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Tennessee Races

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Tennessee (Open Seat)

Outlook: Leans Republican

November 8, 2006 Update:

Election Results

As the Crystal Ball predicted, Republican Bob Corker defeated Democrat Harold Ford with 51% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Bob Corker (R) will defeat Harold Ford (D). The Corker-Ford grudge match continues to both entertain and confound us, but the presence of a gay marriage amendment on the ballot may be just enough to boost Corker’s fortunes in spite of national GOP missteps. Ford may have peaked in mid-October, only to see Republican voters come home to their candidate in the final weeks. The effect of the much-debated RNC ad was probably a draw, but Corker’s aggressiveness late in the campaign appears to be paying dividends.

September 21, 2006 Update:

A battle of moderates is indeed a rarity in the polarized, super-charged atmosphere of 2006, but that’s exactly what’s on the Volunteer State’s bill for November. The race between Democratic Congressman Harold Ford and former GOP Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker pits West Tennessee against East Tennessee, black against white, and D against R, but each man is a tad closer to the political center than most members of his party, which sets the race apart from the vast majority of other close contests.

Ordinarily, Tennessee would lean slightly to the GOP in a bout between an energetic young Democrat and an experienced business-oriented Republican, but Ford has succeeded in projecting a down-home image, Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen will win reelection in a walk, and the Crystal Ball bets President George W. Bush‘s approval numbers are well under 50 percent in this state he carried just two years ago. News that Corker was subpoenaed to testify in a Wal-Mart land acquisition case back in his home city of Chattanooga is an unwelcome distraction for the Republican’s campaign, and though we still give Corker the slightest of edges, this race has entered Toss-up territory.

August 4, 2006 Update:

Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker easily captured the GOP nomination for Senate in an August 3rd primary, with 48 percent to former Congressman Ed Bryant‘s 34 percent and ex-Congressman Van Hilleary‘s 17 percent. This big win gives Corker some momentum as he attempts to hold the seat of retiring Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist. However, Democrat Harold Ford should not be ruled out at the dawn of the general election campaign. The trends are Democratic in 2006–though the winds of change nationally may be a mere breeze in Red Tennessee. This match-up will need some time to mature before firm conclusions can be reached.

June 1, 2006 Update:

Bob Corker continues to lead many public and private polls for the GOP nomination, and if that is true Republicans may be able to hold on to this seat.

March 27, 2006 Update:

Nothing much has changed here, and it won’t until the Republicans make their choice.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) is running for President in 2008, and he is honoring his two-term Senate pledge made in 1994. To bid for the White House, it makes sense to have vacated the Senate. Only Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy have been elected President directly from the Senate. Most Americans associate the Senate with talk and the Presidency with action. So both parties are gearing up for an intense struggle.

The Democratic nominee for the seat will almost certainly be Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., even though he has competition from State Senator Rosalind Kurita. As an African-American Democrat, Ford will not be the favorite in the new, GOP-leaning Volunteer State, but he’s an impressive young man at age 35.

The Republicans may have a three-way primary contest among moderate Mayor Bob Corker of Chattanooga, former conservative Congressmen Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant. This is anybody’s nomination, but many of the national Republican Party leaders are hoping that Corker will win, simply because he will be the strongest GOP nominee against Ford. Hilleary and Bryant may well split the conservative vote and allow the moderate Corker to be nominated. This scenario will fall apart, though, if either Hilleary or Bryant drop out (and some conservative leaders want one or the other to do just that).


Harold Ford, Jr. – Democrat – Second Quarter Raised: $1,841,673.46 | Cash on Hand: $1,839,241.30

Bob Corker – Republican – Second Quarter Raised: $1,835,471.12 | Cash on Hand: $1,232,657.72