Anti-Bredesen ad is ‘damn lies’

Frank CagleFeature, Frank Talk

The Americans for Prosperity attack ad against Phil Bredesen is so inept it ought to be counted as an in-kind contribution to the Bredesen campaign.

If Marsha Blackburn loses this U.S. Senate race she can give partial credit to the Koch brothers organization out to “help” Blackburn beat Bredesen. Negative advertising can work if you use it to define a candidate no one knows. The problem with the Prosperity ad against Bredesen is that people know Bredesen and they know better. And the ad is full of damn lies.

This ill-conceived $2 million ad buy was a softball and Bredesen was able to knock it out of the park, hurting the credibility of the Blackburn campaign. He will probably run his response ad for the rest of the campaign.

The sales tax was increased six months before Bredesen took office as governor. The gas tax, increased this year, was last increased when Ned McWherter was governor. To assert that Bredesen raised the sales tax and the gas tax is ridiculous.

If you want to criticize Bredesen in an ad and tell the truth you can point out that he took money out of the highway trust fund to balance the general fund budget and weakened the state’s road program. You can criticize too much money being spent to renovate the governor’s mansion, which needed an upgrade. But to imply that it was done for the Bredesens to live it up is ridiculous. Bredesen stayed in his much more palatial home in Nashville and didn’t deign to live in government housing.

You beat Bredesen by saying he was a good governor, but if he goes to Washington he will be a tool for Sen. Chuck Schumer, he will be a vote against the Republican agenda and you need to vote to keep him at home counting his money. There could be three more Supreme Court justices nominated while Trump is president, do you want the Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate?

The latest poll has the race neck and neck.

Attack ads aren’t one-sided. Majority Forward, a front for Schumer’s campaign to wrest back Democratic control of the Senate, has an attack ad against Blackburn. Adding up her salary from her 16 years of service makes the lump sum look extravagant. Add up your annual salary for 16 years and be surprised by the total. (And wonder where it went.) Also, members of Congress do not have lifetime health care. Pay raises are in appropriations bills and if you vote to fund the government you are voting for pay raises. Blackburn has taken trips, fully disclosed, paid for by special interest groups. She deserves criticism for that, though it isn’t unusual for members of Congress.

Blackburn and Bredesen campaign ads have generally not been personal attacks. But these out-of-state special interest groups are determined to introduce mud-slinging and acrimony. You can’t stop them. But Blackburn and Bredesen could disavow the ads and ask for them to cease.

In the governor’s race, Bill Lee is still benefiting from months of primary television ads. The latest poll gives him a comfortable lead over Karl Dean. Dean ran ads during the primary as well, but voter interest focused on the vicious Republican primary.

If the Republican primary did anything it cleaned up the general election campaign for governor. We do not expect Dean or Lee to run false, misleading, half-truth ads against each other. But given the small margin for control of the U.S. Senate and the desperation of both parties to pick up the Tennessee seat we can expect to see a lot of money poured into the race. We can expect more negativity and I suspect by election day we will be sick of both sides, thanks to the out-of-state, out-of-control big money special interests.

Short takes

Merit? New Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler announced last week a reorganization to try and get fewer chiefs and more Indians in the department. But the new sheriff has been unable to reorganize to the extent he might wish. Outgoing Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones put some of his hires under the Merit Council, meaning they cannot be fired at will as political appointees.

Get a Jim Henry: Some critics of Gov. Bill Haslam and his relationship with the legislature urged him to get “a Jim Henry” type aide to improve communications. Haslam did one better. He hired the Jim Henry to be deputy governor. The former House Republican Leader and commissioner improved Haslam’s communications and smoothed out a lot of rough spots. Should Republican Bill Lee win election he has never held public office and in the governor’s chair he will badly need a “Jim Henry type” guy, with years of experience. It won’t be the Jim Henry, who told me last week he is looking forward to settling down on his Roane County farm.

Hadn’t heard this one: A neighbor, discussing two of our friends. “It takes those old boys two hours to watch 60 Minutes.”

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