Tennessee early voting begins; Senate, gov’s races in focus

October 17, 2018 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Early voting opened Wednesday for Tennessee’s contentious Nov. 6 midterm elections, a moment candidates in high-profile contests for governor and U.S. Senate looked to seize as they rallied voters to turn out.

Tennessee’s Republican nominees for governor and Senate rallied in front of supporters at an event in Franklin, in the home county of both of the candidates.

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is in a tough race against Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker. Polls show businessman Bill Lee with a lead over Democratic former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in the race to succeed GOP Gov. Bill Haslam, who is hitting his term limits.

“I think that we’re going to see a lot of those lines of people waiting to get that vote in the ballot box,” said Blackburn, the GOP Senate nominee and an ally of President Donald Trump. “We were over in Henderson, in Chester County and somebody came in who works with the election commission and they said, ’You know we have people calling and saying, ‘What time do the polls open tomorrow morning? Because I want to get my vote in.’ I think one of the reasons for this is because of the message we as Republicans have and we can point to what we as Republicans have done.”

“I do believe Tennessee can lead the nation and I do believe this nation needs some states to lead, and I would be honored to serve you,” Lee added.

Their Democratic opponents stayed in their hometown, Nashville, for an event to stir up support for their bids to try to gain wins in a red state. Bredesen said his race is “very tight” and will come down to who turns out to vote.

“I’m all about just getting some things done,” Bredesen said. “Let’s move the ball. Let’s just stop messing around and put the problem out on the table in front and solve it.”

“You’ve got to be a state that’s friendly. You’ve got to be a state that values diversity. And you’ve got to be a state that’s welcoming,” Dean added.

Voters can cast their ballots early through Nov. 1. Only those already registered to vote can participate.

Early voting locations are available at county election commission offices, as well as satellite voting locations, and are open Monday through Saturdays. To find your local early voting site, check your county’s website or download the GoVote TN mobile app.

Tennesseans must bring a valid driver’s license or photo ID issued by the state of Tennessee, a U.S. passport, a military photo ID or a Tennessee handgun carry permit. Out-of-state photo ID, college student IDs or local municipal IDs are not accepted.