bill hagerty

American Conservative Union endorses Hagerty

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty attends a CPAC conference in Memphis on Oct. 27, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The American Conservative Union, the group known for putting on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is endorsing Bill Hagerty in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race.

Hagerty spoke at a regional CPAC meeting in Memphis in October 2019. Rival Republican candidate Manny Sethi was also part of the program at the event, though his speaking slot was pushed back to late in the afternoon to accommodate an appearance by My Pillow founder Michael Lindel.

The American Conservative Union in 2018 endorsed U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) in her unsuccessful bid for the gubernatorial nomination.

Here is the release endorsing Hagerty:

Alexandria, VA – The American Conservative Union (ACU) today announced its endorsement of Bill Hagerty for election in Tennessee to the United States Senate.

“In Tennessee the race to become the next U.S. Senator has come down to a choice between two candidates with conservative policy positions, but for ACU the choice is clear. We know from personal experience the impact that Bill Hagerty has had advancing conservative successes,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “Ambassador Hagerty served effectively under President Trump as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, and in that role helped shape the aggressive approach that the United States has taken over the last few years holding China more accountable on trade, national security, and human rights. The Ambassador directly assisted our efforts on CPAC Japan and helps our efforts to combat communism in Asia. Ambassador Hagerty’s accomplished record is not just one of working overseas to advance conservatism, but also here at home. He led the Trump transition team and created the single most conservative cabinet in U.S. history. We have worked with Bill Hagerty for years and in that time we have seen him as an effective leader and we know that he can do the same in Congress. That’s why we are endorsing him to be Tennessee’s next Senator.”

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Hagerty’s latest ad remarkable for what it doesn’t include (hint: it’s that guy who endorsed him)

Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty has spent much of his Senate bid hammering home the point that he has been endorsed by President Donald Trump —  a fact that’s been featured prominently on campaign signs and in TV and radio ads. But not in his latest one-minute spot, titled “What Makes America Exceptional.”

The ad features Hagerty talking to the camera about growing up raising livestock and working on road crews when he was in college. He then discusses his time as state economic and community development commissioner and as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“No one loves this nation more than I do,” Hagerty concludes. “I want that same opportunity for your children and grandchildren, just like I want them for mine. That’s why I’m running for United States Senate.”

On the face of it, it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill biographical ad, the sort one might expect to run early in a campaign to introduce a candidate to the voters. But this ad comes with just three days remaining before the primary election after weeks of attack ads slamming his main rival for the nomination, Vanderbilt surgeon Manny Sethi.

The last advertising push comes as Hagerty has tapped his line of credit by another $800,000 in recent days to bring his total debt to $3.3 million. Sethi has also gone back to his own checkbook, adding $300,000 to the $1.93 million he had previously loaned his campaign.

The transcript of Hagerty’s latest spot follows:

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Politico: Tennessee’s Senate primary ‘nastiest’ in nation

Tennessee’s Republican primary for the U.S Senate between Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi is the “nastiest” in the nation, according to a report by Politico

Here’s an excerpt:

Hagerty largely ignored Sethi most of the race — seemingly confident of his lead which his internal polls had at 17 points — until earlier this month, when he abruptly went on the offensive. His recent campaign speeches and interviews are chock-full of attack lines. His campaign has dubiously accused Sethi of donating money to a group “bankrolling these rioters” in an ad with a wounded veteran telling voters that Sethi can’t be trusted to defend the flag.

And Hagerty has been repeatedly mispronouncing Sethi’s name as “Set-ee” instead of “Seth-ee” a year into the race, even in response to reporter questions with the correct pronunciation. Hagerty told POLITICO it was inadvertent, and he didn’t know which pronunciation Sethi, the son of Indian immigrants, prefers.

“Bill Hagerty is Thurston Howell III without the charm,” said Jordan Gehrke, Sethi’s senior strategist, comparing Hagerty to the out-of-touch millionaire in the ’70s-era sitcom “Gilligan’s Island.” “He’s desperate. He should be.”

[…]

On mispronouncing Sethi’s last name on the stump, Hagerty says the slight is unintentional.

“I’m just not sure what his preferred pronunciation is, but there’s nothing underlying it,” Hagerty said.

Pence officially joins list of Hagerty endorsers

Nobody was really surprised when U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) threw her support behind Bill Hagerty’s U.S. Senate bid last week. Throw the endorsement from Vice President Mike Pence on Monday evening into the same category:

While the endorsement underscores the Hagerty narrative of being the choice of President Donald Trump, it would be near unimaginable that Pence wouldn’t take the same position as the commander-in-chief.

But every endorsement counts. Or at least so we’re told…

 

 

Sethi spot features wife blasting Hagerty for attack over $50 donation

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi’s latest ad features his wife, Maya, criticizing rival candidate Bill Hagerty for attacking a $50 donation made to a Democratic congressional candidate a dozen years ago.

“Yep, 50 bucks,” she says in the spot. “Now, Bill Hagerty is attacking me to hurt my husband. But Hagerty gave Mitt Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.”

The donation has featured heavily in attacks by the Hagerty campaign and an independent PAC supporting the former ambassador’s bid. The money was given in Manny Sethi’s name through the online fundraising portal ActBlue.

Here’s a transcript of the new ad:

Twelve years ago, some friends called me for political donations. I sent $50. Yep, 50 bucks.

Now, Bill Hagerty is attacking me to hurt my husband. But Hagerty gave Mitt Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.

If you want a politician who will say and do anything to win, vote Bill Hagerty. For a conservative with integrity, please, vote for Manny.

I’m Manny Sethi, and I approve this message.

Hagerty-supporting PAC pushes back against Sethi’s effort to block ad

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

An outside PAC supporting Bill Hagerty’s bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination is pushing back against rival Manny Sethi’s efforts to get TV stations to drop its ad.

Sethis’s lawyers this week called the ad by the Standing with Conservatives PAC “knowingly dishonest” for suggesting a $50 donation to Democratic congressional candidate in 2008 was linked to  online contribution processor ActBlue’s later support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

“The ability to criticize a public figure’s actions, and to discuss matters of public importance, lies at the heart of the First Amendment, as courts have repeatedly recognized,” Karen Blackistonea lawyer for Standing with Conservatives, wrote to station managers.

“The Candidate denies supporting ActBlue and asserts that ActBlue does not conduct any advocacy. Per ActBlue’s website, ActBlue is more than just a credit card processor. It is dedicated to empowering democratic and progressive liberal campaigns build their movements,” Blackistone wrote “ActBlue exclusively permits certain groups to use its services that shares similar liberal, progressive values.”

The ads were still on the air of as late this week.

The full letter from Standing with Conservatives follows.

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Sethi says voters have choice: ‘Me or Mitt Romney’s guy’

U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi is out with a new ad responding to a barrage from rival Republican Bill Hagerty. While the spot seeks to paint Sethi as the victim of “all these crazy attacks,” the Vanderbilt surgeon also gets in his own barb at Hagerty.

“End of the day, it’s about who you believe: Me or Mitt Romney’s guy,” Sethi says in the ad. Here’s the whole thing:

Transcript:

All these crazy attack ads. Bill Hagerty can do that if he wants; that’s not me. You know why Hagerty’s doing this, right? Because we’re winning.

The truth: I hate Obamacare. Testified against it in front of the Senate. I’m a Christian–which is why I’m pro-life. And as a doctor, I know those are babies.

End of the day, it’s about who you believe: Me or Mitt Romney’s guy. I’d sure appreciate your vote.

I’m Manny Sethi, and I approve this message.

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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Hagerty launches next round of attack ads on Sethi

U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty has another attack ad out on TV this week attacking rival Manny Sethi.

The narrator points out that Sethi, who is now a Vanderbilt surgeon, once served on the b0ard of the Massachusetts Medical Society, a group that later went on to support President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (thought the ad doesn’t take that time element into account). It also blasts Sethi for once applying for a prestigious White House Fellowship while Obama was president. (Hagerty was a White House fellow in 1991-1992 when George H. W. Bush was president.)

The ad also includes a video of Sethi saying it’s a “political statement” to call the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare.”

Sethi has pushed back against the attacks as being deceptive while lobbing his own broadsides against Hagerty for once donating to Al Gore’s presidential campaign and donating more than $100,000 to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns.

Stay tuned for more mud-slinging.

 

Hagerty goes negative on Sethi over $50 donation in 2008

U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty is attacking GOP rival in a new TV ad over a $50 donation made a dozen years ago. The spot running in West Tennessee says Sethi gave to an organization that is directing money to violent protesters around the country.

“Sethi has donated to the organization that has bankrolled these rioters, aiding liberal extremists,” Joseph James, a veteran from Hendersonville, says in the spot. “Tennessee deserves a senator who respects our sacrifices and honors our flag. That is why I support Bill Hagerty. ”

The organization in question is ActBlue, an online fundraiser for liberal candidates and causes. ActBlue has seen a flood of donations pour in amid the Black Lives Matter protests around the country, according to the New York Times. 

Sethi gave $50 through the group in 2008 to support Virginia congressional candidate Tom Perriello, a Democrat who narrowly defeated inclubmetn Republican Rep. Virgil Goode. Sethi has since made $33,584 in GOP contributions, including to Rick Perry, Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Donald Trump.

So how long will be it be until the Sethi camp hits back with a spot about Hagerty once giving $1,000 to Al Gore?

UPDATE: Looks like the Sethi campaign was ready for attack ads:

UPDATE II: Here’s a response from the Hagerty campaign:

Of course, Bill worked to defeat Barack Obama in 2012, unlike Massachusetts Manny Sethi who applied to be in the Obama Biden White House. Manny Sethi’s Never Trumpers have been attacking Bill since the day President Trump endorsed and announced his run for Senate. President Trump looked at all the candidates in this race, and he endorsed Bill because he trusts Bill to stand with him to protect conservative values, get our economy going again, hold China accountable, and stand up for life.

Sethi was a finalist for a prestigious White House Fellowship in 2009, when Obama was president. The fellowships are “awarded on a strictly non-partisan basis,” according to the White House. Hagerty was a White House fellow in 1991, when Republican George H.W. Bush was president.