Marsha Blackburn vying to become Tennessee's first female U.S. Senator

Drew Angerer  Getty Images North America

Drew Angerer Getty Images North America

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn was called as the victor just a few minutes after polls closed, easily defeating Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Her win represents a rightward shift from the GOP senator she will replace, Bob Corker, who fell in line with Tennessee's historical preference for more-centrist senators and at times was a vocal critic of Trump.

While the race was in a dead heat, Blackburn's poll numbers began to rise not long after President Donald Trump came to the state to promote her among MAGA supporters. Nonpartisan political analysis site Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball had labeled the state as lean Republican and a recent NBC News/Marist poll showed Blackburn with a 4 point lead.

What pundits are saying: Blackburn was among the earliest midterm candidates who went all in on President Trump's agenda, who returned the favor by visiting Tennessee to campaign on her behalf.

"Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me".

Blackburn, however, looked to highlight Bredesen's party affiliation at every turn, regularly tying him to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and some of the more high-profile liberal members of the legislative body. It's expected to be a close race between Blackburn and Democratic Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen who previously was governor for the state.

"I just really want those young people to know how important it is to the future of our country that you not get discouraged, that you stay engaged and you never, ever, ever give up", Bredesen said Tuesday night.

Describing herself as "hard core" and "politically incorrect and proud of it", Blackburn embraced her reputation as a conservative firebrand. These are not MY Tennessee values.

'She voted against equal pay for women. She's a tremendous woman'. "Having served at the state level as well as the federal level, Marsha will help bring power back to the states and truly make America great again".

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