Oct 19 2017
06:20 am

U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler is a better candidate than former Governor Phil Bredesen.

On April 17, James Mackler quit his job with a big Nashville law firm, announced his candidacy, hit the ground running and is campaigning on a platform of providing economic opportunity, bipartisan healthcare reform, effective K-12 education and affordable college.
April 17 wasn’t the first time Mackler gave up a good job to take on public service.
Bredesen is accomplished and smart. He is 74. Mackler is accomplished and smart. He is 45 and boundlessly energetic.

Many members of the Tennessee Democratic Party didn't like Bredesen when he was governor. What changed? Desperation?

Maybe it is time to give someone new a chance with the full support of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

yellowdog's picture


The past isn't working well for the Dems.

Average Guy's picture


Bredesen was so moderate he could have been seen as a Republican on a lot of his policy.

The Progressive's answer to the problem?

No, but this is Tennessee and the alternative is Marsha Blackburn.

Republicans looking for an out can go for the moderate name they know, but I think they'll just stay home for the D name they don't know.

jcg's picture

Why repeat a failed strategy?

That was HRC's strategy & it failed. Why doesn't Bredesen donate some of his millions to Mackler's campaign? Why split the field?

Average Guy's picture

I acquiesce

From a branding standpoint, I still believe it's a gamble, but I think last night speaks to the possibility.

bizgrrl's picture

I'm still not sure about a

I'm still not sure about a Bredesen campaign. Keep in mind , TN is not really like VA, NJ, ME, etcc.

Average Guy's picture

HRC called 60% of Tennesseans deplorable

I don't think Bredesen believes that or would be stupid enough to say it if he did.

At any rate, if you could start the race against Blackburn in a dead heat, why wouldn't you? (link...)

Rachel's picture

I'll vote for whichever

I'll vote for whichever Democrat can win the primary. My main goal is to keep Blackburn out of the Senate. If that means Bredesen, I can deal.

cafkia's picture

That is not helpful. We all

That is not helpful. We all know that a mangy dog in the early stages of rabies would be better than Blackburn. This ain't about that. The primary is ideally where we pick the best candidate with the best chance of winning. The candidate that is most likely to excite the some-times-voters to get off of their asses.

In the recent past, choices between republicans and republican-lites have all gone to the republicans. Running Bredesen is just plain stupid and he and the state party organization need to hear that from as many people as possible.

Yes, if Ted Bundy's zombie rises from the grave to run as a Dem against Blackburn, I will openly and freely vote zombie. But it would be better if we actually had a good option.

Rachel's picture

Well, okay then. I'll be

Well, okay then. I'll be blunt. I like Mackler better but I think Bredesen has a better chance of winning.

I haven't decided what to do with that yet.

cafkia's picture

Whereas I think Bredesen has

Whereas I think Bredesen has zero chance of winning. Yes, he would get the hardcore Dem vote and some percentage of the milquetoast independent vote but would not excite any of the youth and again, when given a choice between a republican or a republican-lite, anyone that trends republican will choose the republican - if history is any indicator at all.

Andy Axel's picture

"if history is any indicator

"if history is any indicator at all"

In 2008, if no one under 30 had voted, Obama still would have won.

GDrinnen2's picture

"when given a choice between

"when given a choice between a republican or a republican-lite, anyone that trends republican will choose the republican - if history is any indicator at all."

We don't have to look very far to find examples of how this isn't true. Bredesen was elected twice as "Republican-lite" against Republican candidates. And I submit that many of those same Republicans that supported Bredesen would be far more horrified by Blackburn than they were of Van Hillary.

Knoxoasis's picture

Different times. Tennessee is

Different times. Tennessee is far more uniformly Republican than it was in Bredeson's time. Back then if I recall correctly he could count on the remaining Dixiecrats of west Tennessee to pull him through. That doesn't really exist anymore. Trump won Tennessee 60-35 over Hillary. Do you really believe statewide that that many people are going to flip for a Democrat they've never heard of, no matter who the Republican nominee is?

GDrinnen2's picture

I think there are lots of

I think there are lots of moderate Republicans who would vote for Bredesen in a heartbeat over Blackburn.

But your point about Tennessee being very different is well-taken and true. I still think Bredesen is probably the only candidate who can give any Republican a run for their money statewide next year.

Andy Axel's picture

Different, sure but "more uniformly Republican?"

Don't know about this. Chattanooga, Clarksville, and Knoxville all have Democratic mayors and they didn't 10 years ago. The midstate is growing a lot and a hefty percentage of the influx in Nashville proper is from California, NY, NJ. Rural areas aren't growing in political influence.

Speaking statewide, Trump support might be a mile wide, but it's an inch deep - and let's not downplay the extent to which gerrymandering has helped to sustain that nutball Blackburn in her office. 2010 redistricting had her jettisoning considerable turf in Davidson County, which remains no friend to the GOP.

I harbor no illusions about this being an uphill battle, but I also recall that last time there was a Senate race, Roy Herron was all but conceding that not a thing could be done to keep Mark Clayton off the ballot. There hasn't exactly been what you would call a statewide presence and some of that was due to a lack of statewide effort.

Average Guy's picture

In the recent past, choices

In the recent past, choices between republicans and republican-lites have all gone to the republicans

Not sure that's the case any longer.

Now there are Trump Republicans and Republicans. And a good number of the latter hate Trump.

And Blackburn is a Trump Republican.

Primary aside, in the general, who gets the most swing votes against Trump?

A moderate or a Democrat?

M. L. Daugherty's picture

Mackler would be much better

Mackler would be much better than Bredesen in representing me and millions of people in Tennessee and the nation. I wish he could win. He does not stand a chance. It is not likely that Bredesen stands much of a chance either in today's Tennessee politics, but he is the only chance for Democrats. In a recent poll over 50 percent of Tn voters still give Trump their approval. Haslam is not running and Blackburn is a nut case. Bredesen would be the last Dem I would prefer but Bredesen is the only glimmer of hope Dems have, and it is a very dim glimmer. A Bredesen win could give Dems the 51 Senators needed to have a majority leader and that alone is reason to support Bredesen. Much can change in a year, but generic House Dem candidates are out polling Republicans by 11 points. Trump is destroying our country, maybe we can elect a Democratic Congress next year and put some control on his wrecking ball.

Bbeanster's picture

Steve, based on the

Steve, based on the photographic record, it appears that you've had a chance to talk to Mackler (maybe had breakfast with him?).
What did you think?

cafkia's picture

I liked him. We spoke for

I liked him. We spoke for 20+ minutes. There was a clear logic and reason behind his positions and he was not afraid to disagree with me. I would not call him a Berniecrat but I believe that he is someone that could attract Berniecrats (like me) and still be acceptable to the mainstream Dems - well, those that are still interested in occasionally winning a race.

Bbeanster's picture

I would not call him a

I would not call him a Berniecrat but I believe that he is someone that could attract Berniecrats (like me) and still be acceptable to the mainstream Dems - well, those that are still interested in occasionally winning a race.

That's exactly what I think, too.
He's a terrific candidate. TDP would be a bunch of boneheads to turn him away.

Andy Axel's picture


If the national/DSCC gets involved, all bets are off.

jcgrim's picture

Agreed !

Tell the DSCC to send money to Mackler & for Bredesen to get out of this race. When people are losing their health care they won't come out & vote for the Gov who cut TennCare to the bone.

My cousin in VA just texted me this info:

Lee Carter -Democrat- just beat the Republican VA House Majority leader. Carter ran on Medicare for all. THe Republican sent out 11,000 voters of Carter with Lenin & Marx.

jcgrim's picture

11,000 flyers

11,000 flyers (not voters)

Andy Axel's picture

As I was saying...

If this is accurate, Mackler's battle just went from uphill to vertical. He'll be spiked.

Treehouse's picture


I thought Betty's column was wonderful because it is exactly what the Dems need to do--support good candidates. Did you not notice the fresh faces and majority of women who ran and won in the City Council primary?

R. Neal's picture

I told the Mrs. that one

I told the Mrs. that one thing Bredesen has going for him is name recognition.

She said, yeah, how did that work out for Mike McWherter?

I also mentioned that people would have to google Mackler.

She said, yeah, and what is the TNDP doing about that?

Rachel's picture

Mike McWherter didn't serve

Mike McWherter didn't serve two terms as governor.

Look, I like Mackler too. But I reiterate that at this moment my priority is taking back the Senate so that somebody will put some brakes on Trump.

Come primary day, I will make my choice accordingly.

Mary the prez's picture

JAMES MACKLER, an extraordinary DEMOCRAT

Thanks, Betty, for your post about our Candidate for SENATOR ! He started his campaign back in April. And for those of you who never read papers, or are not online, here is MY Candidate's C-V: James Mackler is an Attorney in Nashville, with a wonderful family. He did resign his job after 9/11 and joined the Air Force...then in April, he resigned from his law firm to run...'full time' for Bob Corker's seat...before Corker decided he would not run again.
And I have been supporting him whenever I can...

Also, since y'all are apparently NOT interested in any other TENNESSEE candidates, here is a list of U.S. HOUSE Candidates and who they are running against:
U.S. House District 1: Dr. Marty Olsen(Phil Roe) Tri-Cities)
U.S. House District 2: Dr. Joshua Williams (was Duncan, now
a plethora of GOPs) Knoxville

U.S. House District 3: Dr. Danielle Mitchell (Chattanooga)
U.S. House District 4: Mariah Phillips (DesJarlais)

And James Mackler has name recognition across Tennessee for being better than any alternative to the TRUMP crowd !

Bbeanster's picture

It's starting to look like

It's starting to look like Marsha might have her hands full making it through the primary. That 60 Minutes/ Washington Post piece has hurt her more than I thought it would, judging from the way it's encouraged primary opposition.

cafkia's picture

OTOH establishment Dems

OTOH establishment Dems insisting on delving into the box of memories for a candidate they can support (and use to piss off everyone younger than 55) will probably be enough to get her elected.

Andy Axel's picture

The two things he has going for him

are name recognition and credibility.

Not really thrilled about the prospect either (let's recall that he hasn't declared) but it's not like TNDP has been doing a lot of statewide spade work thanks to at least 3 cycles of throwing in the towel. (This is where abdicating races to the likes of Mark Clayton and Charlie Brown can really bite you in the ass.)

cafkia's picture

Did you ever watch the

Did you ever watch the Jaywalking segments on the Jay Leno show? I think Kimmel does something similar as well. If you have ever watched those, please tell me why you think Bredesen would have greater name recognition than Mackler. Again, if your target market is 55 year olds and up, you are correct. But if you are trying to build something for the future, if you are trying to get 28 year olds involved, the chance approaches zero that Phil Bredesen will be any more recognizable than James Mackler by name or by image.

What is it that is inspiring the hesitancy about Mackler among Dems and the Liberal minded in general? Because having met and talked to the guy, I have no major issues with him. As a matter of fact, I liked him.

Andy Axel's picture

You're misinterpreting what I'm saying as hesitance.

Willfully so, I would think.

But as a pragmatist, I can see positives for Bredesen IF IT COMES TO THAT. Let's remember again, he hasn't declared.

And I'm no phrend of Phil. Still, anyone born after 1983 was eligible to vote for Bredesen in 2002, so there are still plenty of people around who're familiar with the guy. Let's not act like we're talking about Jim Sasser diving into the race here.....

Somebody's picture

I don't know about any

I don't know about any particular hesitancy about Mackler, other than the fact that he's pretty much an unknown, even among people who are trying to pay attention. I received a Mackler Mailer early on, and had to venture a guess which party he washing would nominate him. It's early yet, so there's still time. He just has his work cut out for him.

Andy Axel's picture


Bredesen is the only Democrat who's won a statewide election since 1990 (Ned Ray). If you only want to go by Senate races, you have to go back to 1988 (Harlan Matthews was never elected, bless his heart).

It's one of the genuine problems that resulted from 130 odd years of institutional party rule. When all of the state commissions and offices are appointed rather than elected, when power is afforded by patronage rather than suffrage, you wind up having a pretty shallow bench at times. There were some forward-thinking people out in the wilderness who thought better of direct election for some more constitutional officers, but that was before the end of the Democrats' run of 7 successive human generations. Not much talk of it now.

And Bredesen didn't do anyone any favors in that regard when he was governor. He did pretty well for himself; he was obviously motivated. But any Democrats who've had success in his wake did so in spite of him, rather than because of him. (I'm no fan of Karl Dean either, but I would certainly punch a chad for him rather than Diane Black if it comes to that.) His squabbling with Chip Forrester and Bill Freeman set the state party clock backwards at least a decade. I'm pretty sure he'd have a target painted on Mary Mancini's back if he does decide to run. Tons of reasons to be wary of Bredesen.

Perry Aubric's picture

Andy, Al Gore won all 95

Andy, Al Gore won all 95 counties in the U.S. Senate race of 1990. But you are right about Bredesen being the only statewide Democrat to win since then.

Bredesen's "squabbles" with Bill Freeman were not his doing Freeman was angry that Bredesen would not give him a blank check for development projects when he was mayor of Nashville and never forgave him for that. Forrester, ever a Freeman stooge, was not Bredesen's choice for state party chairman, and considering Forrester's abysmal failure in that role, Bredesen apparently was right.

I recall Bredesen endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton early in the primary season -- and prior to the Tennessee Primary. I also recall him assembling hundreds of Tennessee police, sheriffs and other law enforcement officers when he defied the General Assembly and vetoed one of their crazy gun bills. I also recall him commuting the death sentence of a woman who had killed her abusive spouse. We would do well with him as a Senator, and America would do well with a Democrat representing this state as well. I guess he wouldn't please the 100-percent-or-nothing purists that would rather lose with a candidate they always agree with than win with one they can only agree with 80 percent of the time, but I would be just fine with him as our nominee.

But I'll be surprised if he runs. He seemed to feel it was time for him to keep moving on and remaining out of politics when he first commented on this race. He has done his shift, and I am grateful to him for it. Mackler seems like an energetic and respectable candidate from the next generation.

Andy Axel's picture

Bredesen would not give him a

Bredesen would not give him a blank check for development projects when he was mayor of Nashville and never forgave him for that.

Oh, I'm not a fan of Freeman, for sure -- especially since his response was, in part, not only to vote in Republican primaries but also to give money to Van Hilleary and the RNC.

But if he wanted a blank check as a developer, he could have kept his powder dry for Karl Dean's administration (especially the 2nd term), with Megan Barry walking heel-to-toe in those footsteps. Still not sure what had him thinking that he'd make a great mayor, but thankfully he was just as politically incompetent as a candidate as he was as a party functionary.

I would be just fine with him as our nominee. But I'll be surprised if he runs.

That's the long and the short.

jbr's picture

Tennessee election statistics by year from 1991 to present

I don't see any age demographics in this data, but I didn't look very hard. Still interesting data.

Election Statistics by Year

LeftWingCracker's picture

Betty is on track here, for the most part

I just don't see how Bredesen gives anyone who has stayed out of the process a reason to get back in. I do think Mackler is a fresh face, but I would love to see him give the GOP more hell than he does. If we don't get younger people a reason to get out and vote, we are a permanent minority in Tennessee. Whomever the nominee is, they need to be a person who causes folks to rise up, and no, just opposing Trump is not enough. We need candidates who stand for issues and give people a reason to get off their butts and call, canvass and contribute as well as vote for our issues.

Personally, I would rather have Andy Berke, but I am not sure he is considering that now. Mackler needs to be more fierce and stop hiding the fact that he is running as a Democrat. If you're not proud to be a Democrat and what that stands for, you don't need to run as one.

Thanks for reading.

(Anonymous)'s picture

Too Far Gone

Personally I believe that Tennessee is too far gone demographically overall for any Dem to have a realistic chance, as far too many Midwestern Republicans have flooded the state within the last couple of decades just like they have since started to do in Kentucky. That is something that Gore and the party failed to acknowledge and counter back in 2000.

fischbobber's picture

Not to mention,

The Democrats bought a smaller tent and want progressives who fail the loyalty test out. The party is a train wreck right now.

Somebody's picture

Purity or loyalty?

Progressives who seek to enforce philosophical purity tests for Democratic Party candidates seem a bit silly when lamenting supposed “loyalty” tests that consist merely of asking progressives to vote for the party’s nominee in the general election, rather than withholding support and letting the Republican win.

fischbobber's picture

Bernie supporters

I speak for myself and an overwhelming number of Bernie supporters when I say we overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. Bernie supporters were not the reason Hillary lost. She ran an awful campaign. Even her husband advised her to reach out to the working class. She just didn't want to take advice from people tuned into the demographic she needed to win, and, as a consequence, she didn't get those votes. Bernie ran on issues. Clinton ran on perception and personality. Pensions, living wages, healthcare and education. To quote Carville," It's the economy stupid." Bill got it. Bernie got it. Hillary didn't.

We didn't withdraw support and you can't prove it statistically, because the evidence isn't there. Some folks were run off when their issues were abandoned, but that was a decision made by Hillary. Most people don't pay as close attention to issues as the folks on this forum. You have to inform the uninformed and be able and willing to change perceptions to win at a national level. Read what Braezille has to say about it. Funny thing . The DNC is making the same mistakes going into the next election cycle. You'd think we were Republicans trying to convince people that trickle down works.

R. Neal's picture

I actually agree with most of

I actually agree with most of this, except the "we overwhelmingly voted for Clinton" part.

fischbobber's picture

It's what the numbers suggest.

Let's not forget, thirty thousand well placed votes and Clinton wins.

What I find interesting though is how so many major drivers of dissension have just vanished. While there are still disagreements and some hard feelings, it's nothing like the divide between the convention and the election. Then I get out of the computer store today to take my computer in for a variety of issues. The tech listens and says, "You wouldn't by any chance be actively politically would you? Because this sounds like malware from political sites." So now I'm wondering if many of the wedge issues and stories that separated Democrats weren't just overhyped bullshit designed to set us in our own viewpoints and intentionally divide the Dems from within. Hacked in by players trying to rig the election.

Because, when you get right down to it, with the congress we have, there wasn't likely to be a whole lot of difference between the first term of a Clinton or Sanders. Our government moves slow.

Somebody's picture

Better late than never.

So now I'm wondering if many of the wedge issues and stories that separated Democrats weren't just overhyped bullshit designed to set us in our own viewpoints and intentionally divide the Dems from within. Hacked in by players trying to rig the election.

You've heard about the whole Russian misinformation campaign, right?

Russian ads for Sanders

Because, when you get right down to it, with the congress we have, there wasn't likely to be a whole lot of difference between the first term of a Clinton or Sanders.

Now you get it.

jbr's picture

The republican party has

The republican party has fallen and cannot get up. But the democratic party is behind it tripping, pulling, pushing each other and none of them can pass the republican party.

Knoxoasis's picture

With Republicans controlling

With Republicans controlling Congress and the presidency, appointing and confirming federal judges at a record pace,in complete control of 32 states vs. 5 for Democrats, and with Republicans having won every special election since the Presidential election, I'm wondering what your evidence is for the proposition that the Republican party has fallen and can't get up? Apart from Obama's election, things have been pretty grim for the Democrats since 2010.

I suppose we'll see in 2018.

R. Neal's picture

Virginia Democratic Centrists

Virginia Democratic Centrists Could Be Undermined by Progressives

The race has turned into a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, and progressives could cost the Democratic Party the state.


M. L. Daugherty's picture

I am probably just as left

I am probably just as left leaning as many so called progressives on many issues. I support a single payer healthcare system, I would like to see a $15 an hr federal minimum wage, I support drastic gun control measures, large increases in funding public education, eliminating school vouchers, fulfilling our legal and moral obligations to Native Americans, etc. Most of the policies I support are years or decades from being enacted. I am certainly not in agreement with many of Bredesen's actions as governor. However I think he is the only Dem that stands a chance in the Senate race, and I think his election would further the causes of Democrats across the country. A Democratic Senate is essential to stopping Trump's remaking our judicial system and enacting policies that would destroy our country. The all or nothing mentality of many progressives is detrimental to electing Democrats and effecting positive change. Many progressives that are very idealistic and support policies that are morally fair and just, have an arrogant attitude and they really cannot stand normal people. That arrogant attitude pushes away moderate/independent voters that otherwise support the Democratic platform and would help Democrats win elections. There is no doubt that most moderate/independent voters would support Democratic economic polices over the Republican policies that favor the elite. The only way to gain the support of these moderate/independent voters is to stop alienating them.

Rachel's picture

I'm still unsure about the

I'm still unsure about the Bredesen thing, but....

My b-I-l lives in California. He thinks that every Democratic candidate should be judged by the Bernie standard. Not progressive enough? B-I-l will refuse to support them, and feel righteous for doing so.

He needs to spend some time in a state like Tennessee. I would LOVE to see us elect progressives (and we can obviously do it at the local, URBAN level). But...

It may be that the way back for Dems in a state like Tennessee is to run Dems who are more moderate. I'll be interested to see how the climate shapes up over the nest few months.

But if Bredesen is what we need to defeat Marsha Blackburn, then I'll enthusiastically embrace Bredesen.

Andy Axel's picture

I would LOVE to see us elect

I would LOVE to see us elect progressives (and we can obviously do it at the local, URBAN level).

Cohen's about the only one in the state. Jim Cooper is a Blue Dog, and it remains to be seen how much longer he remains in office at that.

cafkia's picture

It strikes me as seriously

It strikes me as seriously odd that I do not know any Progressives that are as dogmatic as you describe. I certainly am not. Is it your opinion that we should simply shut up about our preferences once a DNC approved, milquetoast, DINO wrangles his or her way past the primary? Because that sounds like an all or nothing mentality on the part of the establishment.

Where are all of these ultra hardline Progressives? (Rachel's brother-in-law not withstanding) Why won't they talk to me?

M. L. Daugherty's picture

I would never suggest that

I would never suggest that you shut up and not advocate your political views. Too many folks stay silent and let inferior ideas/views get all the attention. Most of the time,the best cause, is the lost cause. I would encourage you to keep fighting for your beliefs and not concede one bit. When things do eventually improve, which they will, give yourself a pat on the back because your voice was finally heard. My point is that nobody with my views on politics could get elected in Tennessee, maybe in California, but not here. Realizing that fact, I should always advocate my liberal/progressive political views but make practical decisions when voting. Democracy means compromising. The political views that Senators Tester or McCaskill or Manchin have been forced to take because they are in red states are not my views. If the positions in their elections were more progressive, those states would have elected Republicans instead of them. Without some red state Dems we could not have the ACA or many other legislative actions that have helped people. Without compromise and Democratic and Republican votes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have happened. I am afraid that Democrats will lose a great opportunity next year and in 2020 if they are not more united. Progressives and more moderate voices in the party should fight for their beliefs. but not with a destructive all or nothing attitude. That kind of politics will alienate independent and Democratic voters and doom the party. Democrats need to look at the anti Trump sentiment shown in Tuesday's elections and capitalize on it.

Knoxgal's picture

Well said

Well said. Thank you. And Rachel, too.

R. Neal's picture

The point of this excerpt and

The point of this excerpt and link is that the pundit was wrong.

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