An average of about 686,000 people has voted in the last eight U.S. Senate primaries in Tennessee. Under a Republican proposal advancing in the state Legislature, that number would be driven down to 132.
The bill poised for a state Senate vote on Monday would shift that nominating power from the voters to state lawmakers.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said he supports the plan, and puts its chance of becoming law at 50 percent.
Republican state Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, the measure's main sponsor, says it is aimed at returning the state closer to the system used before 1913, when state lawmakers directly appointed U.S. senators.
That system was replaced with direct election by 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The bill would go into effect after next year's election.