by Steven Ertelt
August 19, 2005
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A new poll shows Republican Senate candidate Van Hilleary with a sizable lead over his opponents for the GOP nomination to replace Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, who is retiring from the Senate. Meanwhile, the poll shows voters care about the issue of abortion.
According to the new poll, conducted for his campaign, Hilleary has an 18 percentage point lead over pro-life Rep. Ed Bryant and a 29-point lead over Bob Corker.
Today, Hilleary, a pro-life Tennessee congressman, stands at 33%, Bryant at 15% and Corker at 4%. In February polling before Hilleary became an official candidate, he led with 31%, compared with 18% for Bryant and 8% for Corker.
Wes Anderson of polling firm OnMessage Inc., credited with having the best 2002 primary surveys, said "Van Hilleary is one of the most well-liked figures in Tennessee among Republicans, conservatives and independents and he begins this Senate primary in a very strong position."
"Bob Corker and Ed Bryant will both need to spend a great deal of money to even hope to get where Congressman Hilleary already is," Anderson told The Chatanoogan newspaper.
Anderson said that Hilleary’s primary campaign victory in 2002, in which he won 93 of the state’s 95 counties, helped him build name recognition and support that is carrying over into this race.
Meanwhile, they survey finds Tennessee Republicans are concerned about how the candidates stand on the issue of abortion.
When asked "How important would you say it is that Tennessee’s next Republican Senator have a consistent record supporting the pro-life position on abortion?," seventy-four percent said that quality is important, with 50% rating it "very important."
That favors Hilleary and Bryant, while Coker, who has been inconsistent, may have a hard time.
"I’ve been polling in Tennessee for seven years and the state’s Republican and independent voters are steadfastly conservative on taxes and the pro-life issue," Anderson told the Chattanooga newspaper. "They have little appetite for candidates whose records on abortion … are anything but solidly conservative."
Hilleary campaign spokesperson, Jennifer Coxe said the abortion question "point toward serious problems for Corker."
"Bob Corker’s record on abortion … is out of step with the overwhelming majority of Tennessee’s conservative Republican primary voters. He starts out in deep third place and the only way for him to move up is to run away from his record and pretend he is something he’s not," she said.