Political analyst breaks down race for U.S. Senate: Marsha Blackburn v. Gloria Johnson – WKRN News 2

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Democrat State Representative and a member of the ‘Tennessee Three’, Gloria Johnson, has made national headlines this week, announcing her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn. The question is: will those headlines ultimately mean votes?

“Call me skeptical that any Democrat can come close right now against Senator Blackburn in a state like Tennessee,” said ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.

Looking at the race’s history, a democrat hasn’t won the seat since 1990.

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“I’m old enough to remember in 2018 when former Governor Bredesen was the price recruit and Taylor Swift herself couldn’t change the dynamics and avoid a double digit defeat in a year that was generally pretty good for Democrats,” said Klein. “It’s hard for me to imagine a world where this becomes a hyper competitive, super competitive race, but you don’t know unless you try.”

Klein said he anticipates Democrats will try to make the battle between Johnson and Blackburn competitive.

“There’s no question that the Democrats in the state are going to want lots of resources and I think a lot of donors are going to be willing and able to do that and open up their checkbooks for the story that she brings,” said Klein.

He said he believes there will be momentum behind this race, especially because of all the eyes on Tennessee’s politics this year with protestors flooding the capitol, the representative’s expulsions, and the special session on public safety.

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“All of it has become kind of a mini case study in political activism because it’s galvanized the nation, it’s galvanized democratic activists in Tennessee and well beyond, and it’s awakened something very real in in the base of the party,” said Klein. “The problem, I think, is trying to overcome all at once the very stubborn political dynamics of an extremely red state in Tennessee.”

Topics including gun violence and school safety fired up Tennessee residents during the special session, and it’s expected these will open the door to key campaign points.

“My hunch would be that there’s one issue that opens the conversation, but the Gloria Johnson tries to make it a lot bigger than that,” said Klein.

The race also falls in step with the presidential election, which Klein said can impact the results.

“Traditionally, a presidential year has more turnout, and turnout typically means a bigger advantage for the party that has a stranglehold over states politics,” said Klein. “It’s kind of a rising tide that you would expect in Tennessee to be quite red.”

The election will happen on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.

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