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Republican Corker Wins Tenn. Senate Seat

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/ELN_TENNESSEE_SENATE?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2006-11-08-00-15-18 Nov 8, 12:41 AM EST Republican
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2006
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      Nov 8, 12:41 AM EST

      Republican Corker Wins Tenn. Senate Seat

      Associated Press Writer

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Republican Bob Corker beat
      Democratic Rep. Harold Ford for departing Senate
      Majority Leader Bill Frist's seat, giving the GOP a
      rare bit of good news after a tight race in which both
      candidates claimed the deeper Tennessee roots.

      Ford, who had hoped to become the first Southern black
      senator since Reconstruction, comes from a prominent
      political family that Corker had attempted to use
      against him.

      Ford often said that his campaign would transcend the
      tired racial politics of Tennessee's past, and Corker,
      a former Chattanooga mayor, insisted race had nothing
      to do with the campaign.

      The issue, however, was always an undercurrent,
      especially when an ad produced by the Republican
      National Committee hit the airwaves. A portion of it
      shows a white woman with blonde hair and bare
      shoulders who looks into the camera and whispers,
      "Harold, call me," and winks. Critics said it made an
      implicit appeal to deep-seated racial fears about
      black men and white women; the RNC denied it had any
      racial subtext, but Corker called the ad tacky and
      said it should stop running.

      Ford, a Memphis congressman, had been the Democratic
      hope to make inroads for a party on the outs in the
      South. His need to appeal to white voters was
      especially great because Tennessee has a smaller black
      population (about 17 percent) than other Southern

      Corker, 54, has a low-key style that was a contrast to
      Ford's more charismatic presence. The Republican tried
      to defuse his lesser celebrity by acknowledging Ford's
      superior looks and speaking skills while selling
      voters on his own experience as a business executive,
      his problem-solving skills and his ability to "bring
      people together."

      Ford, 36, sought to shape the election as a referendum
      on President Bush and Republican policies of the past
      six years. He has strongly criticized how the
      president has handled the war in Iraq.

      "I can't imagine how they could have messed it up
      more," he said.

      Corker painted Ford as a Washington insider, a liberal
      politician trying to persuade voters he's really a
      conservative. He regularly compared Ford to Sens. John
      Kerry and Edward Kennedy, both Massachusetts

      "I'm someone who's been right here in Tennessee, who's
      lived a Tennessee life and I want to take those
      Tennessee values to Washington," Corker said on the

      Ford, who grew up in Washington because his father was
      a congressman, shot back that Corker wasn't even born
      in Tennessee. "He's a Gamecock" from South Carolina,
      Ford said. (Corker moved to Tennessee when he was 11.)

      And Ford bristled at the suggestion that he's more
      style than substance.

      "I didn't know being able to express yourself clearly
      was a detriment in politics," he told a Chattanooga
      radio station.
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