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Tennessee Senate race results: Marsha Blackburn defeats Phil Bredesen

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marsha blackburn
Marsha
Blackburn addresses the Republican National Convention in
July.

John Moore/Getty
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  • Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn has won the Senate race in
    Tennessee against Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen, keeping
    the red state in GOP hands. 
  • President Donald Trump won the state of Tennessee in the 2016
    election by 26 points against Democratic presidential nominee
    Hillary Clinton.

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn won a competitive battle against
centrist Democrat and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen to
replace retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker, multiple news outlets
projected on Tuesday night. 

Blackburn, a hard-line conservative who embraced President Donald
Trump’s support, will become the southern state’s first-ever
female state-wide elected official. 

The race was unusually competitive for a deeply red state that
Trump won by 26 points — in part because of Bredesen’s popularity
and record as governor. (The Democrat won all 95 counties in
Tennessee when he was reelected to the governorship in
2006.) 

Polls had for months shown the candidates within single digits of
each other —
a late October Vanderbilt University poll
found the two in a
dead heat with Blackburn ahead by a single point. 

While Blackburn was boosted by recent campaign events with
President Donald Trump and other top Republicans, Bredesen
received
unexpected last-minute help
from pop megastar Taylor Swift,
who
broke her political silence
 to endorse his
campaign in October.

Despite the state’s right turn, it was hard to find a Blackburn
voter who will say a bad word about their former governor.

“Phil Bredesen has actually done a lot of really great things
here in Nashville,” Sam Cook, a 28-year-old physical therapist
who’s voting for Blackburn and is a strong supporter of Trump,

told Business Insider
at a late October fall festival in
Franklin.

While Bredesen did his best to distance himself from the
national party and Democrats in Washington, Blackburn, like so
many Republicans in red states, wrapped herself around the
president.

But despite Blackburn’s full embrace of Trump, many Tennesseans
draw a distinction between the candidate and the president. And
the congresswoman herself occasionally draws a line herself,
conceding that Tennesseans won’t always stand for his rhetoric.

“There’s been a couple of times … I’ve said we need to take a
kinder approach,” Blackburn said in an interview last Saturday.
“This is the South and people have a lot of respect for manners.”

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