Blackburn counts on Trump, ‘Fox factor’

Frank CagleFeature

Donald Trump is the key to the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, in one of two ways. He is popular – he carried all but three counties in the state and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn wins with Trump support.

Or, as I believe, Trump got a huge vote in Tennessee because he was running against Hillary Clinton. Blackburn will get the dedicated Trump supporters, but the question is whether there are enough of them to win. Where will the “regular Republicans” and independents go? Former Gov. Phil Bredesen has to have them because the ranks of dedicated Democrats in the state have been decimated. There aren’t enough Democrats to win a statewide race.

Blackburn may have a secret weapon in what you could call the “Fox Factor.” She has been a regular guest on the most popular cable news channel in Tennessee. The viewers skew older, the demographic that votes. And Blackburn is a known quantity from her many appearances.

She now has a commercial featuring Blackburn with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander talking about tax cuts. Alexander is no favorite of the state’s conservatives. What the commercial says is that Blackburn is counting on conservatives to stay with her while she reaches out to Alexander voters, the more moderate wing of the party.

The advertising is joined. Blackburn has joined Bredesen in flooding the airwaves. Quick impression? Bredesen sounds like he is running for governor again. Blackburn has more energy. Columnist George Will wrote that Bredesen is about as exciting as oatmeal. Blackburn is a high energy Trump supporter. Bredesen’s commercials are well executed and it will be interesting to see if the voters in this highly charged political atmosphere are eager and excited to have oatmeal.

Democrats think nothing about supporting women candidates just because they are women. Republicans not so much. I suspect that Blackburn may have a gender gap. Throughout her career she has refused to play the “women’s card.” She calls herself a “Congressman” not a ‘Congresswoman.” She has opposed funding Planned Parenthood and is pro-life. And I think that women in general are not as conservative as men.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, the two women candidates finished third and fourth. There were a lot of factors involved and I would hate to think that a significant number of voters just refused to vote for a woman.

Short takes

Not a healthy situation: They started to gather at Strawberry Plains Presbyterian Church at 2 a.m. Saturday. Over a two-day period, 292 East Tennesseans lined up to get medical care from the Remote Area Medical organization. I have often thought that the failure of Tennessee to expand Medicaid made it necessary for organizations like RAM to provide care. But I discovered that most of the care it offers is dental and vision care, conditions not covered by Medicaid.

This past weekend, for instance, 98 people got dental care, 218 got vision care and 88 got medical care. It was the 958th event since the organization started in 1984. It could not work without volunteers. The number of volunteers (350) outnumbered the patients at this stop, it was less remote than some other stops. There is usually a volunteer for every two patients. Individual donations comprise 70 percent of the organization’s budget, the rest comes from foundations and sponsors.

Uh-oh update: State House Majority Leader Glen Casada got involved in some Republican primaries and made contributions with his PAC. But some of his favored candidates did not win. That means there may be newcomers to the House upset about Casada supporting their opponent. That could impact Casada’s effort to become the next House speaker. That could shift some votes to Speaker Pro Tem Curtis Johnson, who is also running. Or the votes could give state Rep. David Hawk a boost. Speaker Beth Harwell stepped down to run for governor.



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