NASHVILLE - A former Tennessee Republican congressman who had challenged U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn for the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination before dropping out earlier this year is now endorsing Blackburn in her Nov. 6 contest with Democrat Phil Bredesen.
In a statement released today by Blackburn's campaign, former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher said the Brentwood comgressman will be a "strong leader for Tennesseans.
"We know Phil Bredesen will be a rubber stamp for Democratic leader Chuck Schumer's agenda, and we need to do everything to maintain the Republican majority Senate," Fincher added. "Marsha is the only one who will stand up for our Tennessee values in the Senate, and I am proud to do everything I can to ensure she is our next Senator."
The announcement comes with Blackburn scheduled to square off Tuesday with Bredesen at Cumberland University in Lebanon for the first of two Senate debates.
Blackburn called Fincher "a respected voice for West Tennessee, and I enjoyed getting to know him and working together for Tennessee families in the House of Representatives. I am so grateful to have his support and advice as we work to ensure Tennessee has solid conservative representation in the Senate."
Last October Fincher jumped into the Senate race after incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga announced he would not seek a third term.
But in February, Fincher announced he was abandoning his bid and he urged Corker to reconsider his decision to retire.
At the time, a survey commissioned by a Tennessee business group with Republican ties indicated Bredesen led Blackburn by two points. The latest poll released last week shows Bredesen with a two-point lead - 51-49 percent - over Blackburn.
When he left the race last winter, Fincher said the "party must get behind a candidate that can win in November and stop Democrat Phil Bredesen, who would be a rubber stamp for the Chuck Schumer liberal agenda."
He then urged Corker to get in, which Corker briefly considered before announcing he was sticking to his plans not to run.