MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw said Saturday that her campaign fundraising is in full swing and she plans to visit all 95 Tennessee counties as she tries to flip the seat from Republican to Democrat.
Bradshaw won Thursday’s Democratic primary election in the contest to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring. She faces Bill Hagerty, a former ambassador to Japan who was endorsed by President Donald Trump in the GOP primary, in the Nov. 3 election.
The progressive’s win over a field of Democrats, including establishment choice James Mackler, has drawn national attention in a Senate race where the focus had been on a contentious GOP primary featuring Hagerty and Nashville doctor Manny Sethi. Bradshaw is the first Black woman nominated for statewide office by either major political party in Tennessee.
An environmental justice and labor issues activist and community organizer, Bradshaw is a single mother who has battled foreclosure and bankruptcy and struggled with student loan debt while working jobs with no health insurance. She has also become a respected community leader in Memphis.
She faces an uphill battle: Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994, and Trump remains popular enough in the red state that Hagerty mentioned the president at every turn.
Bradshaw held a Facebook event from the den of her Memphis home Saturday in which she asked for volunteers and donors to buttress her campaign. Bradshaw’s campaign relied heavily on social media, and on a network of community organizers across the state, to help her connect with voters.
For the primary, Bradshaw spent about $5,800 through March, the last time she reported any campaign finance activity, records show. Now she faces Hagerty, who spent $9.6 million through mid-July.
She said her campaign raised $110,000 in small donations within 24 hours and she plans to visit each of Tennessee’s 95 counties while obeying social distancing guidelines in place during the new coronavirus outbreak.
“The way a single mom spends a dollar is not going to be the same way a rich man spends a dollar,” she said. “It goes a whole lot longer and a whole lot further.”
Hagerty on Saturday attended a GOP unity event with state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, Gov. Bill Lee, and Alexander in Franklin, an affluent Nashville suburb.
Bradshaw said she plans to spend time in Shelby County early next week before heading to other locations later in the week. She encouraged supporters to help register voters.
“The whole strategy for this campaign is to make everyone feel like they’re talking directly to me and voicing their concern as a citizen, so we can come up with solutions, no matter what part of Tennessee you’re in,” she said.