Tennessee midterm elections end with significant wins for Republican candidates

Marsha Blackburn greets the crowd at the Franklin Marriott Conference Center in Cool Springs following her victory over Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate on Nov. 6, 2018. (MTSU Sidelines / Anthony Merriweather)

Photos by staff

Story by Anthony Merriweather / Mutlimedia Editor, Hayden Goodridge / Reporter and Janecia Gales / Contributing Writer and Andrew Wigdor / Editor-in-Chief 

Tuesday’s midterm elections ended with two major Republican wins in Senate and gubernatorial races.

Marsha Blackburn, who represents Tennessee’s 7th Congressional district, won the U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee, defeating Democratic candidate and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen. Multiple polls leading up to the election displayed that the difference in the Senate race was around five points and that it would be tightly contested. An East Tennessee State University poll from Nov. 2 even displayed a tie between the two candidates. Blackburn, however, bested Bredesen quickly, with the Associated Press calling the race within the first few hours of the polls

Marsha Blackburn thanks all those involved in her successful campaign at the Franklin Marriott Conference Center in Cool Springs following her victory over Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate on Nov. 6, 2018. (MTSU Sidelines / Anthony Merriweather)

closing. Blackburn will be Tennessee’s first state-wide female elected official. In a state where President Donald Trump won by 26 points, Blackburn continuously said that she would support Trump’s major promises, such as the Mexican border wall, during her race.

“Thank you to the voters of Tennessee,” Blackburn said during her victory speech at her election night viewing party at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs hotel in Franklin. “Thank you for believing in me, for hearing our message and for giving me your vote and for allowing me to be the first woman ever (to be a state-wide elected official),” Blackburn said. “And just imagine this, it is a conservative woman.”

Bill Lee’s family stand in solidarity behind him as he addresses his supporters on Nov. 6, 2018, in Franklin, Tenn. (MTSU Sidelines / Hayden Goodridge)

“To Phil Bredesen and his campaign, I would like to congratulate them on a hard-fought race,” Blackburn added. “I hope they know that my door is always open … I hope they work with us on better tomorrows for our children and our grandchildren.”

Bredesen conceded to Blackburn during his viewing party at the Hilton Nashville Downtown hotel, saying, “I applied for the job, but I got a rejection letter.”

Bredesen ran on more moderate values, with many noting his cross-party appeal. He repeatedly stated during his campaign that he would support Trump if he proposed something that would benefit Tennessee and would do the opposite if the president proposed something that would harm the state.

In the state gubernatorial race, Republican candidate Bill Lee easily beat his Democratic competitor, Karl Dean, to become the state’s 50th governor. Lee, a business owner, built his image around his political outsider label and the intent to run a clean, positive campaign.

Karl Dean gives his concession speech on Nov. 6, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (MTSU Sidelines / Janecia Gales)

Lee’s win was one of the first governor’s races to be called throughout the country, and he gave his victory speech around 8 p.m at The Factory shopping center in Franklin.

In his speech, Lee avoided divisive rhetoric by praising Dean for his opposing campaign, as well as explicitly addressing constituents that had voted against him.

“I’m going to do everything I can for those who didn’t vote for me … to make them proud that I am their governor,” Lee said. 

Dean, at his election night viewing event at Clementine Hall in Nashville said that while the election did not go as planned, he did not regret running.

“This campaign was a family affair, and it brought us closer,” Dean said during the event.

Among other notable races, incumbent Scott DesJarlais, the Republican U.S. representative for Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district defeated former Rutherford County teacher and Democratic candidate Mariah Phillips in the race for his seat. DesJarlais has represented the district, which includes Rutherford County, since 2011. 

For more extensive midterm election results, visit here.

To contact News Editor Caleb Revill, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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