Below is the AP's analysis of the race:
Tennessee's Senate race has caught the attention of national political parties because some observers think the contest could determine who controls the U.S. Senate.
Democrats need to pick up six seats to win control of the Senate, and under many scenarios, the Tennessee race would be a crucial part of the electoral math.
The seat is open because Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is stepping down to keep a term-limit pledge and weigh a presidential run. The likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Harold Ford, is a Memphis Democrat hoping to move from the House to the Senate. He has the luxury of running without major opposition in the Aug. 3 primary.
In contrast, the three main Republican candidates are engaged in a bitter primary fight.
"They're going to be spending money beating each other up through August," said Phil Singer, the spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which helps recruit and promote Democratic candidates.
The Republicans vying for the seat are former congressmen Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary and former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker. While the three are still focused on one another, national GOP leaders are paying a lot of attention to Ford.
The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has been quick to issue press releases criticizing Ford for everything from his votes to his vacation hangouts. It even set up a Web site to take jabs at Ford and to define him as too liberal for Tennessee voters, who backed President Bush in the last two elections.
"We think that if we do our jobs and our candidates do their jobs that we should meet with success in Tennessee, because Harold Ford has a voting record that may match up well to his Memphis congressional district but it isn't one that matches well statewide in Tennessee," said Dan Ronayne, the spokesman for the Republican committee.
Singer said the GOP is worried about the race and worried about the national map.
With less than four months to the midterm elections, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin want to see Democrats take control of Congress after a dozen years of Republican rule.
Republican incumbent senators are facing strong challenges in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Montana and Missouri. Should the Republicans lose those five seats, a loss by the GOP in Tennessee could give control of the Senate to Democrats.
Not so fast, says Ronayne, who notes Democratic incumbents would have to hold onto all their seats, including three that are open because the incumbents are retiring. Republicans are only contending with one Senate retirement, Frist's.
"We're challenging Democrats with very viable candidates, and if we pick up any of those, their map is just out the window," Ronayne said. "They have to get an inside straight."
Norm Ornstein, a political analyst with the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute think tank, said Tennessee is one of the tougher states for Democrats to win.
He said there is more resistance in the South toward "some kind of national tide that is going against Bush."
A win for Ford would make him the first black candidate elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction.
"It's not an easy task," Ornstein said. "Race is still an issue in the South."
However, Ornstein agreed with Singer's assessment that Republicans are concerned.
"They are worried," Ornstein said. "Just because it's an uphill battle doesn't mean it's a steeply uphill battle."
Folks, this just once again goes to show how important this race is.
As I have said before, over the next 10 years, it will be in the U.S. Senate where all the major decisions will be made. (Think the war on terror, global warming, stem cell research, etc.)
We all know where Bob Corker, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary stand on those issues--with the extreme partisan wackos. They simply cannot be trusted to make rational decisions on major issues like those.
Moreover, we have all saw what a Republican controlled Senate and Congress will do. Nothing, except things like drive up huge deficits, let health care costs skyrocket, watch gas prices surge, and other non-positive things.
That is why it is so imperative that we do all we can every single day to make sure we are spreading the good word about Harold Ford Jr.
He can't win this race without us. America needs a Democratically controlled Senate.
I know I speak for thousands more when I say, Congressman, we have got your back!
Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics
Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.
It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.
It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.
I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!