Top Tennessee political strategist calls flood of mid-term PAC money 'disgraceful'

Nov 8, 2018

A 2018 mid-term TV commercial aired by a GOP PAC attacking Senate candidate Phil Bredesen.
Credit Senate Leadership Fund

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A leading Republican strategist says the amount of outside money spent on Tennessee’s just completed Senate race is a “travesty” and “a disgrace.”

Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen waged the most expensive senate race in state history. Longtime Tennessee political operative Tom Ingram says it was all too much.

“I think it’s egregious and I think it disgraceful to our political process. This turns out to be probably an $80 million plus senate race, and $50 million of that, plus, is from out of state third parties that don’t have a vote in Tennessee.”

Ingram questions just how effective outside money is here. He says Tennessee voters have a stubborn streak and don’t, his words, “take kindly to people from the outside coming in and telling them what they ought to be thinking.”

But political proxies for both parties spent big in Tennessee. They did so because a win by Democrat Bredesen could conceivably have cost Republicans their majority in the U.S. Senate.

Ingram tells WMOT he does see an upside to the passion generated by the mid-terms. In Tennessee, and across the country, voters went to the polls in record numbers.

“As high as 80 percent of the registered voters in the country participated and that’s good news for our democracy. People are energized and interested and engaged.”

One indication of that engagement: 2018 early voting participation rates more than doubled the previous mid-term election in 2014.