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Tenn. Democrats see a ray of electoral hope in Tuesday victories


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  What do victories by Democrats in Tuesday’s handful of elections mean for Tennessee politics, if anything?

Democrats were especially heartened following a decisive win by Ralph Northam in the Virginia Governor’s race.

It's a win former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen will likely stud with interest. The state’s last Democratic governor, Bredesen is said to be considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Bob Corker.

Nashville Democrat and former mayor Karl Dean will also be looking for takeaways from the Tuesday results following his entry into the 2018 race for Tennessee governor.

Mid-state political commentator Kent Syler says Bredesen and Dean will no doubt be encouraged by the strong turnout among Virginia Democrats and what it says about President Trump’s political influence.

“I’m looking at the energy that Democrats showed in urban and suburban areas in Virginia, and a lot of that energy was directed at Donald Trump.”

But Syler says Tennessee Democrats need to take note of the fact that Northam did not get the support of Virginia’s rural residents. He says it’s those rural Virginian’s who have the most in common with the average Tennessee voter.

“Rural Virginia is a lot like rural Tennessee, so certainly the Democrats haven’t figured out really how to correct their problems with rural voters.”

Syler says there are limits to any comparisons between the two states. He notes that in last year’s presidential contest Hillary Clinton won Virginia by five percentage points, while Donald Trump carried Tennessee by 26 percentage points.