Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., named Tennessee as one of nine battleground states he believes will decide control of the Senate in November's midterm elections.
In an interview with The Washington Post Thursday, McConnell said that control of the Senate is "absolutely" in play, and listed Tennessee, along with Arizona, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida as states where the biggest battles will be.
Republicans are defending a 51-49 advantage.
In September, Sen. Bob Corker announced he would not seek re-election. U.S. Rep Marsha Blackburn is the leading Republican candidate, and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen is the leading Democrat.
A Middle Tennessee State University poll released in early April showed Bredesen with a 10-point advantage over Blackburn. Other polls have showed a narrower edge for Bredesen and others show Blackburn up.
Another poll, released Thursday, showed independent voters have a significantly more positive view of Bredesen, and a majority of Republicans says they have a favorable view of him.
Even Corker has praised Bredesen. In April, he told reporters in Washington "I think he's got real appeal — I don't think it, I know it."
Corker has donated money to Blackburn's campaign and has said he will support the GOP nominee but won't actively campaign against Bredesen.
The Washington Post reported McConnell was not happy with those remarks:
"McConnell had to pull aside rogue senators over their occasional defiance twice in the last two days. He warned one — Bob Corker — in a private conversation that his comments risked hurting the party’s ability to hold its majority in November’s midterm elections."
The primary is Aug. 2 in Tennessee and the general election will be held on Nov. 6.