Bryant Circles State

Bryant.bmpTennessee conservative frontrunner Ed Bryant officially kicked off his campaign with a whirlwind tour of the state Thursday, focusing on his conservative philosophy and support.  Bryant has dominated the other conservative in the race, 2002 Gubernatorial nominee Van Hilleary, in the race for endorsements, picking up the support of Tennessee Right to Life, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Women for America, and Senators Brownback, Coburn, and Ensign, among others.  He has also outraised Hilleary, but trails Frist flopper Bob Corker in cash on hand by a wide margin.

During his tour, Bryant touted his conservative credentials, highlighting in particular his support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  He also took a swipe at Corker for missing a debate earlier this week.  Bryant’s whirlwind tour shows that he has the energy necessary to take this race to Harold Ford and show voters the clear differences between himself and the candidate of Ted Kennedy, something that Bob Corker would have a much more difficult time doing.

The big question is not who will win the primary, but why Van Hilleary insists on remaining in the race.  In doing so, he serves only to divide conservatives, potentially handing the primary to Bob Corker, the weakest general election candidate.  It is increasingly clear that the viable primary candidates are Ed Bryant and Bob Corker, and that Hilleary can only play the role of spoiler.  This is especially perplexing when one considers that Hilleary ran for Governor four years ago while Bryant ran for Senate.  Now, with an incumbent Democrat Governor lacking a Republican challenger, Hilleary is instead running for a Senate seat that moves further and further out of his reach.  With two months left before the filing deadline, one can only hope that Hilleary has the good sense to do what is best for him, what is best for the Party, and what is best for his state by changing races and working with Ed Bryant to redden the state rather than against him.

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