Tennessee Democrat running for Senate does not want to be associated with Democrat party
It would be difficult to tell that Phil Bredesen is a Democrat by observing him and his cadre of supporters at the "World's Largest Fish Fry" here on Friday.The way to beat this kind of candidate is to tie him to Chuck Schumer and make it clear that such ties will thwart the kind of conservative age4nda that people in Tennessee want.
Most of his Senate campaign signs don't advertise it, and it isn't part of his pitch to voters lined up on Old State Road 76. More than a few spectators at the parade honoring catfish turned to their family to ask if he is for or against President Donald Trump.
This is just how Bredesen, the former two-term governor of Tennessee and former mayor of Nashville, wants it.
"I don't want to come across as somebody who is the toy of the national Democratic Party," says Bredesen, the soft-spoken, cerebral 74-year old Senate candidate, as he walks the parade route.
Tennessee hasn't sent a Democrat to the US Senate in over 20 years, and the state has only trended more towards Republicans since Bredesen won his last statewide election in 2006. But in an election year shaping up to be good for Democrats nationwide, Bredesen's campaign is banking on his personal brand -- not the party's -- to win a state Trump won by 26 points in 2016.
Instead of direct attacks on the Republican Party or his opponent on Friday, Bredesen was more reflective, arguing that it's his party that needs to apologize for leaving voters like those lined up in Paris by focusing too much on issues like what should happen to Confederate monuments on public land or whether transgender students should be banned from using bathrooms conforming with their gender identity.
"What happens to Confederate monuments or what bathrooms people use, it doesn't show up on their radar screen," he says, pointing to the droves of Tennessee voters watching the parade floats drift by. "We (Democrats) are just playing to a piece of the base and ignoring stuff that is much more meaningful to a much broader group of people."