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Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first woman senator

She beat out former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

GOP Senate Candidate Marsha Blackburn Campaigns In Franklin, Tennessee Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn has been elected as Tennessee’s first woman senator, beating out former Gov. Phil Bredesen for Sen. Bob Corker’s hotly contested open seat. While polls had the two running a close race going into the election, Blackburn ultimately won and made history in the solidly Republican state.

Blackburn is an eight-term member of Congress representing Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District. She and Bredesen were locked in one of the most closely watched elections this year as Democrats sought to win Corker’s Tennessee Senate seat and boost their numbers in the upper chamber. The seat is just one of three open races for the Senate this year.

Blackburn is solidly conservative on issues including abortion, gun control, and immigration. “I’m a hardcore, card-carrying conservative. I’m politically incorrect and proud of it,” she said in her campaign announcement. She’s known for touting an investigation that she conducted into Planned Parenthood, claiming that she stopped the “sale of baby body parts,” an idea that’s backed by dubious evidence at best.

Donald Trump won Tennessee by 26 points in 2016, and Blackburn’s ties to him likely gave her candidacy a boost. She’s also on board with many of his top priorities and has reiterated her commitment to funding a border wall and overturning Obamacare. “The invading force approaching our southern border is seeking to enter the country the wrong way,” she recently wrote in an op-ed on the migrant caravan approaching the US-Mexico border.

Blackburn was among a record number of more than 500 women candidates who filed to run for Congress this cycle and is now part of a groundbreaking wave of women who are set to be on Capitol Hill this year.

Twenty-three women held Senate seats in the 115th Congress, and that number could see an uptick depending on how things shake out across various races during the election.