MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee's Senate race between Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen is heating up.
The high stakes campaign is putting Mid-South voters at the center of the political universe until November's election.
The race could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, and U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) finds himself in the middle of it.
Audio obtained by The Huffington Post is making the national political rounds.
In it, you hear Cohen at a breakfast in Memphis last month for Phil Bredesen, saying Blackburn would jump off the Harahan Bridge in Downtown Memphis if President Donald Trump told her to.
Last month The Tennessean in Nashville published a report with secretly taped audio of one of Blackburn's campaign strategists saying a Bredesen loss would be "death by 10,000 cuts."
Political analyst Mike Nelson said both instances have the potential to impact voters.
"You've got to really guard your words because how they're repeated is going to determine how people perceive them," Nelson said.
Friday, new political ads hit the airwaves.
"It's going to be nonstop from now until election day--nonstop political campaigning," Nelson said. "This race will easily cost $50 million. It would not be out of the question for it to end up costing $100 million.
A spokesperson for Blackburn released the following statement on Cohen's comments:
“The continuous hate and vitriol coming from Tennessee Democrats, coupled with Phil Bredesen’s silence, is shameful. This violent rhetoric isn’t politics as usual, and Mr. Bredesen’s silence on these matters is becoming a pattern. If he won’t stand up to do the right thing at a prayer breakfast at home in Tennessee, he cannot be trusted to do the right thing in Washington. As much as Mr. Bredesen and his Democratic party may personally dislike it, Tennesseans overwhelmingly elected President Trump, and Marsha Blackburn will stand with him and with Tennesseans to do the right thing.”
Cohen responded to the audio by saying the phrase was a joke and those at the event knew that.
“It was a joke. Everyone at the event laughed because they understood that. The reporter who was not at the event thought he had a story but it’s really not one. Having served in the state senate with Representative Blackburn I would not wish her or anyone else to fall to harm. Tennessee has a long history of independent thinking senators who have stood up against corruption. Recently both Senator Bob Corker and former Senator Bill Frist have spoken out about the culture of corruption surrounding the president. Tennessee does not need a senator who is a Trump rubber stamp.”
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