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Is President Trump helping or hurting Tennessee GOP candidates?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Two veteran state politicians agree that the constant chaos swirling around President Donald Trump is not helping Republicans campaigning for statewide office here Tennessee.

There’s less agreement on just how much difference the so-called “Trump Effect” will have on Election Day, November 6.

Mary Mancini heads Tennessee’s Democratic Party. It’s no surprise she would think Donald Trump is a drag on GOP candidates running for statewide office.

“He’s making things worse, and we saw that with the tariff’s that came down to upset Tennessee farmers and Tennessee small businesses like whiskey distilleries.”

Longtime Tennessee Republican strategist Tom Ingram agrees Trump isn’t helping. He notes the president failed to boost primary campaigns by Diane Black or Randy Boyd in this year’s race for governor.

“We saw in the gubernatorial primary the two candidates who worked hardest to embrace, and be embraced by, Trump came in second and third. So it’s no guarantee.”

Ingram also notes that while the president’s approval rating may be down nationwide, he remains extremely popular in Tennessee. He says any candidate for statewide office, Republican or Democrat, will need to walk a very thin line where Trump is concerned.

“In Tennessee, to get elected, you’re going to have to be viewed as conservative enough, and you’re going to have to be viewed as not opposed or against Trump.”

Ingram says Democrat Phil Bredesen has so far managed that balancing act in his campaign to be the state’s next Senator. He says that’s making the race competitive in strongly Republican Tennessee.