Manny Sethi

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.

 

Sethi camp warns of legal action for airing attack ads it calls ‘knowingly dishonest’

Republican Senate candidate Manny Sethi’s camp is calling a new attack ad by a super PAC  ‘knowingly dishonest’ and his lawyers are warning TV stations not to air the spot.

Standing with Conservatives is running an ad attacking Sethi for a $50 donation he made through the ActBlue online donation processing site in 2008. The ad calls ActBlue a PAC that later supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison has a copy of the ad here:

Sethi’s attorneys say the donation was made by the candidate’s wife to a family friend. They argue ActBlue is being mischaracterized as a PAC.

Standing with Conservatives has spent $512,500 on independent expenditures opposing Sethi so far. The PAC was formed on July 3 and there is no public information available about who is behind it.

The full letter from the Sethi campaign follows:

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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.

Company tweet causes tempest in Tennessee Senate race

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty speaks at Nashville event on Dec. 3, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Hagerty has resigned from the board of R.J. O’Brien & Associates over social media posts sent by the futures brokerage firm voicing support for the African American community and Black Lives Matter.

The National Pulse, a project of the American Principles Project, first wrote about Hagerty’s role with the company based on a financial disclosure the candidate filed with the Senate on Friday.

The company said in a May 31 tweet (since deleted):

R.J. O’Brien stands proudly with the African American Community in support of EQUALITY & PEACE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

Rival Republican candidate Manny Sethi’s campaign quickly seized on the National Pulse item:

The Breitbart website quickly moved to publish Hagerty’s letter of resignation to R.J. O’Brien CEO Gerald Corcoran:

I cannot in good conscience remain affiliated in any way with the promotion of a radical political movement that seeks to use this moment to overthrow the government and usher in Marxism. This movement wants to rip apart the fabric of our country and destroy many aspects of what makes America exceptional. I vehemently oppose their calls for violence and relentless march towards socialism. Please accept this as my resignation from R.J. O’Brien effective immediately.

Unsurprisingly, the Sethi camp wasn’t impressed, issuing the following statement:

This is simple: Bill Hagerty has been making money from a company giving money to Black Lives Matter, while his campaign has been spending millions of dollars pretending to oppose Black Lives Matter. He only resigned once he was caught. He’s a hypocrite and a fraud, just like his buddy Mitt Romney.

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.