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United States Senate election in Tennessee, 2006


United States Senate election in Tennessee, 2006

United States Senate election in Tennessee, 2006

November 7, 2006

Nominee Bob Corker Harold Ford, Jr.
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 929,911 879,976
Percentage 50.71% 47.99%

County Results

Senator before election

Bill Frist

Elected Senator

Bob Corker

The 2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee was held on November 7, 2006. The election winner, Bob Corker, served his term between January 3, 2007 and January 3, 2013. Corker replaced Republican Bill Frist in the Senate, who retired upon the end of his second term in 2007. Corker was the Republican nominee, and the Democratic nominee was Harold Ford, Jr.. The race between Ford and Corker was one of the most competitive Senate races of 2006, with Corker winning the race by less than three percent of the vote. Corker was the only non-incumbent Republican to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2006. Since 1994, the Republican Party has held both of Tennessee's Senate seats.


  • Democratic primary 1
    • Candidates 1.1
    • Campaign 1.2
    • Results 1.3
  • Republican primary 2
    • Candidates 2.1
    • Campaign 2.2
    • Debates 2.3
    • Polling 2.4
    • Results 2.5
  • General election 3
    • Candidates 3.1
      • Major 3.1.1
      • Minor 3.1.2
    • Campaign 3.2
    • Debates 3.3
    • Controversy 3.4
    • Endorsements 3.5
    • Fundraising 3.6
    • Polling 3.7
    • Results 3.8
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Democratic primary



Ford is known nationally for his keynote address at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California, and for a challenge to Nancy Pelosi for leadership of the House Democrats. Kurita, a six-term state Senator from Clarksville, Tennessee dropped out of the race in early April 2006. No official reason was given, but Ford enjoyed substantial support from Democratic leaders in Washington and Nashville and held a substantial lead in fundraising.


Ford won the Democratic nomination by a wide margin in the primary.[1]

Republican primary



Election winner Bob Corker.

Only 11 percent of Tennesseans knew who Corker was when he began running for the Senate race.[2] All three have run statewide campaigns in the past, albeit unsuccessful ones: Bryant for the 2002 Republican Senate nomination, losing to Lamar Alexander; Corker for the U.S. Senate in 1994, losing to Frist in the Republican primary; and Hilleary for Tennessee Governor in 2002, losing to Democrat Phil Bredesen.


The three Republican candidates met for a debate at the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville on June 29, 2006. All three candidates expressed skepticism regarding global warming and recent publication of scientific consensus on the issue, supported continued American involvement in Iraq, opposed income tax increases, and "showed varying degrees of interest in replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax," prompting Corker to state in his closing statement "[t]here's not any difference, that I can tell, on the issues."[3]


Source Date Hilleary Bryant Corker Other Undecided
SurveyUSA August 2, 2006 20% 31% 45% 1% 3%
SurveyUSA July 24, 2006 15% 29% 49% 3% 4%
Mason-Dixon/Chattanooga Times Free Press July 23, 2006 22% 23% 39% 16%
University of Tennessee July 20, 2006 15% 26% 37% 4% 17%
SurveyUSA May 23, 2006 28% 23% 38% 8%
SurveyUSA May 16, 2006 40% 28% 23% 9%
City Paper/Supertalk 99.7 WTN May 9, 2006 34% 23% 19% 24%


Corker won the nomination by obtaining 48% of the primary vote to Bryant's 34% and Hilleary's 17%.[1]

General election






Harold Ford Jr. on the campaign trail

Not long after Corker's primary victory was assured, Ford, at a rally of his supporters attended by Bill Clinton, challenged Corker to seven televised debates across the state. In response, Corker said he will debate Ford but did not agree to Ford's request of seven debates.[1] Both of Corker's primary opponents endorsed Corker immediately after they conceded the race.[1]

On August 8, 2006, the Tennessee Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Corker for allegedly violating campaign financial disclosure rules.[8]

On August 25, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Corker had received a subpoena regarding an environmental lawsuit filed three years ago. The lawsuit centers on the actions Corker took as mayor to allegedly demolish a conservation site to build a road that leads to a Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Corker was scheduled to testify on October 18,[9] but the case was settled on October 13.[10]

On October 1, Corker replaced his campaign manager.[11]

Before a Corker press conference in Memphis on October 20, Ford approached Corker in a parking lot and confronted his opponent about Iraq in front of local news cameras, pointing out that some of Corker's fellow Republicans are changing their minds on the war and wanting to debate him about the issue. In response, Corker said, "I came to talk about ethics, and I have a press conference. And I think it's a true sign of desperation that you would pull your bus up when I'm having a press conference." Ford replied that he could never find Corker. Corker then walked away to his press conference.[12]

On November 2, Nielsen Monitor Plus indicated that the Corker campaign had purchased more television advertising than any other Senate candidate in the country through October 15.[13]


Corker and Ford participated in a televised debate in Memphis on October 7, in Chattanooga on October 10, and in Nashville on October 28.[14]

In the October 7, 2006 debate in Memphis, the candidates covered a wide range of issues, including immigration, Iraq, cutting health care costs, abortion, and Social Security.[15] Commenting on Ford's political family, Corker said, "I think it's evident there's been a Ford in this (9th District congressional district) seat for 32 years, and if you look at the number of Fords that are on the ballot—especially I think the most recent one, I know it concerns a lot of people right here in Memphis." Ford responded, "I don't know why Mr. Corker keeps bringing up my family. . . . It's you and I running for the Senate. It's our ideas, our plans to make the future better for everybody. Let's stick to you and I. And if you come up with a recipe to pick family, say it. Otherwise be quiet and let's run for the Senate."[15]

The October 10 Chattanooga debate covered many of the same issues, with Corker again attempting to make Ford's family an issue and Ford claiming that Corker would be merely a "rubber stamp" for the Bush administration and Republican Party in the Senate.[16]


"Harold, call me," says a blonde woman in RNC's controversial attack ad against Ford.

A particularly negative ad titled "Who Hasn't?" sponsored by the Republican National Committee ("RNC") that aired during the third and fourth weeks of October gained national attention and condemnation from both Ford and Corker. The ad portrayed a scantily clad white woman (Johanna Goldsmith) acting as a Playboy bunny who "met Harold at the Playboy party" and invites Ford to "call me".[17][18]

Responding to questions about the ad, a Ford spokesperson said that Ford went to a 2005 Playboy-sponsored Super Bowl party that was attended by more than 3,000 people,[19] and Ford himself said that he likes "football and girls" and makes no apology for either.[20]

The NAACP described the ad as "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women", and a former Republican Senator called it "a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.[21] Corker condemned the RNC ad, calling it "tacky" and stating that his campaign has asked to have it pulled.[18] The RNC, however, continued to endorse the ad, said it had no plans to stop airing it, and dismissed charges of racism, saying it "wouldn't even entertain the premise" that the ad was racist.[17][18] In an October 24 interview with Tim Russert, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman said that he thought the ad was "fair" and that he did not have the authority to pull it.[22]

The ad was also denounced by Canada's ambassador to the United States, Michael Wilson, and in the Parliament of Canada by MP Omar Alghabra. The ad became an issue in Canada because of an actor's statement in the advertisement, "Canada can take care of North Korea. They’re not busy." Alghabra, in the House of Commons, responded, "Is this what Canadians should be expecting as the outcome of cozying up to Mr. Bush by the prime minister and his Conservatives?"[23]

On October 25, Mehlman announced that the ad was "down now" during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.[24] In its place, Tennessee television stations ran a different RNC ad.[25]


Ford received endorsements from, among others, The Tennessean (Nashville's predominant daily newspaper),[26] The Commercial Appeal (Memphis's predominant daily newspaper),[27] the Jackson Sun (Jackson's predominant daily newspaper),[28] the Bristol Herald Courier,[29] Metro Pulse (Knoxville),[30] the Professional Firefighters Association of Tennessee, and the Tennessee State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.[31]

Corker was endorsed by, among others, the National Rifle Association,[32] the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the United States Chamber of Commerce, Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, Lebanon Democrat, Kingsport Times News, Nashville City Paper, the National Federation of Independent Businesses,[33] and the National Right to Life Committee,[34] though the Tennessee Right to Life Committee has refused to endorse Corker, claiming he is a "pro-abortion" politician.[35]

Both Corker and Ford were endorsed by the Chattanooga Times Free Press (Chattanooga's predominant daily newspaper still maintains two separate editorial pages left over from when its two daily newspapers merged): Ford by The Times editors,[36] and Corker by Free Press editors.[37]


Through October 18, 2006, Corker had raised more money than Ford and had also spent more, according to the candidates' most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Corker tapped into his personal fortune to help fund his campaign, loaning his campaign a total of $4.1 million.[38] Corker loaned $2 million of this amount on Wednesday, November 1, less than a week before the election, triggering the "millionaire's amendment" of the 2002 Campaign Reform Act and allowing Ford to seek $12,600 from individual donors instead of $2,100, the normal limit, for the final days of the campaign.[38]

President Bush attended two fund raiser dinners on behalf of the Corker campaign in Nashville and Memphis which raised $2.6 million for Corker's campaign by charging over $2,000 a plate. Former President Bill Clinton attended a rally for the Ford campaign in Nashville that raised about $1 million.[39]

None of the third party candidates filed reports with the FEC.

Candidate Funds Raised Cash On-Hand
Bob Corker (R)[40] $13,145,585 $973,171
Harold Ford (D)[41] $9,889,498 $356,175


In the general election, polls showed Corker with a statistically insignificant lead in the week before the election.

Source Date Ford Jr. (D) Corker (R)
OnPoint Polling and Research November 6, 2006 47% 48%
Rasmussen November 5, 2006 47% 51%
Survey USA November 5, 2006 46% 51%
USA Today/Gallup November 4, 2006 46% 49%
Rasmussen November 4, 2006 45% 53%
Hamilton Beattie (D) November 3, 2006 46% 40%
Reuters/Zogby November 2, 2006 43% 53%
Rasmussen November 2, 2006 45% 53%
Rasmussen November 1, 2006 47% 49%
Mason-Dixon November 1, 2006 38% 50%
Zogby/Wall Street Journal October 31, 2006 48% 49%
CNN October 31, 2006 45% 47%
CNN October 31, 2006 44% 52%
Benenson Strategy Group (D) October 30, 2006 48% 43%
Hamilton Beattie (D) October 26, 2006 47% 45%
SurveyUSA October 25, 2006 48% 48%
Rasmussen October 24, 2006 46% 47%
Mason-Dixon/MSNBC-McClatchy October 24, 2006 43% 45%
Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg October 24, 2006 44% 49%
Zogby/Wall Street Journal October 19, 2006 42% 49%
Rasmussen October 13, 2006 48% 46%
Hamilton Beattie (D) October 10, 2006 51% 44%
SurveyUSA October 10, 2006 46% 48%
USA Today/Gallup (LV) October 5, 2006 50% 45%
USA Today/Gallup (RV) October 5, 2006 46% 36%
Reuters/Zogby October 5, 2006 40% 40%
Rasmussen October 1, 2006 48% 43%
Middle Tennessee State University September 30, 2006 42% 43%
Mason-Dixon September 27, 2006 43% 42%
Zogby/WSJ September 25, 2006 42% 48%
Benenson Strategy Group (D) September 23, 2006 45% 39%
SurveyUSA September 11, 2006 48% 45%
Zogby/WSJ September 11, 2006 43% 45%
Rasmussen September 5, 2006 44% 45%
Zogby/WSJ August 28, 2006 44% 48%
Benenson Strategy Group (D) August 21, 2006 44% 42%
Rasmussen August 10, 2006 42% 48%
Rasmussen July 26, 2006 37% 49%
Mason-Dixon July 24, 2006 36% 49%
Zogby/WSJ July 24, 2006 44% 43%
University of Tennessee July 20, 2006 35% 42%
Zogby/WSJ June 21, 2006 41% 42%
Zogby June 13, 2006 42% 46%
Rasmussen May 7, 2006 39% 43%
Rasmussen March 6, 2006 35% 39%
Rasmussen January 30, 2006 40% 42%
Rasmussen December 20, 2005 42% 36%
Global Strategy Group October 31, 2005 39% 36%
Global Strategy Group March 2005 39% 34%


2006 United States Senate election, Tennessee[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Bob Corker 929,911 50.7 -14.4
Democratic Harold Ford, Jr. 879,976 48.0 +15.8
Independent Ed Choate 10,831 0.6 n/a
Independent David "None of the Above" Gatchell 3,746 0.2 n/a
Independent Emory "Bo" Heyward 3,580 0.2 n/a
Independent H. Gary Keplinger 3,033 0.2 n/a
Majority 49,935 2.7
Turnout 1,833,693
Republican hold Swing -15.1

See also


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Index of /
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^
  10. ^ [4]
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^
  13. ^ [6]
  14. ^ [7]
  15. ^ a b [8]
  16. ^ [9]
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ a b c
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "[10]
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ [11]
  27. ^ [12]
  28. ^ [13]
  29. ^ [14]
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ [15]
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b [16]
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^

External links

  • Bob Corker's Campaign Site
  • Harold Ford, Jr.'s Campaign Site
  • Democrats' Senate Hopes May Ride on Tennessee, by Robin Toner, New York Times, May 31, 2006
  • Dems pin hopes on candidate who's no liberal, by Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, September 17, 2006
  • Senate race is looming large, by Rebecca Ferrar, Knoxville News-Sentinel, September 24, 2006
  • New Hope for Democrats in Bid for Senate, by Robin Toner, New York Times, September 28, 2006
  • A photo finish in Corker-Ford race?, by Richard Locker, The Commercial Appeal, October 1, 2006
  • Bob Corker's questionnaire responses from The Commercial Appeal
  • Harold Ford Jr's questionnaire responses from The Commercial Appeal
Preceded by
Lamar Alexander (R)
United States Senate election in Tennessee
Bob Corker (R)
Succeeded by
Lamar Alexander (R)
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