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Marsha Blackburn, 'Politically Incorrect And Proud Of It,' Runs For Senate In Tenn.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., announced on Tuesday she will run for Senate in Tennessee — and took a shot at the current Republican leadership in her announcement video.

Calling the place she wants to work "totally dysfunctional" and "enough to drive you nuts," Blackburn touts that she is a "hard core, card-carrying Tennessee conservative. I'm politically incorrect and proud of it."

"So, let me just say it like it is: The fact that our Republican majority in the U.S. Senate can't overturn Obamacare, or will not overturn Obamacare — it's a disgrace," the eight-term congresswoman continues. "Too many Senate Republicans act like Democrats — or worse. And that's what we have to change."

Blackburn is a frequent cable news guest and had a prime-time speaking slot at the 2016 Republican National Convention. She has long been a loyal conservative foot soldier and ticks off in her video the ways she would stand with President Trump — repealing the Affordable Care Act, backing the president's immigration ban and his border wall and his feud with the NFL over kneeling during the national anthem.

"I know the left calls me a wing nut, or a knuckle-dragging conservative. And you know what? I say that's all right, bring it on," Blackburn says.

Blackburn is running to succeed Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who announced his retirement in September. And with Blackburn's announcement video — and her tenure already in Congress — it's clear she would be a far more hard-right senator than the incumbent. Corker is known as a conservative lawmaker but one who is willing to work across the aisle, and despite backing Trump during the campaign, the Tennessee senator has since voiced concerns about the president and his administration.

Blackburn — who would be the Volunteer State's first-ever female senator if elected — got a much clearer path to the nomination when Gov. Bill Haslam announced he won't seek Corker's seat. That could have set up quite the battle between the establishment governor and the Tea Party-aligned Blackburn. Former NFL quarterback and University of Tennessee star Peyton Manning has also passed on a bid.

Several other GOP candidates could still enter the race, but whoever wins the Republican nomination will be heavily favored in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 1990.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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