bill hagerty

Happy Thanksgiving from assorted Tennessee politicos

Happy Thanksgiving from The Tennessee Journal. And, as Twitter reminds us, from an assortment of public officials and those aspiring to join their ranks:

Mackler blasts GOP opponents for Blackburn tweet

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler is criticizing his Republican opponents for being “clones” of Republican Marsha Blackburn, who was elected to the chamber last year. Mackler, a former Army helicopter pilot, took aim at comments Blackburn made about Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the congressional impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Blackburn has said she stands by a tweet that stated: “Vindictive Vindman in the ‘whistleblower’s’ handler.” Republican candidates Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi have defended the president and condemned the House probe.

Mackler closed his law practice after the Sept. 11 terror attacks to join the Army. He spent three years as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the 101st Airborne Division, which included a deployment to Iraq. He later served as a military prosecutor for the Judge Advocate General Corps.

 

Hagerty speaks out against minor league ‘hit list’

Then-U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty throws out the first pitch at a baseball game in Japan on June 5, 2018. (Credit: U.S. Embassy in Japan)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty is speaking out against a plan by Major League Baseball to sever 42 minor league teams’ links to parent clubs and instead make them part of a lower-tier “Dream League” made up of undrafted or released players.

Six of Tennessee’s nine minor league teams would be affected by the change, which critics fear could cause them to fold. The teams on the so-called “hit list” are the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and Jackson Generals, and the Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals, and Kingsport Mets of the Rookie class Appalachian League.

Former gubernatorial candidate and interim University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd owns the Elizabethton, Greeneville, and Johnson City teams. The Double-A Tennessee Smokies of Sevierville, which Boyd acquired from Bill and Jimmy Haslam in 2013, would not be affected. Also avoiding the proposed shakeup are the state’s two Triple-A teams, the Memphis Redbirds and the Nashville Sounds.

Here’s Hagerty’s statement:

Last week, when I was in the Tri-Cities, several Tennesseans spoke with me about MLB’s plan to cut the region’s minor league baseball teams. Our teams in Chattanooga, Elizabethton, Greeneville, and Jackson are also on the chopping block. It would be devastating for our communities.

These teams bring America’s pastime to our backyards, and they are integral to the fabric of our communities. They inspire young athletes, provide family fun, support the community, and provide hundreds of good jobs. It is my hope that MLB reconsiders its plan and works with these teams to remain home in Tennessee.

Sethi names veterans coalition

Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi has named a veterans coalition supporting his bid for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

“This group of distinguished Tennessee leaders represent generations of Tennesseans who have dedicated themselves in service to us and our great nation. I am so grateful to have these heroes on my team,” Sethi said in a statement.

The chairmen of the coation are retired Army Gen. Gary Harrell, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Carl Schneider, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Jackie Dan Wood.

Sethi’s military platform includes:

  1. Fixing our broken Veterans Affairs system, and ensure that veterans are able to obtain healthcare without fighting through bureaucracy.
  2. Improving rapid access to mental health treatment for our veterans.
  3. Protecting Millington Naval Base, Arnold Air Force Base, Fort Campbell, and other military facilities from cuts or closures.

The membership list of Sethi’s coalition follows:

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Hagerty rejoins board of private investment firm

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty attends a CPAC conference in Memphis on Oct. 27, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty is rejoining the board of the private investment firm he was a member of before his appointment as ambassador to Japan.

Hagerty will become a member of Hall Capital’s automotive and private investment board. Will Alexander, the son of retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, is also affiliated with the firm.

“I am pleased to rejoin my friends at Hall Capital,” Hagerty said in a release. “The Hall family has demonstrated a deep commitment to Tennessee and their investments here are only going to multiply.  I have a long relationship with the Hall family, I have a great deal of respect for their integrity, and I look forward to partnering with them to further grow Tennessee’s economy.”

Sethi opposes background checks, red flag laws

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi says he opposes universal background checks for gun purchases. He’s also against so-called red flag laws, which allow judges to issue orders allowing law enforcement to confiscate guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or others.

Here’s Sethi’s tweet about guns:

Sethi is running against former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.

 

Sethi in new TV ad: “Let ’em try to call me racist.”

Republican Senate candidate Manny Sethi has launched his first TV ad. His campaign says the ad will run statewide — and in Washington, D.C.

The spot features Sethi’s mother speaking about the seven-year process she and her husband went through to immigrate to the United States from India.  “Others come here illegally, take all the benefits and then if you dare say that’s wrong – you are called racist?” she says.

The candidate warns about an “illegal immigrant invasion” if Republicans don’t win next year.

“That’s why I’m running,” he says. “Let ‘em try to call me a racist.”

Here’s the script of the ad:

Dr. Chander Sethi: My husband and I were young doctors in India who wanted to come to America. We followed the law and immigrated legally. It took seven years. We were country doctors in Tennessee for twenty-five years. I delivered thousands of babies, worked hard to be a good citizen. So why do others come here illegally, take all the benefits and then if you dare say that’s wrong – you are called racist? My son, Manny, is a Tennessee surgeon, he’s now running for U.S. Senate. And he knows this is wrong.

Dr. Manny Sethi: We’re gonna have an illegal immigrant invasion if Republicans don’t win in 2020. Democrats are going to give this country away. That’s why I’m running. Let ‘em try to call me a racist.

Democrat James Mackler’s campaign quickly seized on the Sethi ad in a fundraising email:

Unbelievable — one of James’ opponents just launched a despicable ad. Here’s what he says:

“We’re going to have an illegal immigrant invasion if Republicans don’t win in 2020… Let ‘em call me a racist.” – Manny Sethi

DENOUNCE THE AD BY CONTRIBUTING TO JAMES’ CAMPAIGN

James’ opponent is a first generation American who wants to shut the door behind him, and he’s fueling his campaign with fear tactics, divisive rhetoric, and extreme views.

Hagerty raises $1.9M for Senate bid, Sethi adds $839K

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)

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty raised $1.9 million for the Senate bid in the final three week’s of the reporting period, the campaign announced Thursday. Rival Republican canddiate Manny Sethi reported $329,000 in contributions, plus a $500,000 loan from himself.

“Chrissy and I are deeply humbled by the support our campaign has earned so far,” Hagerty said in a statement. “I’m ready to fight for your family in the U.S. Senate, and this support is essential as we work to share my conservative vision for our state and our country. We will continue to talk with Tennesseans about how I can best serve them in the Senate and fight to pass President Trump’s agenda.”

The Hagerty campaign said it spent just $20,000 in the quarter.

Sethi, a Vanderbilt surgeon, raised $542,000 in the previous period and loaned his campaign another $1 million. All of Hargerty’s contributions this quarter come from outside donors.

Cagle sees Senate race as ‘Manny against the Machine’

It all goes back to 2014, Knox TN Today’s Frank Cagle writes in his latest column. That’s when incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander lost 27 counties — including the incumbent’s home county of Blount — in the Republican primary to a “broke, no-name former state legislator,” Joe Carr. The prospects of credible, well-funded challenges were enough, Cable writes, to lead Alexander and fellow Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga) to retire and cause former Gov. Bill Haslam not to run for either seat.

Cagle is a former managing editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel and served as spokesman for Republican Van Hilleary’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign. He isn’t averse to throwing bombs in his opinion pieces, and this column is no exception.

The question Cagle raises is: “How does the cocktail party caucus retain control of the Republican political machine in the Age of Trump?”

Manny against the Machine

Haslam’s much-delayed decision not to run for Alexander’s seat this year “froze the field, dried up donors and forced [U.S. Rep. Mark] Green out of the race,” Cagle writes. When Haslam finally begged off, President Donald Trump was “primed to announce an endorsement of Hagerty to give him a clear field to glide into the seat.”

But hopes of clearing the field didn’t occur when Sethi jumped into the race — and has remained a thorn in the side of Hagerty’s efforts.

“Hagerty will be running a top-down campaign, Sethi will be running a bottom-up campaign,” according to Cagle. “While Hagerty was being introduced around the Neyland Stadium skyboxes by Haslam Saturday night, Sethi was at a Montgomery County chili supper.”

Hagerty’s ties to Trump critic Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate and current U.S. senator, could hurt him among the president’s supporters in the state, Cagle writes:

A key to the race may be whether Trump wants to come to Tennessee and rally for Hagerty. It isn’t likely Romney will be getting an invitation.

For now, the rallying cry is Manny Against the Machine.

Media roundup of Pence visit to Nashville area

Gov. Bill Lee and former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty (who also happens to be running for the U.S. Senate) met Vice President Mike Pence on the tarmac for his visit to Nashville. Pence spoke at a Tyson Foods plant in Goodlettsville, recorded an interview for former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s radio show, adn attended a fundraiser for the Trump-Pence re-election campaign.

An anticipated media gaggle — where reporters undoubtedly would have asked the vice president about the congressional impeachment probe — did not take place.

Here’s a roundup of some of the news coverage:

Amid Trump controversy, Pence demands passage of new North American trade agreement (Daily Memphian)

Considered NAFTA 2.0 by some observers, the plan purportedly would update what supporters call an outdated trade agreement with its two neighbors and expand U.S. exports. “This president, he’s impatient for it,” Pence told a crowd of mostly Republican supporters and plant employees. “The truth is we need Congress to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada (agreement), and we need them to approve it this year.”

Ahead of Trump fundraiser, Vice President Mike Pence pushes U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal (Tennessean)

The vice president made an apparent reference to past and ongoing investigations against Trump, including an impeachment inquiry led by Democrats, saying the president’s accomplishments in office had occurred despite “endless investigations trying to overturn the will of the American people.

Pence asks Tennesseans to support Mexico-Canada trade deal (AP)

“It’s time for the Democrats in Congress to set politics aside and pass the USMCA,” Pence said Monday.

He urged attendees to call U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis and tell them, “Tennessee needs the USMCA.”

Sec. of Agriculture talks to local farmers, pushes new trade deal (WTVF-TV)

Farmers had the opportunity to ask the secretary several questions. Some soybean farmers said they were weary because of the tariffs China placed on U.S. Soybeans in response to tariffs the U.S. placed on Chinese imports.

“Farmers get that – they’re honest people, they want to be treated fairly,” said Perdue. “The fact is they know China hasn’t been playing by the rules for a long time.”