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Tennessee at the end of the 20th century


Tennessee state capitol
Tennessee state capitol

Other change has been apparent during the past 50 years, particularly in the political arena. The increasing emphasis on industry and the influx of people from other parts of the nation have brought a noticeable shift from Democratic Party control to a strong two-party system. Although the Republican Party has dominated East Tennessee since the Civil War, it is only in the past 25 years that it has gained much strength in the rest of the state. In 1968 the Republicans won control of the lower house of the legislature for the first time in the modern era. In national politics after World War II the Republican presidential candidate carried Tennessee in every election except those of 1948, 1964, 1976, 1992, and 1996.

Winfield Dunn, a Memphis dentist with little political experience, shocked skeptics in 1970 by defeating a member of a respected Democratic family to become the first Republican governor in 50 years. Republican William Brock in the same year became the second Republican senator in 100 years by defeating Senator Albert Gore.

Brock joined Howard Baker to give the Republicans control of Tennessee’s Senate seats. After Democratic Governor Ray Blanton went to prison for misconduct in office, Republican Lamar Alexander (1979-1987) brought new ideas and material improvements, as did his successor, Democrat Ned R. McWherter (1987-1995). In the presidential race of 1992, Senator Al Gore, son of Albert Gore, became vice president and was responsible for his party’s winning the electoral votes of Tennessee for the first time since 1976. However, when Gore ran for president in the 2000 election against Republican George W. Bush, he did not win his home state. Results of the 1994 elections stunned the Democratic Party, bringing Republicans Don Sundquist to the governor’s office and William Frist and Fred Thompson to the U.S. Senate. Republicans won control of Tennessee’s congressional delegation and made serious inroads upon the Democratic-controlled legislature; only a few months after the elections, defections within Democratic ranks gave Republicans control of the state senate. "Tennessee" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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