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Bredesen appeals for big Memphis turnout to help win U.S. Senate race

Spending some of his last hours before Election Day at one of Memphis’ most popular barbecue spots, Phil Bredesen said the race to become Tennessee’s newest senator is “on a knife’s edge.”

The former governor and Democratic Party standard-bearer told a packed house at Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q on Third Street that his bid to beat Seventh District U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn “is really going to be won or loss in Shelby County.”

Phil Bredesen details differences between his and his GOP challenger. (Photo: John Semien)

About 100 people braved a substantive Monday afternoon rain in a show of support for Bredesen, who was pushing hard down to the end to emerge the winner in the high-stakes political fight to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

“They told me there would be a few people in the back room and there are,” Bredesen quipped, after making the rounds and shaking hands. “But there are a few people in the front here too.”

Painting a picture of the contrast between him and Blackburn, Bredesen described his GOP challenger as being very adept at playing the hard-nosed “take no prisoners” political game that he said Washington has come to represent.

“I want to do something different,” he said. “I want to go up there. I want to start figuring out what I can get done for the people of Tennessee…move things forward and start making some progress.”

He outline areas and issues were progress was sorely needed.

“…In healthcare, we’ve got these enormous issues here in our state and in our country,” Bredesen said. “We’ve got to do something about the rights of people who have pre-existing conditions that are under attack. I’ve heard all across our state about this drug pricing, about how expensive drugs have gotten for people…We’ve got issues with the opioid crisis … a lot of work to be done with the VA…”

Noting that he is from a small town, Bredesen said that as senator he would be cognizant of the fact that he represented some rural areas as well as urban areas such as Memphis.

“…Back in the 40s, TVA was involved in world electrification so everyone had electricity,” Bredesen said. “I think the Internet is in that category. Everybody, whether in the city or the rural areas needs to have good access to the Internet.”

In a short press conference after his spoke to the crowd, Bredesen said he has voiced concerns about the Shelby County Election Commission as far as voter disenfranchisement. He said there will be people watching the polls and that other steps have been taken to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I hope everything goes smoothly but if it doesn’t, I really think we have the horsepower to challenge it,” he said.

Congressman Steve Cohen put the mid-term election in historic context. (Photo: John Semien)

Congressman Steve Cohen (D-9th District) briefly addressed the crowd ahead of Bredesen. He described the mid-term election as “the election of our lives…

“As bad as you felt when Donald Trump got elected (president), having Marsha Blackburn elected will make you feel worse.”

Cohen made reference to President Trump’s description of Democrats as a mob.

“There’s a mob we want to show him on Tuesday,” he said. “Let the Shelby County mob come out and vote for Phil Bredesen, and vote for me and for Karl Dean (Democratic candidate for governor) and the whole Democratic ticket.”

Darrell Catron, who does a podcast called Funky Politics, said he came by Interstate to show support and to help fire up voters.

“I think my mind has always been made up,” he said. “Gov. Bredesen has always been a really even keel kind of guy…We’re just kind of rallying the troops right now. Getting people to the polls is the most important thing. Turn out the vote, especially our millennials, and our younger people and our right-minded-thinking Republicans.”

Catron said he is doing volunteer work with several groups on Election Day to help people get rides to the polls.

Getting to the polls won’t be a problem for Ina Buford and when she gets there will be no hesitating when it comes to the race for U.S. Senator.

“I will be voting for Phil Bredesen,” she said. “I do believe he is the best candidate.”

 

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