Democrats running in red states frequently walk a tight-rope between the need to reassure independents and moderates while appeasing many supportive partisans. Such was the case for Tennessee Democrat Phil Bredesen, running for U.S. Senate against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
After coming out in support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, volunteers have been canceling on the campaign, Politico reported.
“I watched it very closely and finally I just came to the conclusion that all things being equal, I did not think that those allegations rose to the level of disqualification from the Supreme Court,” Bredesen said.
“As a woman voter in Tennessee, I felt torpedoed by the statement,” Memphis volunteer Rhonda McDowell told Politico. She’s been volunteering twice a week to help the campaign.
“I was so conflicted about it for a while but the more I think about these candidates who are down the ballot, the more I think I don’t want to cut off my nose to spite my face here,” she said.
The site quoted Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), whose seat Bredesen is running for, saying that the Democrats’ floor speeches and the hearing has hurt the Democrat in the race.
“I told [Chuck Schumer] I felt the Kavanaugh hearings themselves had been very detrimental to Gov. Bredesen and very positive for Rep. Blackburn. I wasn’t doing it to poke at him,” Corker said. “That was certainly very, very beneficial to Rep. Blackburn because people saw and they said: Do we really want these people in charge?”
Corker is actually a close friend of Bredesen’s, though he endorsed Blackburn.
“If it’s a political decision, that means he’s compromising his values, and if it’s not a political decision, that means he doesn’t share the same values I do,” said Vanderbilt graduate student Wil Morse. “That makes it difficult to keep volunteering and being as supportive as I was.”
President Donald Trump was in Tennessee to campaign for Blackburn last week, but pop-star Taylor Swift posted a significant endorsement for Bredesen on Instagram to her millions of fans. FiveThirtyEight said that Republicans could actually lose the seat in Tennessee if they’re not careful. The race stands at a toss-up.