Manny Sethi

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.”

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.

 

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.

Sethi to report $1.5M on hand for U.S. Senate bid

Republican Manny Sethi is expected to report $1.5 million on hand in the first campaign finance disclosure for his U.S. Senate bid.

About $542,000 comes from outside donors, while the remainder is in the form of loans from the candidate to stress his personal commitment to the campaign.

Sethi announced his Senate bid on June 3, meaning he had only 20 business days to raise money before the fundraising period ended. The Vanderbilt trauma surgeon is the only major Republican candidate to announce a bid so far for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) next year.

Others Republicans considering bids include former Gov. Bill Haslam, Ambassador Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Reps. Mark Green of Ashland City and David Kustoff of Memphis.

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2020.

 

Haslam to decide on Senate bid within 3 weeks

Former Gov. Bill Haslam (right) and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander attend the state Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019.

Republican Bill Haslam plans to make up his mind about a U.S. Senate bid within the next two or three weeks, the former governor told reporters at the state GOP’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner fundraiser.

Haslam said it’s been his intention to decide about whether to make a bid to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) within six months of leaving the governor’s office.

The former governor sat a table alongside Alexander, junior Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood), and U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty.

Hagerty would be expected to give the race some serious consideration if Haslam doesn’t run. U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Ashland City) is also mulling a campaign. Surgeon Manny Sethi of Nashville announced his candidacy earlier this month.

Haslam said he enjoyed being back in political circles.

“I loved the job, and when you come back and see a lot of people you haven’t seen, you miss that,” he said. “But being a private citizen has its upsides, too.”

Devaney, Gehrke to head up Sethi’s campaign team

The timing of physician Manny Sethi’s announcement that he plans to run for the Republican nomination to succeed U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) caught many political observers off guard because most had been waiting to hear what former Gov. Bill Haslam planned to do on the race.

But Sethi and his team apparently ran out of patience and decided to pull the trigger, using “outsider” themes echoing those made by similarly little-known Bill Lee when the latter was making surprise march toward the governor’s office last year.

So it may come as little surprise that a Lee consultant, Jordan Gehrke, is reprising that role for the Sethi campaign. Chris Devaney, a former state Republican Party chairman who served as Lee’s campaign manager, has agreed to run the day-to-day operations of the Sethi campaign. Devaney had been working as a senior adviser to the Lee administration.

Fred Davis, who produced Lee’s TV ads during the governor’s race, has been in talks with the Sethi camp, but is believed to be awaiting word about Haslam’s intentions before taking the plunge. Davis did the advertising for Haslam’s 2010 governor’s bid.

Gehrke and Blake Harris were the general consultants for Lee’s gubernatorial bid. Harris now serves as the governor’s chief of staff.

Sethi enters Republican race to succeed Alexander

Surgeon Manny Sethi is joining the Republican race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen  Lamar Alexander next year. His announcement comes before other potential candidates like former Gov. Bill Haslam, Ambassador Bill Hagerty, or U.S. Rep Mark Green have announced whether they will run.

Here’s Sethi’s announcement release:

Nashville — Today, Dr. Manny Sethi, a Nashville trauma surgeon, launched his campaign for United States Senate.

“Tennesseans want a conservative outsider who will take on the Establishment, support President Trump, fight illegal immigration and work to repeal ObamaCare,” said Sethi. “That’s why I’m running for Senate.”

Dr. Sethi, 41, is the first candidate to enter the race.  A first generation son of Indian immigrants, Sethi released a video this morning telling the story of his family coming to America.

“My parents taught me to be grateful I was born in America because everything our family has was given to us by this country. I am a product of the American dream. I want to make sure that dream is available to our children and grandchildren,” said Sethi.

Sethi, and his wife, Maya, have been together since they were 16. They were married in 2005 and have two young children.

The Republican Primary is August.