1st debate set for Sept. 25 in US Senate race in Tennessee

Phil Bredesen and Marsha Blackburn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The first U.S. Senate debate between Democratic ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is set for Sept. 25.

Blackburn’s campaign announced Monday she’ll join the Cumberland University debate in Lebanon, the first invitation it has accepted as part of its general election debates. Hosts include The Tennessean, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV and WNPT-TV.

Bredesen previously agreed to participate in that debate and three in Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

Rhodes College spokesman Matt Gerien says Blackburn’s campaign told them the Sept. 13 Memphis debate doesn’t fit her schedule.

Bredesen said he’ll host his own forum there because the closest debate to Memphis shouldn’t be 200-plus miles away.

The race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker could be pivotal for the slim Republican Senate majority.