Otis Sanford: 2018 state elections are going to be exciting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Statewide politics keeps getting more interesting by the day in Tennessee.

With open races on tap in 2018 for governor and the U.S. Senate, some heavyweight candidates are either already off and running or seriously considering a bid. Both races will almost surely put Tennessee in the national spotlight for the first time in more than decade.

The more intriguing of the two contests at the moment is the Senate race to fill the seat being vacated by Bob Corker. Until last week, Seventh District Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn was thought to be far and away the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, but then two things happened.

First, she was stung by news reports that she co-sponsored legislation that ended up preventing the Drug Enforcement Administration from cracking down on pharmaceutical companies that distribute deadly opiods. The reports also included the fact that Blackburn has received some $120,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

Tennessee is one of many states plagued by opiod deaths.

Then later in the week, former GOP Congressman Stephen Fincher announced he is entering the Senate race and intends to make Blackburn's opiod bill a major issue in the campaign.

Add the fact that former two-term Democratic governor Phil Bredesen is seriously thinking about running for the Senate seat, and suddenly we have the makings of an exciting political year in the Volunteer state.

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