Former Governor Phil Bredesen Announces US Senate Run

Erik Schelzig  AP

The former governor - a political moderate and fiscal conservative who recently turned 74 - was the last Democrat to win a statewide election in Tennessee. He cruised to re-election in 2006, garnering more votes than any gubernatorial candidate in Tennessee history and sweeping all 95 counties against Republican opponent Jim Bryson.

Although Tennessee's political landscape has drastically shifted since then - Republicans control both U.S. Senate seats, seven of nine Congressional seats, the governor's mansion and super majorities in both state legislative chambers - Bredesen's candidacy is widely seen as a game-changer, perhaps turning Tennessee into a battleground.

On Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn released a statement surrounding unconfirmed reports of Bredesen's run, calling his views "out-of-touch with Tennessee values". In a video announcing his candidacy, Bredesen again sounded centrist themes, touting his experience as governor and his ability to work across party lines.

Bredesen's entry promises to make the race in a deeply Republican state a competitive one.

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Former Nashville lawyer and Iraq War vet James Mackler is the only other announced candidate for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Republican Bob Corker.

Bredesen, age 73, is a wealthy former Nashville mayor who was first elected governor in 2002.

Blackburn, 65, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003.

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