Phil Bredesen believes he knows where he is going because of where he has been.
Wanting to continue to serve Tennessee as he had while governor yet now in a different capacity, Bredesen knows the high stakes of the race for the U.S. Senate. He has served Tennesseans in several different capacities through the years since he and his wife Andrea Conte moved to the Volunteer State in 1975.
The 74-year-old originally hails from rural Shortsville, New York, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University. His experience in business, public service, nonprofits and politics as well managing city and state affairs is what emboldens the former governor in his latest quest.
“I am trying to look forward, but obviously I have a history as governor, and I think that sometimes the best predictor of what someone is going to do is what they have done,” added Bredesen in a July interview with WKRN Nashville.
As governor from 2003 to 2011, Bredesen balanced eight consecutive budgets, opposed a state income tax, kept the state government afloat during the Great Recession, reined in Medicare costs by instilling full enrollment for children and pursuing disease-management initiatives in TennCare, pressed for land and water conservation initiatives and advocated education reforms.
When Bredesen was elected governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, he was the first governor in Tennessee history to win all 95 counties thanks to his bipartisan style.
Also during his time as governor, Tennessee created more than 200,000 new jobs and generated more than $34 billion in new business investments.
Before his time as governor, Bredesen served as mayor of Nashville from 1991 to 1999, where he worked with businesses, citizens and community leaders to make Nashville’s economy boom. Dozens of schools were built, two professional teams made Nashville their home and downtown redevelopment as well as expanded parks happened during Bredesen’s mayoral tutelage.
As a businessman, Bredesen founded HealthAmerica Corp., an insurance company.
Bredesen’s charitable activities include being a member of Nashville Table, a nonprofit group that collects unused food from local restaurants and distributes it to the city’s homeless population; Land Trust for Tennessee, a nonprofit group that works statewide to preserve open space and traditional family farms.
Bredesen is an avid outdoorsman, licensed pilot and painter by hobby.
Because current U.S. Senator Bob Corker is not seeking re-election, Bredesen is running on the Democratic ticket against Republican Marsha Blackburn.
“I love the people of our state of Tennessee,” Bredesen states on his website. We need and deserve something better than we’re getting from Washington. And we need an deserve a senator who can make that happen.”
The former governor has been ramping up his campaign to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate and has been vocal on recent topics such as the trade tariffs and farmer bailouts.
Notably, Bredesen said in July that the tariffs could affect jobs for Tennessee autoworkers and make cars more expensive and that he would be the voice to repeal those tariffs that also affect Tennessee farmers and even whiskey makers. In light of the recent farmer bailouts, Bredesen did not mince words on Twitter.
“Glad the administration received the message – our farmers are hurting and need relief. As always, the instinct from DC is to pull out the credit card and not worry about the bill. Our farmers don’t want handouts and taxpayers don’t want more debt. Simple solution: end the tariffs.”
Bredesen and Blackburn face off on in a debate in Knoxville on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central.