endorsements

Ted Cruz endorses Sethi, Blackburn backs Hagerty

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi speaks at a campaign event in Clarksville on Feb. 4, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the runner-up to Donald Trump in the Tennessee’s 2016 presidential primary, is endorsing Manny Sethi in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Trump, of course, has endorsed rival candidate Bill Hagerty.

Cruz’s endorsement of Sethi follows a nod by another 2016 presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“Primaries are a time for choosing,” Cruz said in a statement. “Too many times the Washington swamp tries to trick voters into choosing their preferred candidate.”

Trump carried 39% of the vote in Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary in 2016, while Cruz won 25%. The third-place finisher was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who received 21%.

UPDATE: U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) formally endorsed Hagerty on Wednesday afternoon.

“I fully support Bill Hagerty for the United States Senate, because I need a true Tennessee conservative to stand with me to protect our Tennessee values,” Blackburn said in a statement.

Paul campaigned with Sethi in Murfreesboro over the weekend, while U.S. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is coming to Middle Tennessee on behalf of Hagerty this week.

“Bill is a strong conservative leader and a trusted friend to President Trump. We need Bill in the U.S. Senate,” Cotton said in a Hagerty release.

(The Cruz announcement on Sethi follows.)

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Here’s who the TSEA isn’t endorsing in the primaries

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee State Employees Association has announced its endorsements in legislative primaries around the state. The TSEA gave the nod to the 11 incumbents running for re-election in the Senate and 58 sitting members in the House.

The group endorsed former Rep. Page Walley in the Republican primary for the open Senate 26 seat against former Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. It also gave the nod to former Rep. Scotty Campbell over National Guard Lt. Col. Neal Kerney in the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville).

The list of members who did not receive a TSEA endorsement includes some prominent members like House Majority Leader William Lamberth, House Minority Leader Karen Camper, House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Yager.

The TSEA said further endorsements will follow after the primary.

The early voting period for the Aug. 6 contests begins on Friday.

Here’s the full list of incumbents who didn’t get the TSEA endorsement (for the ones who did, click here):

SENATE:

  • District 8: Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains)
  • District 10: Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
  • District 12: Ken Yager (R-Kingston)

HOUSE:

  • District 1: John Crawford (R-Kingsport)
  • District 5: David Hawk (R-Greeneville)
  • District 9: Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)
  • District 10: Rick Eldridge (R-Morristown)
  • District 11: Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby)
  • District 12: Dale Carr (R-Sevierville)
  • District 21: Lowell Russell (R-Vonore)
  • District 26: Robin Smith (R-Hixson)
  • District 28: Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga)
  • District 29: Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah)
  • District 33: John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge)
  • District 39: Iris Rudder (R-Winchester)
  • District 41: John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)
  • District 44: William Lamberth (R-Portland)
  • District 46: Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon)
  • District 47: Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma)
  • District 50: Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville)
  • District 51: Bill Beck (D-Nashville)
  • District 53: Jason Powell (D-Nashville)
  • District 55: John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville)
  • District 58: Harold Love (D-Nashville)
  • District 59: Jason Potts (D-Nashville)
  • District 62: Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville)
  • District 68: Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville)
  • District 81: Debra Moody (R-Covington)
  • District 87: Karen Camper (D-Memphis)
  • District 89: Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville)
  • District 92: Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg)
  • District 94: Ron Gant (R-Rossville)