ted cruz

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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Crowe to attend session despite attending conference with coronavirus patient

Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), seated at right, confers with colleagues as they await Gov. Bill Lee arrival for his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) has received clearance to come to this week’s meetings of the Tennessee General Assembly despite recently spending time at a conservative conference outside Washington that was attended by a confirmed coronavirus patient.

The Nashville Post’s Stephen Elliott reports that while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is staying home this week in self-imposed quarantine because he interacted with the patient at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, Crowe is not being urged to stay home.

Here’s a statement from Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s spokesman Adam Kleinheider:

While Senator Crowe did attend the most recent CPAC conference to accept an award on behalf of the Senate, he does not believe he came into direct contact with any infected individual and has shown no symptoms to date. When Senator Crowe became aware of news reports of possible coronavirus exposure at CPAC, he contacted Health Commissioner Lisa Piercy. Commissioner Piercy advised him that because he has been entirely symptom-free for ten days no testing or quarantine would be necessary. Speaker McNally believes no additional precautions are required past those measures everyone is advised to take which include frequent and thorough handwashing and maintaining significant social distance whenever possible.

American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp interacted with the coronavirus patient at the event, but said he hasn’t shown any symptoms. Schlapp also interacted with Crowe at the event, according to the senator’s comments to colleagues last week (though it’s unclear whether that was before or after Schlapp met with the patient). Here’s what Crowe told Republican colleagues on Thursday:

I went up to DC when I was invited to CPAC. I was standing in line with the other senators from the other states. And Matt Schlapp comes up and pulls me out of line, and I was like ‘What the hell is going on?’ So he pulls me up front and makes it very known that they were so proud to designate Tennessee as the most conservative state in the nation. So you can be very proud of that. And it meant a lot to him and the ACU.