Bredesen, who faces Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn on the ballot, began his campaign’s last statewide push before Election Day in Johnson City. He told supporters who greeted him at Cranberries Cafe, 1904 Knob Creek Road, there was “no better place to start one of the longest days” of the Senate campaign.
“I need your help one last day,” he told the crowd. “It’s a very close race, and it will come down to turnout.”
The two-term governor said it has been “an interesting campaign,” and one that has been “very noisy” in the media.
“I’ve tried to be respectful,” Bredesen said. “We’ve been more quiet and considerate in our tone.”
The race for the seat now held by Republican lawmaker Bob Corker could decide which party holds a majority in the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats, as well as like-minded advocacy groups, have spent a record amount of campaign cash in the race in Tennessee.
Bredesen used his Johnson City stop to hit on many of the central themes of his campaign. He said health care reform was an important issue to him, and noted the Affordable Health Care Act was “hanging on by a knife’s edge.” Bredesen said he was particularly interested in preserving provisions for pre-existing medical conditions.
The Democratic candidate also told supporters he grew up in a rural area, and was keenly ware of the issues that impact such communities. He said broadband internet access is as important to those neighborhoods today as electricity was to communities when the Tennessee Valley Authority was created 70 years ago.
Bredesen also said battling opioid addiction is an issue impacting all of Tennessee. He credited U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., for his legislative work on the issue, but said it was just “a first step and more is needed.”
Local Democrats at Bredesen’s rally Monday said they believe their candidate’s record as governor would help him attract Republican and independent voters. Kate Craig, a leader of the Washington County Democratic Party, said that while nearly 45 percent of Tennesseans have voted early, there are still plenty of ballots yet to be marked.
“There’s no reason for anybody to stay home tomorrow,” she said.
Nathan Farnor, who is challenging state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, in the 7th District, said Bredesen is “going to do well” at the polls.
“He is loved by people on both sides of the aisle,” Farnor said.