Friday, February 16, 2018

Bredesen, in Memphis, Sees Good Chance to Win Senate as Moderate Democrat

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 7:18 AM

click to enlarge The former Governor schmoozed happily with a group of young Dreamers in Memphis. - JB
  • JB
  • The former Governor schmoozed happily with a group of young Dreamers in Memphis.
Former Governor Phil Bredesen reintroduced himself to West Tennessee Democrats in a kickoff of his Senatorial campaign Thursday night in Memphis at the Old Dominick Distillery building downtown. A good crowd was on hand, a mix of old Democratic hands and a new wave of resistance people, with a  number of Dreamers present.

Bredesen, looking much the same as he did when left the Governor's office in 2011, was introduced by local Democrat Greg Duckett as "a bridge builder and not a bridge burner," as someone Democrats could unite behind and who wants to start a process of galvanizing forces and uniting them, as a respected business person trying to bring sanity to into a process where there is none., to build bridges in Washington and get things done in the best interests of the populace.

After being introduced, Bredesen threw a bouquet or two to Memphis, saying it was an incredibly vital city, with "politics kinda wild, like Chicago."

He then shared some of the thought processes he'd gone through before making his decision to run. Originally, Bredesen said, the idea of running for the Senate was Number 93 on his list of 100 things he might like to do. But after incumbent Republican Senator Bob Corker dropped out he started getting calls, and he began thinking a lot about how unhappy he was with how things were going in Washington - a state of things that didn't just begin with Trump;

He began thinking that he, as the last statewide Democratic office-holder, had the best chance of being successful. He thought about how he'd always tried to bring people along, from both sides of the aisle. "I didn't just start this last year. People just want some motion. They want the ball moved. They want to answer some questions."

He talked about how he'd met some Dreamers early in the evening and how immoral it was to let these kids struggle to hang on. "We need to go find common ground in Washington to deal with that, I need to start moving the ball and make some things happen."

Bredesen spoke of his expertise in health-cafe issues and his background in resolving Tenn-Care problems as Governor. He said he honestly thought he could be the Go-To guy in the Senate on health-care issues.

He addressed the issue of whether Tennessee was an unredeemably Red State or whether it was possible for him to win. "I'm a little old to be going on suicide missions. I really think there's a way forward. We really can elect a moderate Democrat to this state in Tennessee." He spoke of having conducted polls that demonstrate that such a person could defeat "a hard-rock conservative" in Tennessee and polls that showed him on the winning side in a race against putative GOP Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn.

Again: "If I can get people to help, it's a very doable, winnable race. We've always sent moderate people to Washington. It's time to do it again. I'd be honored and proud to serve as a U.S. Senator."

In a private interview with reporters afterward, Bredesen amplified on some of his views.

To be honest, it was one of the biggest concerns I had when I was thinking about this. Going from being somebody like a mayor or a governor thinking you can make something happening on Monday morning to where you're a junior member of a hundred large egos is sort of challenging.
What I found when I talked about it, and I talked to several people who were former governors I had known who were now in the Senate, Marc Jordan of Virginia was one of them. Tim Kaine became a friend of mine. What they both told me was don't come here and expect to be Governor, but if you've got some expertise, a policy interest in some area, if you get on the right kind of committee - Health and Welfare in my case - you can really be effective.
In transitioning from business to government, I found that everything is more difficult in government. And it's even harder if you are dealing with the whole country. It takes more cooperation.

ON THE STATE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN TENNESEE: I'm not sure that the Democratic brand is damaged in this state. The issue is that Republicans are static in their party identification, while Democrats have started calling themselves independents. Now, Harold ford Jr. and I in 2006 we did stick together.

I wouldn't be running against Bob [Corker], if he should get back in, or against Marsha. I just want to present myself, I want to learn Memphis issues. They aren't the same as 7 years ago. I need to educate myself.

Oh yeah, because I am. I grew up in a small town with conservative ideas on fiscal solvency., I'm proud that as Governor I got the rainy-day fund up and got the state's AAA rating back. We had to cut back on spending. There weren't a lot of options.

ON THE SALVAGEAB8LITY OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: I wasn't a big fan of the ACA. I'm tempted to say 'I told you so.' But we've got to do something to stabilize those markets. Over the long run we've got to move into something bigger and better. There's a lot I don't know about how the Senate works, but I'm committed to coming into the situation and working purposely to find out how to get things done.

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