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2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee

← 2000 November 7, 2006 2012 →
Bobcorker (cropped).jpg
Harold Ford, Congressional photo portrait.jpg
Nominee Bob Corker Harold Ford Jr.
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 929,911 879,976
Percentage 50.7% 48.0%

Tennessee Senate Election Results by County, 2006.svg
County results
Corker:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%
Ford:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. senator before election

Bill Frist

Elected U.S. Senator

Bob Corker

The 2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee was held November 7, 2006. Incumbent Republican Senator Bill Frist, the Majority Leader, retired after two terms in office. The open seat was won by Republican nominee Bob Corker, who defeated Democratic nominee 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 U.S. Senate seats.

This election is also notable for being the last time Grundy County has voted for the Democratic candidate in a statewide election.

Democratic primary



Ford is known nationally for his keynote address at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, 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.


Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Harold Ford Jr. 333,789 79.10%
Democratic Gary Gene Davis 41,802 9.91%
Democratic John Jay Hooker 27,175 6.44%
Democratic Charles Smith 14,724 3.49%
Democratic Alvin Strauss 4,410 1.05%
Total votes 421,900 100

Republican primary



Election winner Bob Corker.
Election winner Bob Corker.

Only 11 percent of Tennesseans knew who Corker was when he began running for the Senate race.[1] 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."[2]


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


Republican primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bob Corker 231,541 48.13%
Republican Ed Bryant 161,189 33.50%
Republican Van Hilleary 83,078 17.27%
Republican Tate Harrison 5,309 1.10%
Total votes 481,117 100

General election




  • Ed Choate (I)[3]
  • Gary Keplinger (I)[4]
  • Bo Heyward (I)
  • Chris Lugo (G), peace activist
  • David "None of the Above" Gatchell (I)[5]



Harold Ford Jr. on the campaign trail
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.[7] Both of Corker's primary opponents endorsed Corker immediately after they conceded the race.[7]

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]


3 debates were held between Corker and Ford. They 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]

The final debate took place on October 28, in Nashville and mostly covered the economy.


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


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
Green Chris Lugo 2,589 0.1 n/a
Majority 49,935 2.7
Turnout 1,833,693
Republican hold Swing -15.1

See also


  1. ^ "Haslam Has $2 Million In The Bank For Governor Bid". The Chattanoogan. March 9, 2009. Archived from the original on March 13, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
  2. ^ "Knox News". Retrieved July 11, 2006.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Ed Choate for Senate - Home". Archived from the original on October 31, 2006.
  4. ^ "Unofficial U.S. Senate Candidates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 12, 2006.
  5. ^ "None Of The Above - Tennessee". Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  6. ^ "Index of /". Archived from the original on July 6, 2006. Retrieved July 17, 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Corker wins; Ford challenges him to debates". August 3, 2006. Archived from the original on August 18, 2006.
  8. ^ "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2006.
  9. ^ "Corker receives subpoena in environmental lawsuit". Archived from the original on August 31, 2006.
  10. ^ "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2006.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 4, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Ford Jr. confronts Corker on Memphis parking lot about Iraq". Archived from the original on October 26, 2006.
  13. ^ "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2006.
  14. ^ "Memphis Commercial Appeal - Memphis' Source for News and Information: Politics". Archived from the original on July 9, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2006.
  15. ^ a b "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2006.
  16. ^ "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2006.
  17. ^ a b "Republican TV ad being denounced as racially divisive". Archived from the original on November 3, 2006.
  18. ^ a b c "Ford's move on Corker gets national attention". Archived from the original on October 25, 2006.
  19. ^ Toner, Robin (October 26, 2006). "GOP pulls ad versus black candidate". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  20. ^ "Harold Ford Jr. on His Playboy Party". YouTube. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  21. ^ ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 3, 2006. Retrieved October 24, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Mehlman: Controversial Ford attack ad is 'fair'". NBC News. October 24, 2006. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  23. ^ Austen, Ian (October 27, 2006). "Republican Attack Ad Offends Canada". The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  24. ^ "". CNN. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  25. ^ O'Donnell, Norah (October 25, 2006). "GOP retires 'Playboy' ad in Tennessee". NBC News. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
  28. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ Cagle, Frank. "Ford Is Your Answer". Archived from the original on October 17, 2006.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 19, 2006. Retrieved October 17, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ "NRA endorses Corker; Ford chair displeased". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006.
  33. ^ "With Polls Showing Strong Corker Momentum, Corker Also Leads in Media and Organizational Endorsements". Archived from the original on November 9, 2006.
  34. ^ "National Right to Life group wants Corker in Senate". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 5, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ "For the Senate: Harold Ford". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Archived from the original on June 25, 2007.
  37. ^ "Elect Bob Corker U.S. senator". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Archived from the original on June 25, 2007.
  38. ^ a b "Commercial Appeal : Memphis News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
  39. ^ Abdullah, Halimah. "President helps GOP pal in Ford's backyard". Archived from the original on October 5, 2006.
  40. ^ "FEC Candidate 2005/2006 Summary Reports: Corker, Robert P Jr". Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  41. ^ "FEC Candidate 2005/2006 Summary Reports: Ford, Harold Jr". Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  42. ^

External links

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