Manny Sethi

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.

Top TNJ: On the Hill posts of 2020 so far

A man scrubs graffiti off of a building following protests in downtown Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As we hit the halfway mark of a tumultuous year, here is a look at the the most popular posts on the TNJ: On the Hill blog so far (again with a hat tip to our friends at the Nashville Post, from whom we have stolen the idea on more than one occasion).

1. Sethi on the air with new ad hitting ‘Leftwing Lockdown.

June 11: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi has a new TV ad out in which he goes after what his campaign is calling liberals’ double standard on the coronavirus lockdown.

2.  So what’s essential? A look at Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order.

March 30: Here are details about which businesses are exempted by Gov. Bill Lee’s order for non-essential operations to shut down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s a long list, ranging from marinas to dry cleaners. It also includes “any other business or organization that operates at all times with ten or fewer persons accessing the premises.”

3. Give me refills or give me death? Protest organizer laments need to pay for extra iced tea.

April 20: According to The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison, a top lament of an anti-lockdown protest organizer at the state Capitol is that he can’t get free refills for his iced tea under social distancing rules.

A sign outside the Pink Cadillac drive-in movie theater in Centerville advertises church services on May 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

4. Lee announces end of stay-at-home order for 89 of 95 counties.

April 20: Gov. Bill Lee has announced stay-at-home orders will expire next week in all but six of Tennessee’s 95 counties. The counties that will continue to be covered by local bans on nonessential business are Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Madison, and Sullivan.

5. Candidate blasting China for COVID-19 married to man convicted of mislabeling drugs from … China.

May 11: Kingsport pharmacist Diana Harshbarger has been making a splash in Tennessee’s open 1st Congress District race by self-funding a series of television commercials. One of her latest spots attacks China for the coronavirus pandemic. Left unsaid is that Harshbarger’s husband pleaded guilty to federal charges of distributing misbranded drugs from China in 2013.

6. From urging to requiring: Lee makes stay-at-home mandatory.

April 2: Gov. Bill Lee is ramping up his stay-at-home directive, moving from urging people to avoid all non essential activities to requiring it. The move follows an uptick in traffic and movement around the state.

7. Lee orders statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 and on dine-in restaurants, bars.

March 22. Gov. Bill Lee has issued a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and  ordered all restaurants be limited only to drive-thru or takeout service.

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

8. Lee extends state of emergency until Aug. 29.

June 29: Gov. Bill Lee is extending Tennessee’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until Aug. 29.

9. Election officials instructed not to immediately comply with judge’s order on absentee ballots.

June 5: A Nashville judge has ordered the state to start issuing absentee ballots to any registered voter who requests one, but State Election Coordinator Mark Goins is telling local officials not to immediately comply.

10. Should toppled Carmack statue be repaired at Tennessee Capitol?

June 1: Protesters over the weekend tore down the statue of Edward Ward Carmack, a newspaper editor and U.S. Senator who was gunned down in the streets of Nashville in 1908. Carmack was a notorious segregationist, though it’s unclear whether the demonstrators specifically targeted the monument (a historical marker commemorating Nashville’s lunch counter sit-ins in 1960 was also destroyed).

State troopers guard the toppled statue of Edward Ward Carmack outside the state Capitol on May 31, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Current, former Chattanooga congressmen make competing U.S. Senate endorsements

A Chattanooga congressman and his predecessor are making competing endorsements in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Former Rep. Zach Wamp is giving the nod to Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi, while current Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is getting behind Bill Hagerty.

Wamp joined fellow former Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Jackson) in endorsing Sethi:

Fleischmann won the 3rd Congressional District seat when Wamp gave it up to run for governor in 2010. Wamp had first been elected to the seat in 1994.

Wamp endorsed Bill Lee in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, giving a boost to the Franklin businessman’s campaing. There was a personal backstory to that endorsement, as political operative Chip Saltsman was advising rival Republican Randy Boyd’s campaign. Saltsman had also run Fleischmann’s successful campaigns against Weston Wamp, the congressman’s son, in 2012 and 2014.

PAC funded by Sethi finance chairman hits Hagerty as ‘another liberal’

A political action committee calling itself the Conservative Outsiders’ PAC is running a series of videos attacking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty as having “extreme ties to the most liberal elements of the Republican party,” ranging from Mitt Romney to Lamar Alexander.

“Why would we want another liberal like Bill Hagerty representing Tennessee,” the narrator says in the spot.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the PAC has received only one donation: $100,000 from David Ingram, rival Republican candidate Manny Sethi’s state finance chairman.

Ingram served as treasurer to former House Speaker Beth Harwell’s gubernatorial in 2018 and as finance chairman for
2002 Republican gubernatorial nominee Van Hilleary’s campaign. His brother John, the billionaire chairman of Ingram Industries, has given the maximum personal donation of $5,600 to Hagerty. John Ingram is the owner of the Major League Soccer franchise Hagerty helped land in Nashville.

Here’s what the Hagerty campaign had to say in response:

Bill Hagerty has earned President Trump’s ‘complete and total’ endorsement, because the President knows he will be ‘strong on crime, borders and our Second Amendment.’ President Trump trusts Bill and personally asked him to serve on the American Revival Group where he is working to hold China accountable for the Wuhan virus and get our economy going again.

Tom Cotton endorses Hagerty in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is endorsing Republican Bill Hagerty in the Tennessee Senate race.

Cotton, like Hagerty, was a proponent of calling in active-duty military troops to put down rioting during national protests over police brutality. Manny Sethi, one of Hagerty’s main rivals for the GOP nomination, said the National Guard was better equipped for the task.

The publication of a Cotton op-ed in the New York Times titled “Send in the Troops” led the to resignation of the paper’s editorial page editor.

“Senator Cotton is a true conservative leader, and there are a lot of issues we see eye-to-eye on: namely, China,” Hagerty said ina release. “Senator Cotton has been leading the way on calling out the Communist Chinese Party for what it is – an authoritarian regime that has lied repeatedly to the world about the Wuhan virus. I’m honored and humbled to have Senator Cotton’s support, and I look forward to working with him to protect our conservative values in the Senate.”

Sethi on the air with new ad hitting ‘Leftwing Lockdown’

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi has a new TV ad out in which he goes after what his campaign is calling liberals’ double standard on the coronavirus lockdown.

Here’s the text of the ad:

Across America, opening a business is a crime. Burning a business is not? Dinner with neighbors gets you arrested. Beating neighbors does not? Church with too many people is a crime. Thousands of people protesting is not? Got a problem with any of that? You’re a racist! And you want to kill Grandma. Had enough? Me too. That’s why I’m running. Send me to the Senate. I’m Dr. Manny Sethi, and I approve this message. 

Senate candidates take contrasting stands on use of military to put down protests

In one of the starkest contrasts of the U.S. Senate race so far, Manny Sethi disagreed with rival Republican Bill Hagerty about whether the active-duty military should have a role in responding to civil unrest around the country.

Hagerty early last week called on President Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to crack down on violence and “domestic terrorism.” The Sethi campaign, however, told The Tennessee Journal, that the National Guard was better suited for the role.

Here’s the statement from Sethi campaign manager Chris Devaney:

Manny appreciates President Trump’s leadership, which is why he doesn’t think we need the 101st Airborne in this. Our U.S. military exists to kill bad guys, not to do police work. Our National Guard is more than capable of dealing with these rioters and looters, upholding the rule of law, and busting some heads if need be, to protect our country.

Trump last week week criticized governors for being “weak” and failing to “dominate the streets.” He floated the idea of using the Insurrection Act to send the military into states where governors hadn’t called in the National Guard, but ultimately didn’t take that step.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee authorized the Guard to intervene when Nashville protesters clashed with police and set fire to the Metro Courthouse. The Guard was also called in to augment security at the state Capitol, though the governor heaped praise on soldiers for laying down their shields during a peaceful protest.

The president over the weekend ordered Guard units to start returning to their home states “now that everything is under perfect control.”

Rand Paul endorses Sethi in Tennessee U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is endorsing Manny Sethi’s bis for the Republican nomination to succeed  Sen. Lamar Alexander.

“Tennessee deserves a true conservative who supports President Trump, is pro-liberty, and will fight out-of-control federal spending,” Paul said in a release. “I believe Dr. Manny is the right choice, like me, he’s a physician, not another politician. We need more outsiders in Washington, and I’m proud to endorse him today.”

Sethi’s rivals for the nomination include former Ambassador Bill Hagerty and Memphis broadcaster George Flinn.

Sethi denounces Nashville mayor as ‘cowardly’

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

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi is denouncing Nashville Mayor John Cooper as “cowardly” for his approach to street violence following protests over the weekend.

“We saw this past weekend was political correctness run amok: cowardly Democrat Mayors, like John Cooper, are more concerned about political correctness and about what the liberal media thinks, than about protecting the people in our cities,” Sethi said in a statement.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Dr. Manny Sethi released the following statement on the violent riots in Nashville and across our country:

I am deeply saddened and angered by the death of George Floyd. America has justifiably already started a conversation about real criminal justice reform. President Trump had already signed a landmark bill. That was a good start, and we must continue this work so these types of incidents finally end. 

But what we saw in that video was not representative of most police officers. I have cared for police officers who have put their bodies in front of bullets to protect us. I have seen their courage and devotion up close.

Protests are inherently American. The right to petition for redress of grievances is a basic constitutional right. However, we cannot allow what these protests have morphed into to continue. We have moved far beyond peaceful protest into lawlessness. These ANTIFA-trained revolutionaries have no interest in a more perfect union. It’s not about solving problems in policing to them, or helping heal neighborhoods. They want to bring down this country. 

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Sethi returning to campaign trail for Senate bid

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

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi is ready to get back on the campaign trail. The Vanderbilt physician says he plans to hit all 95 counties.

Here’s the release from the Sethi campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Republican Senate candidate and conservative outsider Dr. Manny Sethi announced today that he will begin a 95 county tour in the coming days. As announced in March, the campaign will be doing townhalls in person, and have been doing virtual townhalls, taking questions directly from Tennesseans.

“Over the last ten years with our health care nonprofit, Maya and I have visited every corner of the state, and again since kicking off our campaign in June. From now until Election Day on August 6th, I will be visiting every county in Tennessee,” said Dr. Manny. “I believe the way you campaign is the way you will represent. I will represent every person from Mountain City to Memphis, Turtletown to Tiptonville, and I will be visiting every county to share my vision for this state and country.”

“Tennesseans are looking for a trustworthy, conservative candidate, and Dr. Manny is the candidate who is talking directly to voters and answering their questions. He’s open, honest, and wants to hear directly from Tennesseans,” said Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer, Campaign Manager. “We look forward to being in every county from now until Election Day.”

Dr. Manny will be visiting every county safely and all events will be in compliance with President Trump and Governor Lee’s guidelines.