Close friend of Bredesen reflects on upcoming Senate decision

Phil Bredesen endorses Megan Barry
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sometime in the next few weeks, former Governor Phil Bredesen is expected to announce whether or not he will seek the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by a retiring Bob Corker.

But a close friend of Bredesen can’t say which way he may be leaning.

“He doesn’t make decisions until he’s ready to make decisions,” says Byron Trauger, who has known Bredesen since the 1980s and has a picture in his office from the former governor and Nashville mayor that says “to my best friend.”

Both Democrats and some Republicans said he would be a strong candidate that could change the direction of the U.S. Senate.

Trauger believes that as well, but he reflected on how he feels about a Bredesen candidacy.

“As a citizen. I and a lot of his friends really, really want him to run because we think he can make a difference in Washington,” Trauger told News 2. “But as his friend, I am honestly ambivalent because it’s an awful lot to ask to throw yourself into that morass that is Washington DC these days.”

News 2 has learned that Bredesen has been talking to former governors who went on to the U.S. Senate.

National interest became apparent when Bredesen went to Washington to meet with Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer.

On the Republican side Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican in the uncontested senate seat, says the former governor “would be formidable.”

Trauger said the politics of a decision are secondary to his close friend.

“The issue for him is ‘can I make a difference’ and is it worth the price that he would have to pay,” he added.

Bredesen turns 74 next Tuesday and as governor and Nashville mayor, he prided himself in getting things done like building stadiums and libraries. But the Senate is often gridlocked.

Getting caught up in that would seem to run against Bredesen’s grain.

After being urged by people in Tennessee and across the country to run, Bredesen said in mid-October he would make a decision “in a few weeks.”

Trauger chuckled at a potential timetable for Bredesen saying again how “deliberative and analytical” his friend is.

He pointed out the potential candidate was a physics major at Harvard.

Middle Tennessee Congressional member Marsha Blackburn, former Congressman Stephen Fincher, and perennial candidate Larry Crim are seeking the Republican nomination for the Senate seat.

On the Democrat side, Nashville attorney James Mackler is the only candidate officially seeking the party nomination.