The 1994 United States Senate election in Tennessee was held November 8, 1994. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Jim Sasser ran for re-election to a fourth term, but was defeated by Republican nominee Bill Frist.
There were two unforeseen events that affected the campaign. One was the large scale of discontent that the American people seemed to have toward the first two years of the Clinton administration, especially the proposal for a national healthcare system largely put together and advocated by Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton. The other was the somewhat unexpected nomination of Nashvilleheart transplant surgeon Bill Frist for the seat by the Republicans.
Frist, who had never voted until he was 36, was a political unknown and a total novice at campaigning, but was from one of Nashville's most prominent and wealthiest medical families, which gave him some name recognition, as well as adequate enough resources to match the campaign war chest built up by the three-term incumbent, a challenge most "insurgent" candidates find to be impossible. A further factor working to Frist's advantage was a simultaneous Republican campaign by actor and attorney Fred Thompson for the other Tennessee Senate seat, which was open due to Al Gore resigning to become Vice President of the United States. Another factor in Frist's favor was that Sasser was never seen as possessing much charisma of his own. During the campaign Nashville radio stations were derisive towards Sasser to the point of stating that he could only win "a Kermit The Frog lookalike contest." In one of the largest upsets in a night of political upsets in the November 1994 U.S. general elections, Frist defeated the incumbent Sasser by approximately 14 percentage points.