Bill Hagert

Internal polls give contrasting views of GOP Senate contest

Internal polling by Republican candidates Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi show a stark contrast in the state of play in the U.S. Senate race.

The poll by the Hagerty campaign shows the former U.S. ambassador with a wide lead, while the survey by the Sethi camp has the Vanderbilt surgeon narrowly behind with 11 days remaining until early voting.

The Hagerty poll has him with 45%, compared with 29% for Sethi, and 5% for George Flinn.

Sethi’s poll has Hagerty with 33%, Sethi with 31%, and Flinn with 6%.

The Sethi campaign said its polling number have improved dramatically since early June, when he was down 27% to 11%. The poll of 800 likely Republican voters was conducted by Victory Phones between June 30 and July 1. The margin of error is placed a plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The same pollster was used by Bill Lee’s successful gubernatorial campaign in 2018, coming within 2 percentage points of the outcome of that primary.

The Hagerty poll of 651 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by the Tarrance Group between June 28 and June 30. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The Hargery survey found double-digit leads among primary voters in the Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, and Tri-Cities media markets and more than 50% those who have voted in four of the last four primaries.

Blackburn to stay neutral in GOP primary for U.S. Senate

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

First-year U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn plans to stay on the sidelines of the Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Speaking to The Tennessee Journal before Bill Hagerty joined the race, Blackburn said she expected the former U.S. ambassador to Japan to be “a fabulous candidate” if he got in. Also running for the GOP nomination is Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi.

Blackburn noted Hagerty has the benefit of President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

“As the president said when he kind of outed him,  he will have the president’s full support,” Blackburn said. “We will stay out of the primary and let the voters have their say and looking forward to supporting the Republican who’s going to be the next U.S. Senator from Tennessee.”

Will this Trump tweet clear the field for Hagerty?

Will this tweet from President Donald Trump cleat the Republican field for Bill Hagerty’s bid for the U.S. Senate?