1st debate set for Sept. 25 in US Senate race in Tennessee

Friday, August 24, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 34

NASHVILLE (AP) — The first U.S. Senate debate between Democratic ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is set for Sept. 25.

Blackburn's campaign announced Monday she'll join the Cumberland University debate in Lebanon, the first invitation it has accepted as part of its general election debates. Hosts include The Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV and WNPT-TV.

Bredesen previously agreed to participate in that debate and three in Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Rhodes College spokesman Matt Gerien says Blackburn's campaign told them the Sept. 13 Memphis debate doesn't fit her schedule.

Bredesen said he'll host his own forum there because the closest debate to Memphis shouldn't be 200-plus miles away.

“I know it is the Washington playbook to avoid talking about the issues, but we deserve better here in Tennessee,” Bredesen said. “The closest debate to Memphis shouldn’t be more than 200 miles away and I hope Congressman Blackburn reconsiders.

"Memphians and West Tennesseans deserve attention to their issues just as much as the rest of the state and that is why I intend to be at Rhodes on September 13 and host a forum to share my ideas.”

The race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker could be pivotal for the slim Republican Senate majority.