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.

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