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Bredesen visits Cedar Bluff schools

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen made an eleventh-hour “low pass” over West Knox County Thursday, Nov. 2, to urge East Tennesseans to vote in midterm elections held Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Returns later showed Bredesen had won re-election to a second four-year term by defeating his opponent, state Sen. Jim Bryson, R-Franklin.

In stops at Cedar Bluff Middle School and the Soups and Scoops Café sandwich shop on South Peters Road, Bredesen pressed the flesh, kissed a few babies, posed for pictures wth backers, sampled a scoop of ice cream and urged his supporters to help him turn back a Republican challenge.

Nov. 2 was the final day to vote early in the election, highlighted statewide by a heated U.S. Senate race between U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, D-Memphis, and former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, a Republican who succeeded in his bid for Sen. Bill Frist’s seat in January.

Campaigning with the governor was Schree Pettigrew, a UT graduate and Democratic candidate for House District 18, West Knox County, which she lost to incumbent Stacey Campfield.

At the middle school, Bredesen greeted principal Sonya Winstead and a dozen youthful members of the Student Council’s executive board — seventh- and eighth-graders. Then Bredesen and Pettigrew astonished parents whose cars were queued, awaiting pupils’ afternoon release from classes.

Cedar Bluff students meeting the governor were Reagan Winstead, Stuart Clark, Megan Hazlewood, Eliza Rowcliffe, Allie Kington, Delaney Ailor, Grayson Byard, Maggie Hudson, Shivani Goyal, Gabby Valentine, Emily Cornelius, Abby Waliga and Mandy Chambers.

Among parents in line was Patti Wells, the mother of twins at the school, who said she was delighted to meet the governor.

“But if I’d known this was going to happen this afternoon, I’d have spent more time getting ready,” she smiled.

One mile away, about 200 fans of the governor awaited him jammed into the cozy Soups and Scoops Café.

One man had come from distant Fountain City to catch a glimpse of the governor.

When Bredesen arrived, Pettigrew climbed atop a table to introduce him. Then Bredesen ascended to applause, telling the crowd, “If she can make it up there, then I can, too!”

Among those in the crowd was Thomas Deakins, a recently-elected member of the Knox County School Board, who said he had just voted for Bredesen.

“But I’ve never had the chance to meet him until now,” Deakins said.

Bredesen called Pettigrew “a great candidate who’d be a great partner in the House of Representatives.”

After his brief campaign speech, Bredesen climbed down, telling his waiting admirers “My mother taught me better than to stand up on the furniture like that!”

Bredesen congratulated West Knox voters on a 2006 surge in early voting at locations such as the Farragut Town Hall. He favored any incentive, he said, that “lets people have a better chance” to participate in the election process. But he also noted that the intensity of the final three weeks of campaigning seems to have driven up costs of campaigning — especially last-minute advertising for candidates.

Bredesen said he had “never seen a more heated race” in Tennessee than the U.S. Senate battle waged between Ford and Corker.

“I’d be just as happy if both parties’ national committees would keep their ads out of it,” the governor said of recent TV ads that neither Senate candidate had claimed as his own.

Bredesen told the parlor crowd that included state Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, he “felt good about his first four years as governor” and hoped voters would give him the chance to continue working to resolve the state’s problems.

“The first time I ran,” Bredesen said, “I won Knox County by thirty-seven votes, and that was when I finally knew I’d won the election.” He hoped the county’s voters would be at least as good to him in Tuesday’s election, he added.


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