US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is a step closer to the US Senate after winning yesterday’s Tennessee Republican primary.
Blackburn has been one of the most prominent opponents of net neutrality rules in the House of Representatives, where she chairs a key subcommittee that oversees telecommunications.
Her primary win was no surprise—she took 84.5 percent of the vote, with 610,884 votes, easily defeating Republican Aaron Pettigrew, who had no previous political experience.
Blackburn faces a tough challenge in November’s general election from Phil Bredesen, who won 91.5 percent of votes in yesterday’s Democratic primary, with a total of 348,302 votes. While Tennessee is a Republican-leaning state, Bredesen was governor of Tennessee from 2003 to 2011 and was previously the mayor of Nashville.
Bredesen led Blackburn in four polls tracked by Real Clear Politics. The latest poll, conducted by Emerson College, gave Bredesen a 43-percent to 37-percent lead over Blackburn.
Blackburn seeks ban on state net neutrality rules
As we’ve previously written, Blackburn introduced the House resolution that overturned broadband privacy rules last year, and she has proposed various bills that would eliminate some or all net neutrality rules or impose restrictions on how the FCC and state governments can regulate net neutrality.
Blackburn is currently pushing her “Open Internet Preservation Act,” a bill that would ban blocking and throttling but allow ISPs to create paid fast lanes. Blackburn’s bill would also prohibit state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws, and it would prohibit the FCC from imposing any type of common carrier regulations on broadband providers.
Bredesen calls net neutrality “vital” and says that Internet access is “an essential utility.” As Bredesen told The Tennessean:
Internet access has now become an essential utility in the same way that electrical service did a century ago. Fair and equal access to it—net neutrality—is vital to small businesses, entrepreneurship, and to our civic and personal lives. We should guarantee equal access for everyone.
Blackburn told the paper that “Tennesseans do not want government-controlled Internet,” and she said Congress should approve her Open Internet Preservation Act.
While Congress hasn’t passed net neutrality legislation, the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission repealed the net neutrality rules passed during the Obama administration.
President Trump endorsed Blackburn at a campaign rally in May, saying, “We need Marsha in the Senate to continue the amazing progress and work that we’ve done over the last year and a half.”