bill hagerty

Hagerty camp touts McConnell endorsement, says he’s under attack by ‘liberal media’

Bill Hagerty attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. At right is U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Newly announced U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty says in a fundraising appeal that he’s been endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and that he’s already under attack by “Washington Democrats and their media allies.”

Hagerty had long been expected to get into the race, especially once President Donald Trump announced his endorsement while he was still U.S. ambassador to Japan. Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi had previously been the only major Republican in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville).

Hagerty’s formal entry into the race hasn’t stirred too much attention in the national media. For example, the Washington Post and New York Times both used the AP’s account out of the Nashville and haven’t written anything further. Politico wrote its own account.

The Tennessean ran what it deemed an exclusive interview with Hagerty on the day of his announcement, but the campaign had been scooped in declaring its launch by enterprising Nashville Scene reporter Stephen Elliott, who spotted Hagerty’s Federal Election Commission filing earlier in the day. Otherwise, there’s not been a ton of media attention — good or bad — to Hagerty or the Tennessee Senate race.

Nevertheless, the Hagerty email calls it critical for the candidate to post a large fundraising haul to “prove the liberal media talking heads wrong.”

Here’s the email from the Hagerty campaign:

Friend,

Bill Hagerty announced his campaign for U.S. Senate this week, and he’s already been endorsed by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Join President Trump and Mitch by making a generous donation right now.

Trump and Mitch know that Bill Hagerty is a strong conservative who we can count on to stand up to the Democrats’ radical socialist agenda. And that’s why Washington Democrats and their media allies are already attacking Bill.

We have to send a message that we have his back. It’s CRITICAL that Bill posts the biggest fundraising haul possible to prove the liberal media talking heads wrong.

SEND A MESSAGE TO THE LIBERAL MEDIA

[…]

Thank you for your support.
Team Hagerty

UPDATE: The Sethi campaign is denouncing the McConnell endorsement. Here’s the release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Manny Sethi’s campaign released the following statement on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement of Ambassador Bill Hagerty for Senate.

“Today, Mitch McConnell–the same guy who brought us runaway spending, failed to repeal ObamaCare and not building the Wall–joined Mitt Romney today, endorsing moderate Ambassador Bill Hagerty,” said Chris Devaney, Campaign Chairman and Senior Advisor.

“Tennesseans want a conservative outsider like Manny Sethi—and we don’t want Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, or any other member of the DC Establishment ‘Death Star’ telling us who to vote for.”

Sethi on Hagerty’s entry into Senate race: It’s on.

Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi in a fundraising email welcomes former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty to the U.S. Senate race, casting himself as the “conservative outsider” versus the “consummate insider.”

The race is now set, and the choice is all the more clear: a political insider, close friend of Mitt Romney, and the choice of the professional political class versus the true conservative outsider who has lived the American Dream in Tennessee.

It’s the consummate insider, versus the conservative outsider.

Like President Trump, I’m a conservative outsider, taking on the establishment, but I can’t do it alone.

The challenge for Sethi will be to try to somehow drive a wedge between Hagerty and his endorsement from Trump without alienating the president’s supporters in the Republican primary.

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.”

Surprise! Hagerty joins U.S. Senate race

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty has officially joined the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee:

Here’s Hagerty’s statement:

Serving in President Trump’s administration was the honor of a lifetime, but when I saw the threat to Tennessee and our country from the Democrats’ socialist agenda, I felt called to act.  We must stand up to radical liberals like The Squad and their liberal socialist agenda that would deeply damage the America we know and love. With President Trump’s support, I’m ready to fight for your family in the U.S. Senate. In the coming months, we’re going to be working hard and traveling to every corner of our beautiful state to earn your trust. If you’re looking for a conservative family man with real experience, who will stand with President Trump, we’re running this campaign for you.

Sethi steps down from nonprofit to focus on Senate race

Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi is stepping down as head of Healthy Tennessee while concentrating on his bid for the U.S. Senate. Sethi’s wife, Maya, will assume his former duties as president and CEO of the organization, which provides free health fairs and organizes symposiums and candidate forums.

Sethi is the only major Republican in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander so far. Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty is expected to formally enter the the race soon.

Here’s the release from the Sethi campaign:

Nashville, TN — Dr. Manny Sethi, co-founder of Healthy Tennessee and Nashville orthopedic trauma surgeon, announced today that he is stepping down as President and CEO of Healthy Tennessee. Maya Sethi, co-founder of Healthy Tennessee, will assume the duties of President and CEO.

“When Maya and I founded Healthy Tennessee, we did it because of our passion for the health of our fellow Tennesseans. Ten years later that passion still drives both of us, and while I’m focused on meeting folks around our state as I seek public office, Healthy Tennessee is in great hands with my wife, Maya, While I will not be in a leadership role for the coming months I will continue to be involved on the board and joining together with our volunteers across the state to care for patients,” stated Dr. Manny.

Healthy Tennessee has provided free health fairs, educational opportunities, and symposiums to thousands of Tennesseans in dozens of locations over the last decade. Several health care events are in the planning stages, including a statewide summit on the opioid crisis on October 7. Healthy Tennessee held a similar event in 2018 with Governor Bill Lee, Senator Marsha Blackburn, former Mayor Karl Dean and former Governor Phil Bredesen as a few of the speakers.

“I look forward to taking over as President and CEO of Healthy Tennessee so that we can continue to create more awareness about better health lifestyles in our state. We’ve experienced so much success at every level in these communities and strongly believe that our mission has just begun,” Maya Sethi said. “Healthy Tennessee will diligently work to ensure our boots on the ground operation continues.”

Maya Sethi is a litigation attorney with almost 15 years of experience. Prior to her current role as General Counsel for Rocketship Education, a national non-profit charter school management organization, she practiced white collar defense and commercial litigation. Maya also has practiced in the litigation department at HCA.

She is currently the President of the board of Tennessee Voices for Victims and serves on the board of Children’s House Montessori.

Maya and Manny Sethi live in Nashville where they are raising their two children.

Woodson decides against U.S. Senate bid

As recently as last week, former state Sen. Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) was still mulling a bid for the U.S. Senate. No longer, The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison reports.

“I have been humbled and deeply honored by the recent and generous encouragement I have received to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate,” Woodson said.

Woodson, who ran the education think tank SCORE after leaving office, said she and her husband, Bill, had “prayed about this season for our family and our country and how we might best serve,” before deciding against a bid.

Woodson first began contemplating a bid to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) before President Donald Trump declared his support for Ambassador Bill Hagerty in a tweet. Hagerty made his first public appearance on Friday since winding down his diplomatic responsibilities in East Asia, but has yet to formally enter the race.

Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi announced his candidacy in June.

 

Hagerty makes first public appearance since return from Japan

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty made his first public appearance since returning from Japan on Friday evening at state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson’s annual barbecue fundraiser in Franklin.

Afterward, Hagerty sat down to discuss his plans regarding the U.S. Senate race with The Tennessee Journal and The Tennessean. 

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Q: What are your plans?

You know, first things first. I just wrapped up a tremendous stint as the U.S ambassador to Japan, and as I said out there, there’s no greater honor than to serve your nation in a position like this and being the president’s representative in a country that’s as large as Japan. The economy is the second-largest free market in the world there, and we have such tremendous intertwined relationships. We’ve got more military based in Japan than any other country, anyplace outside the United States.

It’s a great relationship, a strong relationship, one that’s very important to the president and one that’s important to all of us. So, a great experience, and a wonderful experience for my family, too. We had a terrific two or three-year experience there.

But we’re very happy to be back home now. We have new horizons ahead of us. We’re working on that right now. And I’ll be able to talk very soon about what we’re going to do.

Q: The president sort of let the cat out of the bag, didn’t he? Is it a done deal?

I’m very honored by the president’s tweet. And I just need to put some componentry in place before I can really address what that tweet was about. But I was very honored to be recognized.

Q: As of when are you officially no longer in the diplomatic service?

I’m just an unemployed citizen right now.

Q: After the president’s tweet, you put in your paperwork. But then maybe there were extenuating circumstances that the president wanted you to stick around. Can you talk about any of that?

Actually, not really. I got back home as soon as I reasonably could. We’re got a lot of important things going in the region. And I’ve been involved in a lot of that. We have some important things happening right now in Japan, so I think I’ve got everything in a good place. I’ve got a great team on the ground right now. All of their work is planned out. They know what they need to be doing. And the folks at the State Department are fulling engaged, as is the White House. So I don’t think they’re going to miss me.

Q: Coming out of the world of diplomacy, where you have to be careful and measured about what you say, how do you go about changing your mindset to domestic politics and campaigns?

I understand the question, but a lot of what I worked on has serious implications back home. Like Sen. Blackburn mentioned, the work I was doing on trade was so heavily focused on ag. Our farmers are bearing the brunt of our disputes with China. China has retaliated against American farmers.

Japan is a huge market for us, and we need to make sure Japan is doing as much as they possibly can to support our farmers right now, because Japan benefits immensely from our standing up to China. They suffer just like we do, from property theft and competing with state-owned enterprises, that type of thing. They are also in the neighborhood where islands are being militarized and a lot of bad things potentially could happen out there. What’s happening to the north and to the west of Japan is a tough neighborhood, and we’re their most important ally in all of this. A lot of that has an impact back here at home.

I’d say the next steps that I take will get me back re-engaged in Tennessee. I’ve been gone a couple years, and I plan to spend a lot of time going from one end of the state to the other, talking to people to hear from them what the issues are, and how things I saw over there are affecting things back home, and think about maybe if there’s a way I can help.

I’m glad to be back.

Kustoff won’t run for Senate

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Memphis) has decided against running for the Senate next year. President Donald Trump has tweeted that U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty will seek the seat being vacated by Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville). Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi joined the race before former Gov. Bill Halsam announced he wouldn’t run.

Meanwhile, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports another doctor, Josh Gapp, is running as a Republican.

Former lawmaker, ex-GOP chairman, and current lobbyist Ryan Haynes was surprised to see his name floated among potential Senate candidates. He’s not running.

 

Sethi charges GOP establishment in Tennessee, DC sought to ‘scare’ him off of Senate race

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi says in a new Facebook post that unnamed persons “at the highest levels of Tennessee and DC politics” sought to dissuade and even attempt to “scare” him out of running for Tennessee’s open seat.

The Nashville trauma surgeon, who ignored them and announced on June 2 his bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, specifically cites the National Republican Senatorial Committee as among them.

“I’ll never forget it — I was at my son’s 6th birthday party when I started getting texts and phone calls from people at the highest levels of Tennessee and DC politics,” Sethi writes in the post. “They were trying to talk me out of running — telling me I had no right to even run, that I would never raise any significant money, that I was wrong to even think of getting in the race.

“Even Mitch McConnell’s National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Washington DC called, which was weird, considering they’re ‘neutral’ in GOP primaries. It was like this all weekend: every few hours, someone trying to persuade me or scare me out of announcing.

After formally entering the race, Sethi said, “things quieted down some — until this last week. Our team announced last Wednesday that we had put over $1.5 million dollars in the bank. A great start.”

Sethi begins the post saying, “what I’m about to say might make some folks uncomfortable, but Tennesseans have a right to hear it. Part of why the GOP Establishment is powerful is because regular people don’t know how they really operate. I think Tennesseans should know what happens behind closed doors then make their own decisions.”

Sethi so far is the only major announced candidate, but U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty plans to announce after he officially leaves his post, which he hopes to do by the end of July.

Hagerty’s candidacy was announced earlier this month by his boss, President Donald Trump who also endorsed him and said he would do all he can to help him.

In the post, Sethi also describes his parents’ impoverished background in India where he said they “lost their homes because of sectarian violence. Despite this, they both went on to become doctors” and legally emigrated to America.

U.S. Embassy: Hagerty to step down this month for Senate bid

(Photo credit: U.S. Embassy in Japan)

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who is expected to mount a bid for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate in 2020, is officially “in the process of resigning” his diplomatic post “later this month,” the embassy said Tuesday.

The statement comes days after President Donald Trump announced Friday via Twitter that Hagerty was running to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. Trump said Hagerty, a former state economic commissioner who ran a private equity prior to becoming a member of Trump’s presidential team and later his ambassador, has his full support.

The embassy did not say Hagerty planned to run for the Senate seat. Alexander along with fellow Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn are believed to be already privately making calls on Hagerty’s behalf and also plan to publicly endorse him when he makes his candidacy official.

Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi is the only major announced Republican candidate in the race so far. But Republicans U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Memphis and former state senator Jamie Woodson are also considering a bid

Nashville attorney and Iraq war veteran James Mackler has already announced for the seat.

Here’s the U.S. Embassy’s release:

U.S. Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty IV is in the process of resigning as Ambassador. He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Japan on July 27, 2017 and will have served approximately two years.

Ambassador Hagerty is honored to have represented the President and the American people in his work to advance the U.S.-Japan Alliance, the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Pacific.

Upon Ambassador Hagerty’s departure, Joseph M. Young will assume duties as the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.