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Phil Bredesen

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Phil Bredesen
Phil Bredesen.jpg
Governor of Tennessee
Former officeholder
In office
January 18, 2003 – January 15, 2011
PredecessorDon Sundquist
Prior offices
Mayor of Nashville and Davidson County
1991 - 1999
Bachelor'sHarvard University
Date of birthNovember 21, 1943
Place of birthOceanport, New Jersey
ProfessionHealthcare executive
Philip Norman "Phil" Bredesen (born November 21, 1943, in Oceanport, N.J.) was the 48th Democratic Governor of Tennessee, having served from 2003 until 2011. He was first elected governor in 2002 and won re-election in the general election on November 7, 2006. His second inauguration was held on January 20, 2007, in Nashville, Tenn. Bredesen was ineligible to run again in 2006 due to term limits and was succeeded by Republican Bill Haslam on January 15, 2011.[1]

Prior to becoming Tennessee's governor, Bredesen served as the fourth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County from 1991 to 1999.[2]

One of the themes of Bredesen's first term as governor was healthcare while his second term focused more on education. In addition, Bredesen was noted for his refusal to accept a salary during his two terms as the state's chief executive official. This was in part due to the wealth he had earned from the 1986 sale of his controlling interest in HealthAmerica, the healthcare management company he founded out of his small Nashville apartment early in his career.[1]

Bredesen formally entered politics in 1987 as a candidate for mayor of Nashville. He finished second to 5th District Congressman Bill Boner, but since Boner only won 42 percent of the vote, he and Bredesen faced each other in a runoff. Boner won the runoff, largely by emphasizing that he was a Nashville native while Bredesen was a Northerner. Though he won the mayoral election on his second try, by the time he won the 2002 gubernatorial election, Bredesen had added two more unsuccessful campaigns to his record, including his initial bid for the governorship in 1994 and his bid for the congressional seat left open by Boner in 1988, after Boner beat Bredesen for mayor.[1]


Bredesen was born in Oceanport, N.J., but grew up in Shortsville, N.Y., a small agricultural community just south of Rochester. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University. Bredesen moved to Nashville in 1975. While doing research at the public library, he drafted a business plan that led to the creation of HealthAmerica Corporation, a health care management company that eventually grew to more than 6,000 employees and was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. He sold his controlling interest in HealthAmerica in 1986.[1]

In late August 2006, during his re-election campaign for governor, Bredesen experienced a health scare. The Tennessean reported that while hospitalized at Nashville's Centennial Medical Center, he was in intensive care with a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Bredesen was hospitalized for a total of four nights with what was thought to be a tick bite, but testing was inconclusive. The following week he was tested for two more days as an outpatient at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic, but no definitive diagnosis based on testing there was determined either. The incident brought to light the fact that the Tennessee Constitution makes no provisions for a disabled governor, although Bredesen was not incapacitated at any point during this illness to the extent that would have precluded him from fulfilling the duties of his office.[1]


  • Bachelor's degree in physics - Harvard University

Political career

Governor of Tennessee (2003-2011)

Bredesen was elected governor on November 7, 2002, and sworn into office on January 18, 2003. He served two terms having won re-election in 2006. He was succeeded by current incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, on January 15, 2011.[1]

As governor, Bredesen was a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors' Association and the Democratic Governors Association.[1]

Death penalty

Bredesen: TN Executions are Humane

In November 2010, the Tennessee Supreme Court stopped the executions of four death row inmates so a lower court could examine the constitutionality of Tennessee's new lethal injection procedure.[3] The trial courts had 90 days to test whether a new step added during the lethal injection was constitutionally sound. Bredesen stood by Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol despite the Tennessee Supreme Court's decision. He said that he respected the high court’s decision, but believed the state was already operating within all confines of the law.

“I’m confident that what we’re doing is humane and sensible and in the main stream, it is certainly what a great many other states do, and that in the end we’ll find that what we’re doing is consistent with the Constitution and the law and that Tennessee will be able to go ahead,” said the former governor.[4]


Questionable investment

Bredesen’s personal interest in the company Silicon Ranch Corporation, which benefited from policies he enacted while governor, raised questions in Tennessee in November 2010.

Bredesen had invested in and held minority shareholder status with the Silicon Ranch Corporation, according to his November 9, 2010, "Disclosure of Interests Statement" filed with the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. He listed it as a venture that would help finance construction of solar arrays.

Five days before this investment came to light, The Tennessean reported that Bredesen was chairman of the company. The report also showed that Community Development Commissioner Matthew Kisber and former state Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr were also investors and executives. Kisber was its president and Farr was the vice chairman and secretary.

In November 2011, Bredesen’s personal interest in Silicon Ranch was suspected as being in violation of the state’s "Guiding Principles of Ethical Conduct for Public Officials" because of conflict of interest issues or, at least, the appearance of them.[5]

Mayor of Nashville (1991-1999)

After losing his first bid in 1987, Bredesen was elected in 1991 and re-elected in 1995.[1]


Bredesen and his wife, Andrea Conte, have one son, Ben.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Don Sundquist
Governor of Tennessee
Succeeded by
Bill Haslam (R)