Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen personally backed Nathan Vaughn’s 2nd House District candidacy during a Renaissance Center fundraising luncheon at Kingsport on Wednesday, reports Hank Hayes.
“(Vaughn) always represented what he thought the people in his district wanted,” Bredesen, a term-limited Democrat at the end of his administration, told about 120 Vaughn supporters at a $25 per plate event.
Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat, is attempting to retake the seat he held for six years from GOP incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley, who defeated him by 322 votes in 2008.
As Bredesen was speaking, the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) issued a release saying Bredesen’s visit can’t change Vaughn’s liberal voting record. TRP cited Vaughn’s votes on taxes, illegal immigration and health care in the release.
“…During Phil Bredesen’s time as governor, Democrats lost their grip on the legislature which goes to show that his coattails are non-existent in Tennessee,” TRP Chairman Chris Devaney said in the release. “No amount of rhetoric can change the liberal votes Nathan Vaughn cast when he previously served in the legislature. In stark contrast, Representative Shipley reflects the values of this district when casting his votes on the state House floor which is why we’re extremely confident voters are going to send him back to Nashville for another term.”
After the event, Bredesen admitted it’s going to be a tough year for Democrats.
“I never believed in the coattail notion,” Bredesen said. “I just think people make their decisions…When I ran for governor the first time (unsuccessfully against Republican Don Sundquist in 1994), (outgoing Democrat Governor) Ned McWherter was going out of office in great popularity and in the end that stuff doesn’t do anything.”
Bredesen added there’s a “cold wind” coming out of Washington, D.C., for his party, although he said there’s a “real chance” Democrats could retake the Tennessee House but not the Senate.
Vaughn’s loss in 2008 tipped the scales narrowly in favor of the Republicans in the state House, where they now hold a 50-48 majority.
Vaughn told the luncheon gathering that the district needs someone to lead rather than posture.
“We need a representative who understands the business of government that knows how to get things done and work with people on both sides of the aisle to make sure the people have a voice in Nashville,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn also warned the campaign between him and Shipley – which was contentious two years ago – will get ugly.
Vaughn cited Shipley’s allegation to a Kingsport Tea Party group on Tuesday night that he is using out-of-state help in his campaign.
“These are nothing but idle attacks…For a responsible member of the General Assembly to allege that kind of attack with no information as to the truthfulness about it, I just can’t believe he would repeat something like that,” Vaughn said of Shipley, R-Kingsport. “He’s going to pull every low down dirty trick he can, and I know that from 2008…Desperate people do desperate things.”
In response, Shipley called both Bredesen and Vaughn “tax-and-spend Democrats.”
“I appreciate he’s here to work against me since I worked against his tax increases the last two years, and I would have voted against his tax increases the next two years,” Shipley said of Bredesen. “I wish Mr. Bredesen well in retirement and I wish Mr. Vaughn well in retirement.”
Bredesen suggested that on Shipley’s watch, the district was “not on board” with his policies and added Vaughn had a bipartisan record.
“He’s not into ‘D’ and ‘R’ politics particularly…I think he’d be a good guy to send back,” Bredesen said of Vaughn.