Sabato's Crystal Ball

Tennessee Governor 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Likely R

Democratic candidates: Mike McWherter, businessman

Republican candidates: Bill Haslam, mayor of Knoxville

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: June 3, 2010

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is term limited. This one is unquestionably leaning Republican, but which Republican? Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has the inside track, though Congressman Zach Wamp is fighting hard, among others. Democrats simply don’t have a top-drawer choice for 2010, with Mike McWherter, son of former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, as the party’s nominee. The state voted heavily for McCain and will probably end the eight-year Democratic reign in the statehouse as well. Instinctively, most political observers believe the Volunteer State will be volunteering for the GOP in 2010. LIKELY REPUBLICAN TAKEOVER.

Update: October 15, 2009

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is term limited. This one is unquestionably leaning Republican, but which Republican? Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam may have the inside track, though Congressman Zach Wamp is fighting hard, among others. Democrats simply don’t have a top-drawer choice for 2010. The state voted heavily for McCain and will probably end the eight-year Democratic reign in the statehouse as well. Instinctively, most political observers believe the Volunteer State will be volunteering for the GOP in 2010.

Update: March 19, 2009

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN): OPEN SEAT. The Volunteer State may be increasingly Republican, but it has been reasonably happy with a moderate Democrat, Phil Bredesen, for two terms. With his term-limited departure in 2010, the Republicans want to reclaim the statehouse, and they had hoped to bring out one of their biggest guns. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R), who voluntarily left the Senate in 2006 to honor a term-limits pledge, was considered the leading GOP candidate until he announced in early 2009 that he wouldn’t run. Frist would have been virtually unopposed for the nomination should he have sought it, and the undisputed frontrunner in the fall, but no one else will be in that favored position. Congressman Zach Wamp (R) and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) have made known their interest, but many Republicans believe that Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is the early frontrunner to be the GOP nominee. So far the Democrats do not have a prominent candidate. Congressman Lincoln Davis decided not to run. Former state House Majority Leader Kim McMillan has filed but a half-dozen others, such as former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell and ex-Congressman Harold Ford, an African-American who lost a close 2006 U.S. Senate race, are contemplating a bid but have not announced. We’ll be a bit surprised if this one doesn’t lean Republican in the end, but with Frist out and the nominees uncertain, it’s only fair to call it a TOSS-UP.