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November 06, 2002

DEMOCRATS LOOKING FOR A MODEL could do worse than to study Phil Bredesen's campaign. Bredesen looked like a loser early on -- having been beaten by the not-very-impressive Don Sundquist in 1994. The Republican, Van Hilleary, was in a strong position and had a good campaign organization. But Bredesen won convincingly in a state that is trending Republican. He even pulled a lot of Republican votes out of East Tennessee, which should have been a Hilleary stronghold.

Bredesen is pro-choice, and generally seen as less anti-tax than Hilleary. He ran as a strongly pro-gun candidate, attending NRA events -- I even saw a flyer for a charity skeet-shoot between him and Hilleary. And (though of course it's easier to do as a gubernatorial candidate) he kept a strong separation between himself and the Barbara Boxer wing of the Democratic Party.