U.S. Senate hopeful Blackburn says campaign war chest now at $7.3 million after successful 2nd quarter

United States Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn mingles during the Hamilton County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner at The Chattanoogan on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

NASHVILLE - Republican Marsha Blackburn says she raised more than $2.6 million during the second quarter in her campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

The campaign says that means it has over $7.3 million in cash on hand for Blackburn's Nov. 6 general election effort and thus "remains well positioned" to succeed in her battle with former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

"Tennesseans across the state have generously donated to our campaign as I work to take our shared values to the United States Senate," Blackburn said in a statement. "I am so grateful for their support, because these resources are vital as we work to keep Tennessee red and defeat Hillary Clinton's ally Phil Bredesen in November."

Bredesen, a former Nashville mayor, has yet to announce his fundraising totals for the April 1 through June 30 reporting period.

Disclosures are due to be filed on July 15. But there are often lengthy delays in the public accessing financial details about who gives to U.S. Senate candidates and how campaigns are spending. Unlike candidates for president or the U.S. House, Senate candidates don't have to file electronically with the Federal Election Commission. They can and many often do file by paper, which can take weeks and sometimes months to process.

According to Blackburn's campaign, of the $2.6 million-plus the Brentwood congresswoman has raised, more than $2.2 million came in direct contributions to her campaign, with nearly $400,000 in transfers from authorized joint fundraising committees.

That would include joint fundraising committee events such as the May fundraiser headlined by President Donald Trump in Nashville and a forthcoming event in Chattanooga on July 21 where Vice President Mike Pence is headlining a Marsha Senate Victory Fund fundraiser. The joint fundraising committee is comprised of Blackburn's Senate campaign, the Tennessee Republican Party for its federal campaign account and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

In the first quarter, Bredesen, a self-made millionaire, reported raising more than $1.8 million, while personally loaning or guaranting loans to the campaign totaling $1.4 million in order to jumpstart TV and digital advertising.

The race to succeed Corker is being closely watched nationally, with polls showing the contest remains tight. Political party committees and super PACs are expected to play heavily.

Bredesen has sought to put Blackburn on the defensive on issues like Trump's tariffs, while Blackburn has picked up Trump's charge that Bredesen, if elected, would be a "tool" for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

For her part, Blackburn has urged the Trump administration to dial back on the tariffs, which are expected to have impacts on Tennessee-made products ranging from soybeans to automobiles and SUVs.

Meanwhile, Bredesen told the Washington Post on Friday that he could support someone other than Schumer.

"I have no commitments or anything there; I will look at whoever is considering running and so on and make a decision at that time," Bredesen told the Post. "I certainly don't have any commitment to him or particular loyalty to him or anything like that. I tend to look at these things as, when this issue is ripe, I will decide what I want to do."

Bredesen also told the newspaper he doesn't expect Democrats to win a majority needed to regain control of the GOP-run chamber this year. Democrats, he said, have to defend 10 seats in states won by Trump while Republicans are defending just one seat won by Democrat Clinton.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.