Between 1869 and 1970, Tennessee only elected one Republican to the U.S. Senate. That Democratic dominance was flipped on it's head in more recent decades. The last Democrat elected to represent Tennessee in the Senate was Al Gore (1990). Today, every statewide official in Tennessee is a Republican, from the governor on down. The state House has 73 Republicans and 26 Democrats and the state Senate has 28 Republicans and just 5 Democrats. There are 9 congressional seats. Seven of them are so red that Democrats can't even beat a predator doctor with an “R” next to his name who drugs and rapes his female patients (Scott DesJarlais). In most of the districts, when Democrats do run, they don't even get a third of the vote. In 2012 Romney beat Obama 1,453,097 (59%) to 953,043 (39%). Obama won 4 of the state's 95 counties: Davidson (Nashville), Shelby (Memphis), Hayward and Hardeman. Trump did even better than Romney had, taking 1,517,402 votes (61.1%) to Clinton's 867,110 (34.9%). She won only 3 counties, missing Hardeman.
This is one politically-backward blood-red state. But there are 2 deep blue congressional districts, basically Nashville, which is represented by an old school reactionary Blue Dog, Jim Cooper, who's more like a Republican than a national Democrat, and Memphis. The Memphis district, TN-09, is around 65% African-American. A quirk of fate– and a reaction against decades of brazen political corruption of the city's most prominent Democratic dynasty– made a liberal Jewish state senator, Steve Cohen, congressman in 2006. He's a living refutation of the DCCC dictum that only identity politics and Republican-lite candidates should determine who runs for office in the South.
Cohen's predecessor was Harold Ford, Jr, who followed his father, Harold Ford, Sr. Their machine is a classic example of big city corruption and was, in fact, built directly onto the foundations of that of notoriously corrupt Democratic power-broker Edward Hull “Boss” Crump, one of the reasons Tennesseans gave up, en masse, on the Democratic Party. Crump had befriended Ford's grandfather and enabled his uncle, state Senator, John Ford, who was indicted on bribery, extortion and witness tampering charges and served 4 years in prison on the bribery charge. Harold Sr. served in Congress for 11 terms but was indicted for bank fraud in the middle of his career and was a bit of a pariah in Congress after that. The father became a lobbyist and his son seamlessly took over the House seat and the political machine.
Ford, who has failed the bar exam and is not licensed to practice law anywhere, was as corrupt as the rest of his family but always manages to worm out of his criminal and ethical troubles.
He joined the Blue Dogs and voted for every bad piece of right-wing legislation that came down the pike– from enthusiastically backing bills to deregulate banks– and to pass a predatory bankruptcy bill that was terrible for Memphis residents and, of course, to gut Glass-Steagall– to Bush's push to invade Iraq. He was an obsessed homophobe, virulently anti-Choice and lectured liberal senators to filibuster Bush;'s far right Supreme Court nominees, who Ford thought were just dandy. His congressional career was notable for never being about his long-suffering constituents and always being about his own sordid career. He railed against progressives and progressive ideas and ran against Pelosi for Democratic leader, losing badly.
The Democratic establishment backed his Senate run in 2006, crippling the efforts of a more progressive state Senator who had a far better chance to win against Bob Corker. After he lost the Senate race he went to work for Fox News as the classic “Fox Democrat” and took a job as a golfed lobbyist and vice-chairman of Merrill-Lynch. Later he became a managing director at another crooked Wall Street firm, Morgan Stanley and became a regular on Morning Joe, playing his role as a make-believe Democrat, and threatening to run for various offices in New York and other northeastern states. He tamped down his ugly homophobia when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate in New York but was soon laughed out of the race.
Ford, more a TV personality than anything remotely useful to anyone but himself, is perfect for Trump. He's friends with Ivanka and Jared Kushner and with trusted Trump crony, Joe Scarborough. Tuesday the NY Times reported that Trump is considering him for Transportation Secretary. he certainly fits in with the criminal elements Trump has surrounded himself with.
Politically, Ford supports Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. His recent contributions have been to right-of-center Dems like Chris Matthews' lobbyist wife, Kathleen, Ro Khanna, Mary Landrieu, Bob Kerrey, Mark Warner, Mark Pryor… all the garbage candidates that have put the Democratic Party into a state of disrepute. The Democrat he was most often compared with when he was in office was Joe Lieberman. We started covering Ford at DWT in 2006– please, help yourself to an extra serving of turkey.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis