesen is trying to prove that national partisan divides can be overcome in the most surprising Senate battleground of 2018.

The former Democratic governor's strategy against GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker has been focused on listening sessions with small groups and trying to go beyond just national talking points. In fact, at a health care roundtable last month with about a dozen women in Covington, Tenn., the words "Republican," "Democrat" or "Trump" didn't come up once.

"Really, we'd like to explore what [health care] means to you — what particular problems you might be seeing to help inform me about how to think about

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