NBC News projected Republican Marsha Blackburn to win the U.S. Senate race over Phil Bredesen early in the evening, and at 10 p.m., she took the stage to declare victory.

Blackburn thanked the Volunteer State for allowing her to be the first woman elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

She thanked all the volunteers and staff involved in her campaign and thanked Jim Haslam and Steve Smith for leadership.

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She also extended an extra thanks to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their support of her campaign.

“To Phil Bredesen and his team, I want to congratulate them on a hard fought race,” she said.

She said she hopes Bredesen supporters will know her door is open to work on important issues

"Now you don't have to worry if you're going to call me congressman or congresswoman or congresslady. Senator will do," Blackburn said.

A disappointed Bredesen spoke to his supporters shortly after Blackburn declared victory.

“I applied for this job and got a rejection letter,” he said, but he tried to reassure the crowd.

"I've had a wonderful time in politics," he said. “I really want the young people to know just how important it is that they never give up.”

He told them it took him four political campaigns before he finally won.

The crowd chanted "We love Phil" as he left the stage.

ORIGINAL STORY:

After U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's bombshell retirement announcement late last year, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen effectively cleared the field of anyone interested in the race.

In the 13 months since Corker's decision, the Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively, have made their cases to voters, filling the airwaves, social media feeds, and mailboxes with campaign material and attack ads.

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The race, which has drawn national interest as Republicans look to defend their 51-49 majority in the Senate, has quickly become the most expensive race in Tennessee history.

Blackburn, who has aligned herself closely with President Donald Trump, has championed national issues ranging from her opposition to the Affordable Care Act to immigration reform while using partisan rhetoric to vie for the seat. She spent the final day before the election campaigning in East Tennessee, starting in Kingsport, attending a rally in Maryville, and will end the day in Cookeville and Smyrna. She will be in Nashville on election night.

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Bredesen has taken a more moderate, issues-based approach, while attempting to localize the race and suggest he will move away from partisan politics in favor of working on big ideas. Bredesen spent the day before the election on a whirlwind tour across the state, flying from Johnson City to Knoxville, then to Jackon and Memphis before ending the evening in Nashville. Bredesen cast his ballot in Nashville on Tuesday and will watch the results with his supporters.

Joel Ebert, The Tennessean, contributed to this article